November 6, 2018

Idea Validation - Text Message Reminders That Make Adulting Easier

Here's the idea 👉 https://ashby.app

I've finally gotten the hint after tons of dead projects and am trying to validate this idea prior to coding anything beyond the landing page https://ashby.app

This would be a SaaS service that, mainly through text messages, helps you keep track of adult tasks and responsibilities like taxes, important docs, completing things prior to deadlines, etc. There'd also be guidance/resources/suggestions, and a web app where you can more flexibly manage things, securely store docs, etc.

Two main questions

  • How do you manage your adult responsibilities, i.e. "adulting" currently? Why?

  • Would you pay something like $1/mo for Ashby to guide you, give advice, remind you of important dates, keep track of basic dates and info, etc?


  1. 4

    What is it doing that my desktop calendar doesn't already do for me?

    And surely, with account synching, most people who are on the go and use their mobile phones to run their lives, will already have synched everything up so that, no matter where they enter the data, they can be alerted.

    I'm not sure what the USP is here.

    1. 2

      Yea, I'm afraid that's what I thought too, although thinking specifically of Google Calendar. I have a few different calendars in there, and one's for 'chores' like annual car tax, insurance, etc.

      1. 1

        Google Calendar is a case in point.

        The feature set covers everything @Ryan217 mentions and it is free to use.

        https://support.google.com/calendar/?hl=en#topic=3417969

        Even if you chosoe the paid-for version, you're looking at $5 per month / $50 per year. A difficult sell.

        https://smallbusiness.chron.com/google-calendar-vs-google-calendar-business-61343.html

        1. 1

          I clearly need to work on how I explain this!

          The value is not in having the ability to set text reminders - that's just the mechanism.

          The value is having the software guide you in considering things you may not have considered, providing tips, generating reminders based on your profile and answers to questions, etc.

          In my past life, I was a financial planner. My friends would constantly ask for advice about how to think about insurance, what needs to be handled when switching jobs or moving, tax stuff, etc. I'd respond with common sense tips, resources, etc.

          Ashby would just be the automated version of me helping my friends navigate adulthood.

          1. 3

            Yup - you're right! You really do need to work on the sales pitch.

            However, now I understand what you are talking about and I can see the value proposition.

            There's loads of stuff you can build into it: wills, insurance, vehicle servicing, licensing, pension reviews, utility company swapping ....

            It also really lends itself to targetted advertising at the right places in the programme.

            It's really a life navigation aid rather than a reminder service.

            Given what I now know, I would turn the entire landing page around. At present, it concentrates on the technical solution - which is why I didn't get it. If you promote it as Life Aid, with examples of the sorts of things with which it can help you, I think you could be on to a nice little earner - especially when you can sell geo-specific advertising spots for - ahem - adult services.

            1. 1

              Thank you @thomasm1964!!!! That's the clarity my brain's incapable of at the moment....

              And you have no idea how I've been struggling to avoid any weird "adult" verbiage 😂

              1. 2

                You have no excuse for having a foggy brain, not with all that wind coming in off Lake Michigan!

              2. 1

                If you don't want to use "adult", you could always promote yourself as Life Aid For Grown-Ups.

                Do Americans call adults "grown-ups"?

                1. 1

                  Grown-ups is normally a world children use (at least that's how I think of it), but it should still work when "adult" could mean less appropriate stuff... 😬

                  1. 2

                    Same in the U.K.

                    Just listening to the cows mooing. It was auction day today in the village and the cows are in the field behind the market. I hope they settle down soon. It’s bedtime!

    2. 1

      Thanks for taking the time @thomasm1964 and @thepodcasthost.

      This wouldn't require the user to set any reminders explicitly. It would use a combo of common sense best practices and user responses to questions to generate reminders, provide relevant guidance and helpful resources, tips, etc. Kind of like a responsible friend who nudges you and gives you advice.

      The value prop isn't the text reminders - it's not having to worry about whether you're missing anything important, and knowing the app is keeping track of stuff and letting you know when to worry about it.

      So rather than you having to cover all of your bases and fill out your adulting tasks on your own, Ashby would recommend things to do, make sure you haven't missed anything, etc.

  2. 2
    • How do you manage your adult responsibilities, i.e. "adulting" currently? Why? Manage would be extremely generous. More like scramble at the last moment. The only exception is staying on top of my budget.

    • Would you pay something like $1/mo for Ashby to guide you, give advice, remind you of important dates, keep track of basic dates and info, etc? Maybe. Depends upon how useful and how relevant. But if Ashby were to give me on bite-size task every week to take of stuff like stock options, wills, small business taxes, etc., I'd be in for a $1/month.

    1. 1

      Thanks @harlem!!!

      It's probably a bit tough to incorporate stuff like small biz taxes, at least initially gotta keep the scope of the project manageable, but that could also be an interesting way to make the product more niche to indie hackers/freelancers 🤷‍♂️

  3. 2

    I use a calendar, notes on my phone, reminders on my phone, sticky notes, and occasionally a paper Todo list.

    I see value in your adulting assistant but changing my current behavior may prove difficult. Also if it isn't able to replace most all my notification needs I don't know that the value of changing is worth the difficulty.

    Perhaps finding a really high value reminder to showcase would help sway me. Like is there an important deadline I can't trust myself to handle on my own? One that missing would be painful?

    1. 2

      Thanks for helping me think through this stuff, @GregJarm!

