Higher Goals

The habit & goal tracker for effective founders

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Founders Code
Solo Founder
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On my journey of finding happiness and meaning, settings goals and tracking motivations have been the key to my transformation. I've always wished there is a place that I can trust to track my motivations.

May 30, 2020 Crossing the chasm?

It's been 2 months since my last update.

In April, the MAU of Goals has almost quadrupled without active marketing. It seems it's all through organic Play Store search (ranking #1 for keyword "goals" and 3 - 6 for keywords "goal tracker") or word-of-mouth.

The revenue also tripled from March to reach $1.4K/mo.

I am super excited about the next few big initiatives I am going to launch. I think they will make the app light-years ahead of competitors and can potentially kick-off the app's growth engine.

However, in the past week I've been hit with many 1 - 2 star reviews. Only one or two reviews are bug/performance related which I know how fix. Most other negative review are about requiring an account or the app is not free.

It doesn't feel great to read them. "These people have no empathy and don't care how much hard work I've put into it. I wish they knew I got bad neck and shoulder pains from working long hours to make the app as great as possible." Yeah, I felt sorry for myself lol.

So yesterday, after I got another 2-star review without explanation, I decided to hack my motivation - by going out for a 5K run for each future bad reviews. I used to hate running but now I know it makes me feel good and tough afterwards.

On a positive note, it seems the app is getting into the hands of main stream users who are more critical than early adopters who have been so patient and kind to me.

I guess I want to believe that the app is mature enough to become a main stream product, and it feels kind of scary. I gotta be prepared for that.

March 30, 2020 March is the best month so far

Wow, I can't believe it's been 3 months since my last update when I first started to monetize the app by adding in-app purchases.

I've been ultra-productive in terms of staying home and banging out code. January and February were tough on my mental state as I get pretty exhausted releasing 2 - 3 updates per week, yet not seeing much immediate return for the hard work. I know I was behind on marketing but solving existing users' issues seemed more important. They were well-thought comments by users who care and I can't let them down.

Some of the 1-star ratings without reviews baffled me and had really harsh effects on me. "I put my heart into doing my best work with my best intentions and people just trashed on it without even explaining why?" My wife had been very supportive so that helped me overcome these feelings quickly. After all, Mindful Suite is created based on the philosophies I've learned over the last couple of years, and I need to practice what I preach by staying calm and benevolent.

The revenue in March (post fee by google and apple) will add up to around $500, getting close to how much I used to earn post-tax in 1 day when I had a salary lol. But I like where the curve is going!

The number of suggestions/requests I am getting is also increasing from 2 - 3/week to ~10/week. That definitely means more stress and more work, but this also accelerates the rate of development because I get better ideas of what features are most valuable to the users.

Hang in there everyone! When the air feels too calm, it might be the sign of a pending storm!

December 27, 2019 First 5 paying customers

I've added in-app-purchase to MindfulGoals in October. I've granted all existing users free Pro accounts for being early adopters so no paying customers were acquired.

In December, I added a few features: dark mode, reward tracking, and deadline tracking, and launched on ProductHunt.

As part of the launch, I posted the page to my personal social network profiles: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, email and SMS, asking my friends to help upvote. One of my friends became the first paying user. About a week after the ProductHunt launch, I found that a few users have subscribed to the monthly plan.

So this validates that the product is helpful to them in some way, and keeps me motivated to continue to improve it for my customers.

August 22, 2019 MindfulGoals is now live in the app stores

After about a week of beta testing, MindfulGoals is now live in the Google Play store and Apple App store.

It's pretty exciting because I no longer need to worry that people may think it's vaporware. :-). I've done that too many time haha.

I am more excited that I can finally move to the promotion and marketing stage where I can explore many different distribution channels and strategies. Yes, building is fun but marketing is the ultimate challenge to creativity and my understanding of how the world works. Can't wait to see what I'll learn.

I got about 150 users in the first 36 hours of the release and already received 2 feature requests from people I didn't know before. So the feedback loop and the growth engine is started!

I hope by iteratively improving the app I can earn more trust from the users and make the app super easy-to-use.

Thanks for all the encouragement on IndieHackers. It's really been a big part of the inspiration for me!

August 17, 2019 Mindful Goals is ready for Open Beta

I quit my full-time job as Tech Lead of Growth at a Boston startup exactly 2 months ago. While working at startups is fun and great for learning, I have decided to make the jump to pursue what's truly meaningful to me - building an app that delights.

I am inspired by Time every day. It's the source of both of our happiness and stresses. To build an app that helps people manage the passing of time, not just letting it slip, is the most value creation I can think of. My goal is to reach 1 million users and help each of them save 1 hour a year, working on what they truly love instead of feeling lonely in self-doubt.

It's a daunting task, but it accelerates my blood. After working on it for 60 days, 15 days of user interviews followed by 45 days of development, I'd like to say that Mindful Goals is ready for Open Beta. Please head to the website, enter your email and you will receive links to beta builds for iOS and Android.

The reason your email is needed because I'd like to give all beta testers who have given me feedback 1 year of free access to all premium features as I add them. I literally could not get to where I am now without the help from a lot of people here, so I'd like to show my appreciation!

September 1, 2007 The seed of the idea

I went back to school in September of 2007, after a full year of internship at IBM working on Web 2.0 projects, I felt I need to take school work more seriously.

I took out a sheet of paper, drew a grid on it. On the left most column, I wrote down all the assignments and books to read for the semester. Then, I estimated how much time each would take to finish, and wrote them down on the second column.

As the semester goes, I updated the time spent on each item, and adjusted the time estimates to account for the works remain. The end result? I did not miss any assignments or exams, and got a 3.5/4.0 GPA for my 4 CS courses. I've since hoped that a system or an app that can help me manage mid-to-long term goals to exist.

Over the years, many apps have appeared then gone - Sunrise calendar, Wunderlist, Evernote, and Anydo etc.

Fast forward to 12 years later, I am still in search of an app that does what I did. So I decided to take it on early this year.

It's not a bad thing that I waited for 12 years to start working on this idea. I now have a time management philosophy that works wonders for me, so I know what truly matters in a time management system that actually work. So I'd like to create a suite of apps that can replace my current tools, but still maintain the same philosophy, and through this process, open the opportunity to help more people with their ambitions and journeys.

On my journey of finding happiness and meaning, settings goals and tracking motivations have been the key to my transformation. I've always wished there is a place that I can trust to track my motivations.