Y-Productive: a startup product helping to improve your productivity at work

Is there a way to control your work and distractions when you feel an urge to open your mailbox or scroll your Facebook news feed? Y-Productive startup team is sure: yes, there is a way. They have developed an application helping to fight against procrastination and increase working productivity. With Y-Productive you get a chance to focus better on your tasks and to work more efficiently.

Kirill Taranenko, со-founder and PR manager of the Y-Productive startup project, has given an interview to newline.tech and explained us in details how office employees may benefit from the application.

Please describe the essence of Y-Productive in one sentence.

Y-Productive helps to control your work and distractions.

How did you get the idea to develop the application?

Alexander Zhebryakov, our CEO, had a heavy productivity burnout. He is a businessman, he has a wife and a 2-year-old son: trying to be more efficient, he worked more and more and finally felt totally exhausted. In result, he realized that working a lot and being productive is not the same.

Hence Alex got the idea: to work more productive in a digital world, we need a tool that helps to control our work and distractions.

How many members are there in your team and how do you distribute tasks and share responsibilities?

The team consists of six members: three of them are in the business team and three in the development team. You can read more about it on our page entitled “About us”.

In what way Y-Productive differs from similar applications and programs in terms of quality?

There are several differences.

  1. Y-Productive has a user-friendly design. It literally takes a couple of minutes to get use to the app and start working.
  2. The productivity feedback is always succinct and work-related. Nobody wants to get drowned in the feedback on how you made a break and was watching a video on YT, right?
  3. The application is very flexible. It can adapt to the needs of different people who are not always equally interested in improving their productivity.

You can either block unproductive websites and use the application in the background. In such use case, you only need to look up from time to time to find out how efficient and productive you are.  Or, you can receive an in-depth analysis of your working process, track tasks and discover a lot of new details about your working habits taking into account the type of work you do.

For the time being, there is only a desktop version of Y-Productive. Why have you started by developing this very kind of version instead of any other one and when are you planning to launch a mobile app?

The thing is that by now Apple hasn’t succeeded yet to produce a developer’s kit for iOS. They promise to develop the functionality similar to that of Y-Productive for cell phones by the moment of launch of their version 12, which is said to come soon, but we would like to create an application, interconnecting the feedback coming from a computer and the one coming from a cell phone and integrating them. That’s why we need some special development tools: for the moment the permission for access to the system we have been granted is limited and does not allow to make any sophisticated developments. People are furious, they have even launched a petition appealing to Apple in order to make them give us the access to the functions of digital wellness. More details on the topic are given here.

Yes, it’s already possible with Android, but in any case, the issue is not yet closed, so in the meantime, we prefer to concentrate the resources we have at our disposal on the development of the functionality for an updated web version.

How long does the effect last and the application remain useful?

As long as you use it. I have already mentioned that people have lots of different ways of dealing with their productivity. Metaphorically speaking, you can use the app similar to jogging in a gym: use the Focus Mode, block the sites you are usually distracted by, and look up from time to time at the diagram to check how much time you have lost and how often you have been interrupted. You’ll keep yourself in tonus, and that’s it.

The other option is to increase your productivity and to practice your habits. Track the time spent for tasks and projects, control your habits, don’t allow yourself to be easily distracted, follow a tight schedule and adopt a more intensive and rigorous manner to work concentrating on the task. The application we are talking about is really helpful if you want to cope with this kind of problem, in many ways because we take into account human psychology and some aspects of human working behavior.

What kind of knowledge about human psychology does the application take into consideration?

The most popular and the simplest function here is Focus Mode or a site blocking device based on the understanding that the brain of modern people has got used to catching regular flashes of pleasure.

For example, you log into Facebook, scroll down your news feed, see a couple of bright pictures or something funny and get a portion of positive emotions, but in fact it’s not good for your working productivity as it distracts you and your attention preventing you from concentrating on the task you are currently working on.

That’s why we have implemented a distraction counter for unproductive sites and applications. One can say: what’s the deal with me having a quick look at what’s going on at my favorite website?

Unfortunately the reality is shocking: we don’t even notice how many times we get distracted by all these websites and applications. 30-40 (and sometimes up to 100) times during a single working day! Even if you stay online just for a couple of minutes, multiple these 2 minutes by the number of attempts to distract yourself and you will be surprised to discover how much of your time slips away.

