1000 DKK/Month after 3 years of work

The good news

December 2013 has been the first month ever where Kanbana users has payed just beyond 1000DKK (around 180$) in one month. 90% coming from one time payments from iPad in-app purchases and 10% coming from online monthly subscriptions.
There are only ~20 customers behind these payments and this is actually the good news because it proofs that some of the users want to pay a relatively high price from which I conclude that they really like the product.

The feedback from users are also starting to take shape, especially because they praise exactly the qualities I have focused on.

“Beautiful app! ★★★★★
A pleasure to use–I’ve had fun coming up with more and more uses for it. Simple, yet sophisticated and refined”

“I like the simple aesthetic and concept of seeing a bigger picture of what I have to do and how far along I am in to a task.”

“…a simple, intuitive and wonderful kanban board app”

“…such ease of use, especially of creating tasks and moving them between columns as priorities change or tasks are completed.”

“As a visual, creative person I have downloaded numerous task apps before but have not found them to work for me, whereas this one does. I love the colours and the clarity (both in sizing/layout and against a dark background), and the ease of moving tasks around… this app will really make a positive difference to my life”

“I’ve been using Kanbana for months, almost exclusively via the iPad app, and I love it. It’s nearly perfect – not too much, not too little, very quick and easy to use, and very pleasing to the eye.”

“…it has helped organize my to do list beyond any tool I have used”

“… my work week it’s more effective since I met you”

All together I have a pretty good feeling that Kanbana in Lean Startup terms has reached problem-solution fit. People using Kanbana want to have a better overview of their daily activities and Kanbana is able to solve this problem.

2014 here we come

Primarily 2014 will be dedicated to implement Kanbana for iPhone. Where the iPad and online version is about gaining clarity the iPhone version should be about easily emptying your head when you’re on the go or at the coffee machine and something important pops to your mind.

Even though Kanbana is a spare time startup I have a goal to turn it into a sustainable product. But before worrying about growth and revenue there is a even bigger challenge that needs to be solved.
I’m only converting around 2 percent of users who create an account to paying customers which I consider way to few and the share of recurring payments should be much higher. In other words there is hard work to be done business wise before Kanbana reaches product-market fit, and for most startups this is the crucial step that decide its future survival.
My hypothesis is that users who owns an iPhone don’t want to pay for Kanbana due to the the lack of a iPhone version. So hopefully a iPhone version will improve the conversion rate by itself.

2014 will be interesting
Happy new year

Kanbana for iPad

Gain clarity and balance workload

After realizing that “Clarity trumps effectiveness” I wanted to create a task manager that weighted clarity over everything else. This app should emphasize your content without anything else disturbing the eye. This is the reason why I ended up with a task board that has no menu bars, buttons or what so ever that not directly supports the main purpose of gaining clarity.

Clarity is also the reason why every task can vary in size to fit the full description. I find it very important that you can digest the content of your board in a glimpse without having to navigate further. If everything is visible to you it is easier to comprehend and will at the same time give a sense of your actual workload. If you can’t comprehend all the data at once it is probably a sign that you should try to lower your workload by completing work in progress instead of starting new activities.

Task management should be fun, easy and fast

One of the primary pitfalls that prevents people from using a task manager on a daily basis is that it requires discipline and takes up time. To fight these hard facts I try to do everything I can to live up to Kanbanas mantra that “Task management should be fun, easy and fast”.

Buttons and menu bars are replaced by gestures which hopefully adds a natural and smooth interaction with the board. creating and positioning a new task or stage on the board can be done in a single movement. Repositioning tasks and stages can be done in a single movement. The board is custom made to build the exact drag and drop experience I wanted and hopefully this adds up to a task board where you actually think that managing your life is enjoyable.

Simplicity over features

I know Personal Kanban enthusiasts (like myself) will miss WIP limits, lead time and cycle time like SCRUM practitioners will miss story point estimates and sub tasking. But this app is first of all about gaining clarity so if a feature compromises clarity it will have a hard time getting into the development pipeline. Not said that there will be no new features but that features like these will be selective add-ons so that the core product remains uncluttered, clean and simple.

I hope that you will enjoy this first version of Kanbana for iPad and as always your feedback is crucial to improve the product and keep my motivation going.

Clarity trumps Effectiveness

Effectiveness trumps Productivity

When I first started out studying self-help methods I spent about a year using The Pomodoro Technique. The goal of The Pomodoro Technique is to sharpen your focus in order to become more productive. But the goal is also its weakness which took me way too long to realize. I learned to focus and handle interruptions in a positive manner and as my focus increased I became more productive. The only problem was that you can be very good at focusing and very productive without adding value at all. If you don’t spend your time on the right things at the right time the effect of what you are doing will be negligible. Reflecting upon a longer period of time made me realize that I produced more than before, thanks to my increased focus, but for what? I didn’t feel much more motivated and happier than before so how could that be?