    2. 1

      For someone who is super proactive and responsible, there probably isn't a whole lot of value-add here.

      But most folks can't reasonably know/consider everything, like...

      • do I have saved copies of all my important docs? Ashby would ask if you do and remind you until you upload them to a secure doc vault on ashby.app (or confirm you saved them elsewhere)

      • I'm moving - what do I need to take care of - Ashby would provide resources, guidance, ask if certain things apply, and tailor reminders to your situation (change voter registration, change utilities, update bank account details, etc.)

      Basic reminder examples would be...

      • credit/debit card expiration reminders. Ashby would ask you to input that at onboarding, give you ample heads up and ask for the new expiration(s) when you get the new card(s)

      • turning 26 a year from now? You'll be ineligble to be covered by parents' health insurance, so start considering options. More reminders with more tips/resources as you get closer

      To respond to the difficulty of changing your current behavior...

      • you wouldn't really create reminders - Ashby would do that based on your onboarding answers, sporadic inputs by the user and just widely applicable stuff

      • would be mainly text messages, but could theoretically be delivered through any reminder service, or integrated into any calendar

      In the end, seems like my copy/explanation is pure crap at the moment. But hey, that's why we do early validation - to fail early!

      1. 2

        This is clear and well presented.

        I can see how onboarding could be a little overwhelming if you have lots of questions to answer but you could trickle out the questions over time. Since it is text message based I assume it could be like a regular conversation. That seems pretty cool. Ashby is kinda like mom a little bit, checking in to make sure you remember stuff.

        1. 1

          Totally agree on trickling - UI/UX is huge for this kind of thing!

          And the mom/responsible, reliable friend metaphor is definitely making its way into the landing page 2.0, thanks @GregJarm

  4. 2

    I have seen a few mobile apps like this popup but nothing that has completely taken my attention from what I currently use - a sticky note. Many things come into play here such as the UI-UX portion of the app, how your reminders function, how easy it is to record a reminder and elements of that nature. Link to the landing page?

    1. 1

      And to expound a bit @avenged, vast majority of interaction with Ashby (reminders, updating basic info, etc.) would be through text messages.

      And the reminders would be created by Ashby, based on an initial onboarding form and sporadic updates from the user. So users wouldn't really create reminders, they'd answer questions from Ashby, and then the backend would do the work of planning reminders and stuff like that.

      Thanks for the feedback!

    2. 1

      Yep, landing page is at https://ashby.app

      I think you're absolutely right - UX is major factor here, especially to make mundane, annoying, stressful stuff not suck.

      1. 2

        Hi again Ryan. I took a look at your landing page and am wishing there were more examples and/or perhaps more information about what limitations Ashby has, if any at all. What are the main pain points that Ashby sets out to dominate?

        1. 1

          Hmmm, not sure what you mean by limitations? Like limitations of the scope of the reminders?

          And the main pain point Ashby sets out to dominate is worrying about whether you've considered everything related to "grownup responsibilities" and making sure you are staying on top of them.

          So currently, some folks learn about basic personal finance, what important docs to have on hand, when those need to be updated or renewed, how taxes change as your life changes, what steps to take if moving or getting a new job etc.

          Most folks don't have a strong grasp on that stuff, nor do they want to. Because it's boring and annoying. So Ashby would lighten that burden by being a constant little assistant that nudges you to handle things, warns you when deadlines are approaching, gives you practical tips relavant to time/life experience, etc.

          1. 2

            @Ryan217, hello Ryan. I am late to the party.

            When I say limitations, I am referencing what pain points consumers have that Ashby should be able to handle but cannot presently handle.

            I get the point of Ashby and it is great. I would totally use Ashby. I like reminders and knowing what is up next.

            Nudges to handle things works wonderfully and I use a few similar (in concept) plugins on the web that let me know I need to do X on such date by such time. It's nice to be reminded.

  5. 2

    Man and I thought you were building an adulting version of this:

    http://www.textsfromlastnight.com/

    1. 1

      Haha, no, even though that would be funny as hell.

      Maybe I could incorporate the #adulting hashtag, and send funny ones to balance out boring but useful tips about filing taxes...

  6. 1

    Cool idea now that I understand it.

    Perhaps you could take it one step further & offer a personal assistant service for life's most common or mundane tasks? You could even link certain categories of tasks (like getting your DL renewed) to a page that lists service providers, and you could charge them a % of the revenue. It could be the 'ole freemium model w/the up-sell being the services. It's essentially an AI chat bot w/a potential link to real services.

    Think about in the case of renewing your auto insurance. What if the app sent current policy documents out to every single insurance provider automatically to match coverage & gave you quotes & rates of those providers, and you earned a commission off of each renewal (or lead generated for a broker)?

    Keep going. There's something there.

    1. 1

      Whoa, you're blowing my mind @patrickb, that's some fantastic stuff!

      Definitely much to think about (especially my copy/explanation/value prop 😬), and I'll for sure be keeping your idea in mind of Ashby also acting as a helpful gateway to actual services, vs. simply giving advice.

      1. 1

        Yeah get in touch with me if you ever want to talk shop more. I'm an idea machine & a big-picture thinker! :-) Your idea is intriguing.

        I could probably also help you craft a USP/Value Prop. Maybe you can trade some software dev advice to me in return!

        1. 1

          Totally down @patrickb 🙌

          My email's ryanjyost at gmail dot com, reach out if you need any software help.