The ubiquity of social media has transformed the way in which we process and share information. On account of Twitter, for example, we’ve seen the rise of the almighty hashtag, and with the quick slip of an at sign in front of a username, we extend a personal invitation to others into a conversation. Twitter’s social language has gained such a grip on our mores that other mediums, like Facebook and Instagram, have also adopted the platforms communication conventions.
Taking this practice one step further is Fetchnotes, a Cambridge-based productivity app that allows individuals to sort and share their thoughts and to-dos through the app. The Techstars 2012 alumnus announced Wednesday it has launched the newest version of the app, which emphasizes communication between friends, family and teams, all with the end goal of making life more enjoyable – which is what the equal parts passionate and playful team of 20-somethings behind the app do best.
“Rather than us imposing a system on you, organization just emerges naturally from the way you use a product,” Fetchnotes Co-founder and CEO Alex Schiff told BostInno of the app’s organization structure.
Users organize as they type, using hashtags and sharing as they create a note, employing the same conventions as one would when composing a tweet, but unfettered from the social media platform’s 140-character maximum.
“Because it’s happening as you’re writing and chosen by the original user,” explained Schiff, “that method of organization and structure happens seamlessly, rather than us saying this is the system we think you should be using to get this done.”
While the first version of the app focused on individual utility, this second iteration offers a number of new features designed to make connecting with others easier, starting with an end-to-end redesign. With its newest version, Fetchnotes offers its more than 80,000 users a push notification option, as well as address book integration share, which enables people to pass along Fetchnotes to non-users via text messaging.
Schiff began working on Fetchnotes with a group of students at the University of Michigan. When Fetchnotes scored itself a seat in the Fall 2012 TechStars class, Schiff, along with Co-founders Matt Brandly and Alex Horak, and lead engineer Mike Marsh decided to put their studies on hold to pursue their product. Ryan Gonzalez joined the startup’s efforts full-time after interning this summer, while Giles Van Gruisen came to the team almost directly after graduating high school in 2012.
And it doesn’t take much to find the crew of rowdy engineers’ touch on the app.
After logging a few Fetchnotes, for example, an app notification pops up congratulating users on their saved time by pulling up a picture of “[Alex] Horak wearing a horse head mask and Marsh wearing a viking helmet, riding on top of him like a horse,” noted Schiff, with a playful smirk.
“We try to imbue a sense of uniqueness into our product,” explained Schiff. “In our industry, in particular, it’s just so stodgy…The metrics of success in our industry aren’t cycle rate, or how many tasks you’ve accomplished, it’s how much happier are you as a result of our product.”
The realization of this uniqueness includes fun team photos like the one referred to above and personalized welcome emails to new users from Schiff. Further, in an effort to raise funding, Fetchnotes offered to send a video of the crew doing karaoke to whomever put down a few bucks to keep their servers running. (After crowdsourcing the song selection, they ended up crooning “Sweet Caroline.”)
The Fetchnotes team has also had a handful of other humorous, yet unintentional, displays of “uniqueness” in the past year, however, divulges the startup’s CEO. When trying to send an “internal” test email last year, the team accidentally sent the following message to all of its users: “This is my test b*tches.”
According to Schiff, they received close to 500 responses from recipients, of which 95 percent thought it was funny.
Despite their transgressions, Fetchnotes’ founding team is hungry for success, and investors have noticed. The startup closed on $425,000 in February 2013 from a number of notable Boston investors, including Mike Dornbrook, the ex-COO of Harmonix; the Beta Fund; Michael Gaiss, formerly at Highland Capital; and Tim Howes, who co-founded Rockmelt, which was acquired by Yahoo this year.
Though the app is currently only available for iPhone, Fetchnotes plans to roll out the app for Android and the Web within the next few months.