Mario Cardinal

"The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes" – Marcel Proust


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To-Do Studio – the new name of our startup

For those of you who follow this blog, you know that in recent months we have re-positioned our startup and that we no more designing a personal task planner but instead, a creativity space to team up with others and do what is important today. We are currently experimenting to find a viable solution to enable asynchronous communication between teammates who share a to-do list. It is not a simple challenge. We still have many months of work in front of us before being ready to market a version 1 of this service.

Lately, we worked hard to find the name of this new service.

The importance of choosing the right name for software as a service (SaaS) is not to be taken lightly. Not only the name of your service is an important part of its “business card” on the web and in the apps store, but the name will enable customers to remember your product. This is about making your name talk-able. An easy name will make it easier for current users to refer your name to others. It is very well known that advertising is not a trustworthy marketing tactic as much as word-of-mouth. The name is probably the first thing prospective customers will find out about your application. It is a good way to differentiate yourself from your competition.

logo-dark-192We chose the name To-Do Studio. Not only it is talk-able and the domain name to-do.studio was available, but it clearly explains what differentiates our application of the hundred Todo apps that already exist on the market. First, it was important to have the word “Studio” because our service provide a creativity space to team up with others (aka a studio). Second, we choose the word “To-Do” to fully explain that the collaboration is done through to-do lists.

We did not feel the need to change the logo because it still communicates the right message.

On the other hand, to focus on a single name, in due course, we will also rename our company with the same To-Do Studio name.


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Three years later, what did I learn about bootstrapping

Bootstrap is a situation in which an entrepreneur starts a company with little capital. An individual is said to be bootstrapping when he or she attempts to found and build a company from the operating revenues of the new company.

The untold story behind many bootstrapping is this. You can hardly fund your startup from customer revenues but, instead, from your personal finances. The founders come to the table with more time, more energy and all their savings. In my case, with limited savings, over the last three years, I have generated the cash flow from the part-time consulting services I do on the side.

Bootstrapping using part-time consulting is a real challenge on your personal finance (not to mention energy and health). In general, little by little, you exhaust all your savings. After three years, I am in this situation right now. I need to revitalize my personal savings.

Fortunately, as a DevOps expert it was easy to find a full-time contract. For the Commission de la construction du Québec (CCQ), I will lead a major reorganization of the software release process and testing pipelines. Billing more hours will allow me to put aside money and rebuild my savings.


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Back to the drawing board

When restarting on new ground it is difficult to keep the momentum. Fortunately, we do not start from scratch. We are evaluating what we should retrieve from our old DayTickler product. There are many things that are still valid because we always aim to achieve what is important today. Obviously, with the new orientation, we must not only review the product, but also the name.

The most difficult will be to design the product features, those that allow to team up effectively. As previously stated, the challenge is not only to team up with others, but above all to enable asynchronous communication between teammates. This is not a simple solution to find. We are going to need to take our time to innovate properly.

Now that we are on the right path, we will need the endurance to go the difference.

We need to secure recurring revenues to ensure our financial security. My business partner and I, we are going back to do some consulting. We bootstrap our startup the best we can.


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Working on the wrong idea

The biggest risks founders face when starting something new is to keep working on the wrong idea and burnout. We are now convinced that the market does not need another daily planner to manage to-do lists. This learning was a long and winding process.

Success often comes down to a very small moment when a decision is made that has a significant impact. About a year ago, we decided to improve our daily planner by adding the ability to team up with others. At the time, this decision to share to-do lists with your close ones seemed like a secondary feature.

Lately we have finally realized that it should become the main feature of our service. We experienced the “Aha!” moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, and comprehension… that we are working on the wrong idea.

This awareness explains why the DayTickler product is still not available. We did not want to invest anymore in a product that is never going to be viable.

The main service of DayTickler is not anymore, a daily planner but instead, a creativity space to team up and do what is important today. We are back to the drawing board.


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Hello World Road Trip is in Montreal

The Hello World Road Trip featuring Shawn Wildermuth will be in Montreal on June 6th at noon at the Microsoft office’s. For the occasion, I will be the guest for the “Hello World” podcast. During the live recording you will learn my story of how I got started writing software.

HWRoadTriplogo

Following the recording, Shawn will be giving a talk: BUILDING APPS WITH ASP.NET CORE 1.0!

This event is FREE.  However, you must register on the website http://www.hwroadtrip.com/ for the event.


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Great FREE resource for online training

Successful developers never stop learning and technology never stops evolving. Here is a great opportunity for those of you who want to improve their technical skills for free.

I have already written in the past on the importance of continuous education. Several training options are available. Among my favorite options, some cost a few dollars a month like Pluralsight and some are free like Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA).

There is another free online resource offered by Microsoft that is too often forgotten.

channel-9-logo

Channel 9 is one of the premier industry-leading community content sites – there are tons of series’, shows, and events you are able to watch Live or On Demand.

Microsoft really want the community to experience all of the great Channel 9 content because it is a great FREE resource with superior content. Just a few weeks ago Microsoft released on channel 9, the entire contents of the conference //Build/.

Microsoft will do the same next week for the Evolve conference.


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Down the stretch

In this blog post, I am presenting how we just started the final stretch that will lead to the first release of DayTickler.

I was fairly quiet in recent months regarding DayTickler. Some readers may question if we were still alive? Think again! Being silent is certainly not a sign that we drop DayTickler. It is rather the opposite. We work so hard that there is little time to feed this blog.

Since January, we completed adding synchronization between device’s calendar and DayTickler. This new feature allows a unified view of all your commitments into the Today list. We are very pleased with the end result.

DayTickler_calendar

Unfortunately, on some other aspects everything is not perfect.

These days we are doing a major refactoring. We are adding the ability to itemize a to-do with a work plan. This will allow to tick partial achievements (and thus get the benefit of viewing them in the Done list). For us here, we think that the world will be a better place if you feel satisfy about your day. Unfortunately, because we are not supporting correctly partial achievements, it is difficult to provide this feeling of satisfaction. This is a major discovering we did using the Beta version of DayTickler. For every little step of work, the product must reward users. Overall, we need to encourage each and every one to achieve what is important in their life whether it is a small or a large step.

I leave you on this. I still have to finalize the user experience to reach version 1. Completing these latest features is a long winding road. It takes time. Give us a few more months to fine tune everything and soon you will be able to download DayTickler from your favorite app store.