Instead of focusing on productivity I began to focus on being effective. How can I with minimal effort add as much value for myself and my surroundings as possible? This requires a much broader view of what you are doing because it is about taking the right descicions at the right time and ensuring that what you are doing right now is the most important thing in the world. This requires clarity of your whole life and all activities you have going on both at work as well as in your private life.

Clarity trumps Effectiveness

Clarity should give you a calming feeling of being on top of things and being in control of your own your life and decisions. Clarity is the ability to predict your own future because you’ve realized that what the future brings depends on the actions from the past. Most of us knows about the first day at work after a vacation where you have to spent most of the day handling your inbox. Why do you think that is? People are not writing to you without a reason. It is usually a reaction to some kind of initiative you’ve started yourself.

I use to say that clarity is a snapshot of all activities you want to do within the next two weeks combined with your predictions of inevitable activities that automatically will come to you and as mentioned early the best indicator of the future is a clear picture of the recent past. If you are able to establish a snapshot like this and make it easy to comprehend you are in possession of the context needed to be in control and take good decisions. Without enough context your decisions will be based on false assumptions and you’ll start to do not important activities and initiate more than your capacity allows.

Trying to be effective without having clarity is a waste of time. In Lean Manufacturing we talk about decision filters that should guide us at a high level ensuring we are focusing on the most valuable improvements:

  • Value trumps flow
  • Ffow trumps waste elimination

If I should sum up what I’ve been talking about it can be narrowed down to my personal lean decision filters that guides my life at a high level:

  • Effectiveness trumps Productivity
  • Clarity trumps Effectiveness

The birth of Kanbana

I’ve always been fascinated and driven by the fact that with a good idea and a computer at hand you have the ability to create something great. Throughout the years this entrepreneurial part of myself has been outlived in various spare time projects. Unfortunately it has never led to sustainable and value adding products which I’ve blamed the lack of a brilliant idea.

Last year I took a decision to stop waiting for the brilliant idea to fall down from the sky. I have been waiting for years so what are the chances of it happening in the future? and if it finally did what is the possibility of me having the skills, timing and luck to convert a potential brilliant idea into a success?

Instead I began looking inwards and tried to understand the challenges and drivers of my own life. Back in 2005 I got a new job and began to work in teams following agile methods such as Scrum. For me it was a revelation that made my work more motivating and also much easier to manage and comprehend. Clear objectives and a structured approach to gaining clarity was the key to being able to focus and work effectively in small batches that immediately created a clear sense of momentum.

As the years went by, my interest in agile methods grew along with an urge to spread the agile mindset and practice it to perfection. The consequence was that my own role changed from being a team member to advisory and managerial roles where my own clarity and focus was sacrificed in honor of the teams I was supporting.

My stress level began to rise, my focus and motivation dropped and I felt compelled to do something about the problem. I began to study methods about gaining focus and clarity as well as personal development in general. From this journey I learned a lot about my self and what I constantly have to be aware of in order to gain personal clarity, focus and clear valuable objectives.

As a consultant in different kinds of companies I observed that a lot of people struggle with lack of clarity and focus like myself. So far I’ve narrowed it down to all knowledge workers who are responsible for their own time is challenged on lack of clarity to some extent. They who are handling multiple projects and stakeholders at once have an even harder time and is often those who get stressed out and eventually lose motivation or even the ability to work.

During the last year, I have spent most of my spare time trying to solve this problem in the shape of a tool with an ambition to create enough value so that the target group will pay for a solution. It is not a new facebook, but the vision is an essential part of my own life, which I believe is a good starting point.

I know many of you walk around with a unsolved problem so now I “just” have to figure out how to solve it. A key challenge is that the solution I believe in at the time is simple and unsophisticated, but requires a disciplined approach as a person.

So, my headache is to create something that makes it incredibly easy to get started and with minimal discipline and effort creates enough value for you to “see the light”. For me it has been a long journey, so how do I boil down this journey so that you can start adding more clarity and focus to your life right away?

Kanbana is the name of the solution and its value proposition is as follows:

Kanbana is a simple and easy to use task board that will help Self-managing office workers who are juggling with many different kinds of projects and stakeholders at once get a clear visual overview of all everyday activities and achieve a stress less day, good decision making and easy prioritization according to your own goals and values

Kanbana can be found at http://kanbana.com and I can reveal so much that the sustainable solution isn’t found yet, but we have some happy early adopters and that is a good starting point.