Hello ! Who are you and what are you working on?
I’m Petr, freelance coder 💻 from Czechia 🇨🇿 currently living in Bali 🏝️.
I have 3 side projects in the wild:
Productivity app for freelancers
👉 Workplace List
Crowdsourced map of places to work from, remotely
👉 Remote Weekly
Customizable newsletter with remote jobs - most active right now
What motivated you to get started with? How did you come up with the idea?
As I don't have a CS degree, I was always fiddling with something over the weekends. Something I could show my future employer during the interview and it would balance the lack of diploma.
Tasklog (formerly Tomatoid) started as online Pomodoro timer without any ambition for monetization.
I was just trying out the Pomodoro technique and realized none of the existing online solutions were any good - so I decided to build my own.
Can you tell us the story of your business from idea to where you are now?
So, it was late 2013 and the Pomodoro technique was quite a big hit in the company I was working for at the time. All the developers were trying it out, myself included.
~ 2013: First line of code ~
The works on Tomatoid started in late 2013. I couldn’t find any online pomodoro timer that would fit my needs, so I decided to build my own.
~ 2014: First public version ~
It took me a whole freakin year! The first version was finally released in late 2014 at tomatoid.com.
Launched from my bedroom. And by "launch" I mean publishing the website and telling my coworkers on Facebook.
Fun fact, my original estimate for the MVP development was 1 month. I was off only by 1200%.
~ 2015: Classic time tracker ~
At this time, Tomatoid was still just a pomodoro timer.
However, I soon needed the classic time tracking (stopwatch) as well because sometimes you just have to do a bunch of small tasks and you can’t really use the 20 min intervals.
That’s how the classic timer was added.
~ 2016: To-dos & checklists ~
With both classic and pomodoro timer, I was able to track all my time in my new app.
I was, however, frequently switching from Tomatoid to other task management app(s) and checking my todos, checklists and inboxes. That’s how the todos section was born.
~ 2017: Premium functions ~
Tomatoid becomes full-blown alternative to other time tracking and productivity apps while still maintaining the indie feel.
You can now create and assign projects, clients and tags. Create, save and export timesheets or reports. There is also cool new dashboard.
~ 2018: Mobile apps & browser addons ~
Made iOS app, followed by Android app and few months later also Chrome & Firefox addons.
~ 2019: Tomatoid becomes Tasklog ~
If there is one thing you don't want to waste your time on, it's rebranding your project.
That is, unless the purpose has changed and the old name has no more corelation with the new direction whatsoever. This exactly happened to Tasklog (formerly Tomatoid).
In other words: Hello, Tasklog.app!
Also: you can now track all of your expenses in the app as well.
~ Recently ~
I am now quite happy with the scope Tasklog has.
It truly is "Freelancer's best friend" and I use it daily.
It's still an Indie project.
There is also a b2b version for teams and companies.
What has been your biggest failure or struggle?
I definitely struggle with marketing or any kind of promotion.
I was always paid to *code* 8+ hours per day and eliminate any no-coding activities like meetings or calls to a minimum because it brought almost no value to my productivity and zero value to my paycheck.
So the time I'm spending on emailing, forums, Indie Hackers, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Hacker news, Quora, Yahoo answers (or whatever) trying to give advice, create content, build some reputation and when it's appropriate maybe throw in some link to my goodies doesn't really feel like something I should be doing in the "working hours". It feels like free time activity to me.
Also, the fact I'm really terrible at these things doesn't help at all.
And what has been your biggest achievement or success?
The fact that I've created a project in 2013 and it's still alive and well in 2019 is a great achievement for me. Projects and startups come and go so quickly these days, it's nice when something sticks around for a while.
Every positive feedback in person, email or tweet is also a great success.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Continuously improving the product and fixing bugs. Provide great support, build personal relationships with (soon to be) customers.
Lifetime membership option (pay just once per lifetime) is also quite popular.
I'm experimenting with gamification at this moment, let's see how that turns out.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Haha, good one!
The first ever version (q4 2014) was "launched" by publishing the website and sharing a link on my personal Facebook profile. I went to sleep afterwards.
That was it. There was no time or ambition for anything bigger (as I had a job and this was just a weekend project), so I let Google do the rest for the next few weeks or months.
Did you use Betalist or PH or other Startup Launching Platform for Launching ? How was that experience ?
I did use PH and Betalist for launching the 2.0 version, but only for a good measure. It's not a place where my potential users hang out. The product itself isn't interesting enough for any potential media attention and the quality of traffic from these platforms is not great.
I did, however, get some traction with https://workplacelist.com on these platforms. ☺️
What’s your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?
Tasklog is a freemium SaaS webapp with multiple payment options:
The basic core functionality (time tracker, task manager, pomodoro timer) is FREE, fancy stuff which helps you save time while freelancing is paid.
You can watch all the metrics LIVE on the "/open" page
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and obstacles you’ve overcome? What are your goals for the future?
There were so many! Building a SaaS productivity app as an indie maker is probably the worst idea you can have. Everything takes so much time. The MRR growth is slow as hell. Many established competitors.
These things aside, positioning is probably the thing I've struggled the most with.
As the product evolved, the number of features increased, target audience changed and somewhere in the middle the model shifted from fully-free to freemium. Such a mess!
As a result, I had to change the communication style, remake the landing page, copy, pictures, seo and bunch of other resources many times.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
I'm quite happy with the current scope of Tasklog.
- Time tracking,
- Task management
- & Expenses.
The goal was always the same. Slowly get to $1000 - $2000 MRR and switch to semi-autopilot.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I've learned that I actually prefer doing b2b over b2c and also that SaaS is one of the toughest models for solo makers - and I've acted accordingly in my other side-projects.
Over the time, I was forced to learn a little bit of everything (copy, seo, ui/ux, marketing) which comes in real handy in other projects or freelancing.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
All of my projects run on a Linode VPS which I manage by myself.
The backend is typically PHP with Symfony connected to MariaDB database.
For frontend, Vue.js is used in the newer projects, jQuery in the older ones.
Who’s your most inspirational CEO or founder?
Elon Musk, as a person. He's doing stuff instead of talking about it over and over.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
- The $100 Startup
- The Back of the Napkin
- Jonathan Livingston Seagull
- The Four Agreements
- Zen to Done
- The Richest Man in Babylon
- Rich Dad Poor Dad
- How I Built This
- The Indie Hackers Podcast
What’s your advice for fellow aspiring entrepreneur who are just starting out?
Set a time limit for building the MVP and launch as soon as it's ready. Not more than a couple of weeks.
Solve real problems people (not just you) face. For this, you will probably have to get out of your comfort zone.
Wanna quit your job & start building your project while slowly burning your savings? Think about an alternative which won't stress the shit out of you.