The thing is that your urge for distraction in  scrolling the news feed instead of working is subconscious. This is the purpose Focus Mode was introduced for: it is a kind of a buffer between your intention and the action. It gives you a couple of seconds you need to understand if you are really tired or if you are just procrastinating. If your attention is distracted by an application, you will receive a system notification reminding you that you were going to work. It is necessary to reduce subconscious distractions, which actually are the most frequently occurred ones, to the strictest minimum.

More to that, the function of rapid categorization on the main screen of the application and the scroll of the news feed are based on the same principle. A sequence of simple actions (a «click-click» in this case) forms the necessary habit, because you are immediately rewarded, if you act in the right way: since you provide yourself with a larger context describing your behavior, you make one more step towards increasing your productivity and receive an encouraging message.

We think as well about introducing the function of Goals. You can set yourself a goal like «spend no more than 30 minutes a day on unproductive activities», etc. The app will visualize the progress on if and how you succeed in handling the task. It’s a gamification, a very simple thing, which will fit perfectly with the core idea: to work and to make efforts to increase your productivity.

Who is your real customer?

People who know the price of their time. Office top managers, freelancers or entrepreneurs. In other words, people whose financial well-being and work-life balance depend not on the time they spend in front of the computer but on their productivity and efficiency.

How important were the financial investments you had to make for the development of the application? Was it your own money or you borrowed the necessary sum from someone who was interested in supporting you?

For the moment it’s about $50k. These are our personal investments, as we stick to the principle of financing the project using our own resources since we want to be free to respect the opinion of our users and customers instead of following the line imposed by an investor.

How did you manage to find your first customers?

Through Facebook Ads. We needed to validate both the idea and the functionality. PPC ads is the fastest way to do it.

What is the market you would like to win and what method of promotion helps you to attract the most of your clients?

These are mostly European and American markets. Our best method of promotion is currently guerilla marketing or posts in niche blogs and on forums like Reddit and Quora. There special topics or subreddits with people who are interested in improving their productivity.

If it’s not a secret, how much money do you spend monthly for the promotion?

No more than $500, due to guerilla marketing.

What is the most complicated part of the development of the project?

It depends on the stage of development. There are always some difficult moments: to build a team, to distribute shares in a proper way in order to avoid misunderstandings in future, to create a concept bringing it into life, to validate the idea, to shape a strong and competitive brand identity and to promote it further and further…

The most important challenge at any stage is to understand where you move and what you aim for instead of overloading the application with new unnecessary functions neglecting those which may be really useful. Each new function is time and money you invest, which is especially important when you develop the project on your own.

If your customers start losing interest in your project, how will you modify the concept of the application?

We don’t think about it this way. We keep developing the application to make it even more comfortable in use. For example, currently we are working on the automation of certain processes: weekly reports sent to your email, more detailed productivity reports for a week/month etc.

It’s not about changing the concept: it either works or doesn’t work. But our application can make life easier, and that’s what is our goal.

What would you recommend to all those who try to promote a startup project? What is the first thing to do?

Make sure your idea really works before making serious investments. Develop a prototype including only the features necessary to understand the idea and the essence of the project – the MVP. Show it to your potential customers  (drive the traffic of your target audience on the site) and see if they are ready to pay for it.

An even better option is to grow an audience before even launching the project. These people will become your first users and customers.

What kind of mistakes have you made when launching your project and how have you coped with them?

We failed to gather the audience before the launch. It was impossible to catch up on it later, so we just kept moving forward from the start.

What books/movies help you to improve Y-Productive?

«Your Brain at Work» by David Rock. It is a book providing simple and clear basic explanations of how our brain functions when it works.

All kinds of practical guidance on marketing by Intercom, the company that also launched a project without any third-party financial investments. These books are useful as they help to understand how to work with the product.

Would you recommend to startuppers to subscribe for the pages of any Internet communities able to provide them with some helpful information?

Yes, for example, the forum IndieHackers created for entrepreneurs who finance their projects independently.

And, besides, TheCEOLibrary, regularly interviewing Chief Executive Officers, who recommend books helping them to create and to promote projects.

If there were no Y-Productive, what another project would you develop?

Me personally? A newsletter accessible on a paid subscription: it’s very trendy and requires minimal investments.

How do you see further development of your project?

Y-Productive will become even more comfortable in use: we are going to automate a lot of functions, helping our customers to understand themselves and their habits almost without efforts.

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