A common problem that productivity applications have is the short usage curve. From initial download to current use, the likelihood of an average productivity app being forgotten early on is pretty high. This is an issue Michael Hansen (@mhansend)and Ryan Orbuch (@orbuch) are attempting to solve with Finish for iOS.
The app keeps you coming back with its unique notification and priority system, keeping certain tasks out of view until they need to get done. How do they do this? What challenges did they encounter when producing the top ranking productivity app on the App Store? I had a conversation with the designer behind Finish, Ryan Orbuch, where we discussed this, more about the Boulder, Colorado tech scene, and advice for novice developers to serial entrepreneurs alike.
Finish: The Company and People Behind It
The Finish application for iOS is available under the company name of Basil, developed and designed by Michael Hansen and Ryan Orbuch. How does Finish work?
First, you have to set the parameters for what you consider short, mid, and long term tasks. For example, if you personally believe that anything due within a few days is short term, you may set the parameters for within 2-3 days. If a week is considered mid-term tasks, set accordingly. Long term tasks, set according to your discretion.
From there, you can add the tasks and checklists that need to get done the minute they are thrown at you. Finish will use the settings you configured in the beginning to decide if you need to worry about the task now or in the future.
Balancing Projects and School
Education was a subject mentioned a lot in my conversation with Ryan Orbuch. One issue that developers and designers have are being able to balance current and future projects with schoolwork. When I asked Ryan how he is able to balance both aspects important to his life, he mentions how “working as far ahead as possible” and great time management is the key to having a good balance.
If you are currently struggling to get your homework or class papers in, it certainly wouldn’t help to add a tech project to that. Orbuch also mentions of how working in a team certainly helps with keeping sanity. Being able to shift work between each other when one has a test or assignment coming up is a huge gift.
The Timeline of Finish
It was a long road for both of us, but I think we both agree that it was totally worth it. Staying motivated while trying to build Finish was definitely one of the most difficult parts of the process. – Michael Hansen (Finish Developer)
So how did Finish exactly get from being an idea to being a top ranking productivity app? The initial concept began during the dreaded sophomore finals season. The challenge at hand was being able to have a tool that allowed for them to focus on the important tasks at hand, without being distracted with the other tasks awaiting them in the future.
After a few months at the drawing board, the concept was tried and tested. A few hiccups ironed out into the app that is sitting in the App Store today. All in all, it took them about a year to reach this point, mainly due to this being their first large project, including Michael Hansen’s first time with Objective-C. Summer was considered a prime time for them to truly hit the ground running. However, Ryan mentions that setting high but reasonable deadlines allowed them to finish in an acceptable timeframe.
Boulder: The Growing Tech Scene
The Finish developers reign from Boulder, Colorado, a city with one of the largest and fastest growing tech scenes in the country. Rally Software, Pivotal Labs, and TechStars are a few of the many big tech names stationed in Boulder.
Unlike Silicon Valley, Boulder’s tech scene has the perfect mix of a close knit town feel with its large, hard-working high tech companies to aspire to or be part of. Plus, the amazing scenery is a great complement. As Orbuch walked down Pearl Street during our conversation, the locale’s high concentration of high tech companies is parallel to Venture Capital’s mark on Sand Hill Road.
The Future of Basil
Currently, Basil‘s main focus is prepping and improving Finish. Bringing the application to other platforms, including Mac and Android is a likely next step for the company. Basil, and more specifically Finish’s, heavy focus on the “science of motivation” shows that anything Basil has in their pipeline next will certainly help us get through some of the things in life that are harder to get through or keep organized. This can be in the realm of education or even with innovative ways to look at how we can get even more tasks completed.
More from Ryan
Entrepreneurship, specifically in the tech sector, is all about helping each other out, from developers, designers, and coders to business developers, tech writers, and marketers. Ryan made it a point to mention about how open he is to questions, giving advice, and assisting prospective entrepreneurs. If you are interested in contacting Ryan, he is available by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and on Twitter (@orbuch).
Be sure to share this article with entrepreneurs and other interested individuals. Comment below with lessons you’ve learned during the development of your specific projects.