Hello! My name is Stas Moor the founder and designer of Klokki.
Klokki is a time-tracking Mac app, which let's you configure rules by which it will start/pause the timer depending on what you are working on.
The state of time-trackers is quite poor. They are either complicated to use and/or ugly, plus some of them are also very expensive. But almost none of them solve the real issue, which is — people forget to start the timer! If you now ask yourself: "why is that such a big problem?" — well, I'll tell you that freelancers highly depend on the time they spent working on client projects. It is their bread and butter!
And being a freelancer myself, I knew that there should be something which will solve all of that.
Hold tight, this is going to be long, but with drama. Let's rewind a few years back.
Initially, back in 2016, a good friend of mine approached me with an old time-tracking app project for the iPhone that he had and planned to relaunch. He wanted to get my feedback on it, and so we started talking and thinking. That discussion led to the decision that a time-tracking app makes more sense on the desktop, because obviously that's where most of the work is happening.
But that meant throwing everything away and starting almost from scratch. So we thought further and decided — if we want to make this, it needs to actually solve the main issue freelancers face every day, which is, as I said earlier — starting and pausing the timer. The answer was automation and so we decided to take on this challenge together as a team and called the project — Timepal.
So we started working on the app and did it after work and on weekends. Many weeks, months and sleepless nights were poured into the project, until we were ready to ship a public beta in 2018. Yes, that's a lot of time! But the project was/is far from easy and as every project we went through ups and downs. If I would need do it all over again, it would probably be a lot faster, because of better prioritization.
After a few months of continues development, we launched version 1.0 in the end of 2018 and quit our jobs to work full time on it. The app had its issues and small bugs, but overall it was very stable and we were quite proud of ourselves. Thanks to the fact that we've gathered over 600 users in the beta phase, we even got a few purchases right away. Then some sites started featuring our webpage, which gave us many new visitors and people started to download the trial. Feedback started pouring in and 99% of it was very positive. So the launch went, I would say, well.
Fast-forward to March 2019 — Drama!
Me and my partner decide to split, because of certain circumstances which don't really make sense to speak about. That was probably one the biggest hits of my life — both lost a friend and a business-partner. We've agreed to continue the project separately, because of reasons. Yes, that sucks for everyone, especially for the users. I really wish the users wouldn't need to deal with this situation because of us. But life is sadly not always fair and we had little choice.
The now — new app — Klokki.
The decision was made to relaunch on May 1st — so I had roughly 1.5 months to create a whole new brand from scratch: app-name, app-icon, website (design/development), branding, etc. I think that that time was one of the most intense ones — on some days I worked over 16 hours. The upside of it was that I learned a ton in that time.
Thanks to the support of the incredible Makerlog community — the launch went even better than the initial one. I am super thankful for the help, support and encouragement they gave me. ?
I am still far from being profitabel, but that's secondary — the most important thing is the feedback I am getting about Klokki. It is an incredible feeling to hear that my tool is solving someones issues and that they like using it and made Klokki part of their workflow now. That's worth so much more than money.
Therefore I am committed to continue the development on the app, so it becomes the ultimate helper for the freelancers out there.
The whole split is obviously something that I wished would have been different, but I can't say that it is a failure. I believe that things happen for a reason and usually will lead to something better.
And the biggest struggle is and will stay that way for a while, is getting the word out. It is very hard nowadays to be found inside the massive information wave, that people need to deal with every single day.
I would say the app itself is my biggest achievement. Even though it still has ways to go, the app is something I can be proud of.
The second one would probably be the relaunch of the app. That time made me stronger and be a bit more prepared for the future of the company.
Still to early to say, we are basically just 1.5 months into the launch.
I will describe the "perfect" scenario, which I sadly didn't manage to do myself.
1. Build an audience early on, way before there is any sign of the product itself.
2. Start sharing thoughts about the product early, to get feedback and make people aware that something is coming.
3. Invite a small group of people to use the alpha and then a bigger audience for the beta. That way you get feedback and people will start talking about the product.
4. Open a sign-up form for the version 1.0.
5. Invest some time into creating a well made website. Show it to people before launching, so they can pin point what they don't understand or what could be improved.
6. Announce the launch a month or 2 weeks in advance.
7. Create a promo video. People want to see how it works, before spending the time to even download the trial.
8. On launch day, ask for help from others so they share the crap out of it. Post everywhere you can. Don't be afraid to receive bad feedback — every feedback is valuable and will help you make a better product.
I launched on both services. Betalist was actually a let down. Even though the guys even included Klokki into their newsletter, I didn't see a big spike in visitors. Maybe I was published on a slow day — idk
But the launch on PH went really well — finished 2nd, but also had strong competitors on that day. It was a 20h fight, after which my body couldn't take it anymore and I went to bed, before seeing the end results.
The launch on PH is really something that you need to prepare for in advance. Find blog posts about how to launch on PH and note everything down.
Here is a quick checklist for you:
√ Decide on what time to launch
√ Have a great thumbnail image (a gif can work quite well)
√ Have a clear sub-line text, that explains what your product does
√ A promo-video would be really helpful (or at least a gif of the product)
√ Design awesome screenshots
√ Explain the product a bit more in detail in the description
√ Write an informative first comment and go into the details about your and the product
√ Answer all the comment, be nice
√ Share the launch everywhere
√ Stay awake for the whole 24h :)
I am providing 3 different ways to get the app.
1. Subscription — $2.99
2. One-time purchase — $39
3. And a slim version of the app, without Auto-Tracking, on the Mac App Store — currently for free.
Again, to early to tell about the revenue.
Biggest challenge and obstacle was, as I mentioned earlier, the relaunch.
My goal is to do everything in my power to deliver a great app. And for that, I will sooner or later start growing the team. Fun times ahead :)
I am very well today, even with all the challenges. That's why I went into the game in the first place. I think the future of the product is very bright and I am very excited/happy to be on this path.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous? *
Hell yeah! I learned so much I can't even believe. Because of the project, I needed to quickly learn how to:
1. Manage the development process.
2. Provide great support.
3. (Start to) Understand how marketing works.
4. Set goals.
5. Create a roadmap.
6. Make videos.
and so on…
1. Namecheap for domain and hosting.
2. Paddle for selling the product.
3. Klokki for tracking the time ;)
I highly respect the new generations of makers who are creating great products already at a young age. One example would be — Sergio Mattei ?
But Steve Jobs will always be the one who inspired many, me included. He will always be the King!
I really like the book "Hooked" — definitely worth a read!
Sadly I can't now pin-point any other book that left me with a "wow"-feeling.
1. Use/Get the knowledge that others have made before you.
2. Be aware that it's not an easy road. It won't be like in a TV show.
3. If you believe that you really want it — go for it, put your heart into it! Cheesy, but true.
4. Money will become a problem, sooner or later, so plan ahead and rethink your lifestyle. Decide for yourself what is more important — your dream or a new iPhone. Reaching your dream usually means giving something in return.
5. Surround yourself with people who are likeminded. That way you can support each other! The Makerlog community will always welcome you!
6. But most importantly — have fun and enjoy the ride!