Beeminder Hits the Oregon Trail

Monday, March 5, 2012
By bsoule

Beeminder headquarters is now officially in Portland, Oregon! We’re proud and excited to announce that we’ve been accepted into the Portland Seed Fund’s newest class of startups. We’re in the esteemed company of Gliph, GlobeSherpa, Good Works Now, Indow Windows, SERPs, Showkicker, and Tell it in 10 [UPDATE: pivoted to Glider]. (Mouse over those for our attempts to describe them in a phrase.) Also some brilliant alumni of Portland Seed Fund like Geoloqi and Audioname.

We’re in a cozy office in the hyper-hipster Pearl District with the friendly folks at Upstart Labs. Our monitors are set up, our post-its are plastered on the walls, and we’ve put fenders on our bikes. We’re settling in nicely.

We’re both hardcore hacker nerds in desperate need of the business-oriented mentoring that Portland Seed Fund has to offer. But we’re committed (quite literally) to not letting that distract us from the actual product. To give that gradual, inexorable progress some direction, here are our high-level goals for the next few months:

1. Make the goal creation process much friendlier so people find it intuitive to dive in. There’s also a mental block many people have about the idea of Beeminder benefiting from failed commitments, which we have a great counter-argument for, but that doesn’t help with people who immediately walk away. We’ve also just started experimenting with subscriptions. We have one intrepid user who is paying $12/month to be able to jump to any amount at risk. Interestingly, he wasn’t concerned about paying the lower amounts but he worried that he wouldn’t reset after his initial failures so he wanted to go straight to the$270 pledge level to keep himself in line from the start. We’re still working on other features to include for premium subscriptions before we roll it out publicly. (Thanks so much to everyone chomping at the bit to get in on this!) [UPDATE: We’ve launched premium plans for real now.]

2. Automate emails that we’re currently sending semi-manually. We got a good start on that this weekend by automating our confirmation emails when someone falls off their yellow brick road. We also have work to do on lifecycle emails. We’ve been paranoid about being spammy so we’ve been slow to do this. We even have the bot reminder emails automatically decay in frequency until they stop, if you don’t reply to them. But with 3800 goals and growing fast [UPDATE 2013: now tens of thousands], we need to get the humans more and more out of the loop.

3. Publish our API! We think this will be huge. Mainly we want to make it easy to do with many other companies what we’ve done so far as a prototype with Skritter.com — allow other services to automatically send data to Beeminder on behalf of users to update their graphs. So people using Skritter to learn to write Chinese and Japanese can commit to a certain amount of practice per week, without having to enter data into Beeminder separately. Of course we already have integration with the Withings scale and are excited to integrate with a million other devices. [UPDATE: Our API is published now! And lots more integrations!]

4. And of course we have a laundry list of feature requests on our feedback forum that our users are clamoring for. We can’t begin to tell you how grateful we are to have such an enthusiastic and engaged user community.

Title image: Samuel McLaughlin

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