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Every day, more and more of us are faced with the challenging reality of working in isolation—remote workers, freelancers, entrepreneurs, students, side hustlers.
Meanwhile distractions are at an all-time high, with procrastination and adult ADHD now at record rates, and still rising.
And yet, with technology automating more of what we do, the ability to do focused, creative work has never been more valuable.
A slew of solutions have proven ineffective at addressing procrastination—from task managers and site blockers, which skirt the problem, to pills and coaching, which are both expensive and inadequate.
Meanwhile, isolated workers attempt to stimulate social accountability by resorting to coffee shops, coworking spaces, and online chat-rooms, which often prove counterproductive.
Our starting point is a virtual coworking product that induces what psychologists call flow: long stretches of intense focus.
Two users, anywhere in the world, act as accountability partners, sitting side-by-side while doing their work, during a 50-minute video interaction.
These sessions use an evidence-based format designed to optimize productivity.
How It Works
Workplace research has proven that the most effective behavioral triggers are human ones, rooted in millennia of tribal evolution.
Because human development occurred in tribal societies where survival was dependent on those around us, humans are hardwired to respond to social triggers in ways that are almost impossible to resist.
Focusmate Behavioral Triggers
This human model has been applied successfully in the fitness industry by Peloton, a Series F startup with a $4Bn valuation. Peloton offers group fitness classes that participants join remotely, to boost their motivation and accountability.
Focusmate is applying this powerful and proven model to productivity.
Daily Active Users Growing 20% Per Month
Monthly Active Users Growing 17% Per Month
Monthly Bookings Growing 17% Per Month
Our pilot focused on the $1T freelancer economy, forecast to include 50% of the U.S. workforce by 2020. But that's just the beginning.
Freelancers. Forecast to include 50% of the U.S. workforce by 2020, freelance workers suffer from a lack of accountability and heightened at-home distractions, driving procrastination and income insecurity.
Remote workers. With 3 in 4 computer workers already working remotely at least 1 day per week, enterprise companies will use Focusmate's planned private channels to keep employees connected and productive while working from home.
We're preparing for an enterprise pilot with a global consulting firm in early 2019.
Online education. Online universities, MOOC providers and independent educators face a dire course completion rate of just 5-7%. These institutions will turn to Focusmate to help adult learners succeed through private study groups and office hours.
We're in talks with a leading publisher and a top expert on "learning to learn" to do education pilots in 2019.
Corporate training. As companies look for ways to engage employees and stay competitive, spending on corporate training is rising fast. Focusmate will help transform isolating online training into a "online study hall" with their colleagues.
Our strong word-of-mouth creates a path to growth with low acquisition costs.
Our marketing strategy focuses on 5 pillars:
Focusmate is pre-revenue, and will monetize in 2019 through a freemium subscription model. Here is an illustrative set of user plans:
After I left my corporate job, I spent several years struggling to build a life that allowed me the creative freedom to realize my potential, while still paying my bills.
I worked as a freelance writer and tutor, started a business, and pursued numerous side hustles before eventually establishing myself as a professional coach for entrepreneurs, growth company executives, and Fortune 100 managers.
Along the way, I tried everything I could find that promised to boost my productivity, and to stop myself from procrastinating and wasting time.
I found productivity apps that helped me organize my to-do list, stay off social media, and manage my calendar.
I also developed my own systems to set long-term goals, to plan my weeks more strategically, and to stick to a strong morning routine.
After helping my coaching clients implement some of these tools, I realized that today’s digital workers need a solution for procrastination that didn’t exist:
A community to connect with like-minded individuals committed to holding each other accountable, hour by hour, for actually doing the actions contained in those todo lists, productivity tools, and goal trackers.
I created Focusmate to help independent workers break free of the shame and anxiety caused by chronic procrastination, and to enjoy the same benefits of accountability as clients paying thousands of dollars for coaching.
Author of "Hooked: How to Build
Managing Partner, CoVenture
This crowdfunding campaign is the final piece of a capital plan that enables us to invest in product development and business growth.
The key milestones we plan to achieve in the next 18 months include:
The smallest investment amount that Focusmate is accepting.
Focusmate needs to reach their minimum funding goal before
the deadline. If they don’t, all investments will be refunded.
The Crowd SAFE is an agreement for future equity in the startup,
meaning that it can convert to equity in the future.
The Crowd SAFE is an agreement for future equity in the startup, meaning that it can convert to equity in the future.
$25,000 – $1,070,000
Focusmate needs to raise
before the deadline. The maximum amount Focusmate is willing
to raise is $1.07M.
Let’s take a hypothetical scenario. Imagine you invest $5,500 in the crowdfunding campaign. Because of the $5.5mm valuation cap, your investment translates roughly to 0.1% of the company. If the company sells for $100mm, that share will return $100,000, or roughly 18 times your investment. You can modify the sale price to generate different levels of return. Please be advised, startup investing is risky, and there are multiple scenarios in which an investment will have little or no return.
As long as we see potential to fulfil our mission of building products that unlock human achievement, we aim to execute on that potential. Our belief is that Focusmate can be a multi-billion dollar business, serving over 100 million people across the consumer productivity, business productivity, corporate training, and online education markets, and potentially others as well, including fitness and crafts.
Yes, we plan to create an exit opportunity for our investors, either through an acquisition or an IPO (initial public offering).
While it is technically possible that we don’t get acquired or do an IPO, our intention is to honor our commitment to provide our investors with an exit.
As for me (Taylor), human potential has been my career-long passion, and the thread running through everything I do. In a way, my entire career has prepared me to build this company. The years I spent as an executive coach, working with both startups and big institutions like Yale, Wharton, and Cornell, has given me a deep understanding of what real people struggle with and how to change their behavior to help them get results. Our team is exceptional. Our CTO Mike Galanos is an exceptional critical thinker and a world-class engineer that's built products used by over 100 million people. And we count among our investors and advisors one Nir Eyal, a behavioral designer considered by many to be the world's top expert on building habit-forming products.
A big industry is a sign of a big problem. Productivity (and procrastination) reflects one of the most universal problems facing humanity. Focusmate is taking a dramatically different approach to this problem, providing a solution that is both much easier and much more effective than anything else available. We do this by asking one question: What would it take to guarantee someone shows up and does their work? From that premise, we are confident that we can offer the best productivity products and services on the market.
Meet the Drapers Season 2 Episode 3
Taylor: Hi, I'm Taylor, founder of Focusmate. I was talking to one of my clients, Jake. He called me up because he had an investor presentation just a couple weeks away, and he was way behind. I worked as an executive coach, and I got to see this huge array of things that even really high performers struggle with, including just procrastination and not following through. But he actually asked me, "Would you be willing to call me a couple times a day, or text me to check up on me?" I couldn't do that. The first time I was working remotely, I struggled to do anything before noon. But I said, "You know what, I have been putting off this blog post for months. Why don't we just get on Skype together tomorrow, and I'll sit there with you. I'll write my blog post, you'll work on your investor presentation." Both of us just got in the zone right away, we were dialed in for two hours. Just even the end of that first interaction, it was really clear theo both of us that we had stumbled on something that was just incredibly effective, and that other people could find value in as well. We are changing the world. We're helping unlock human potential, and I really believe that if you can unlock a person's potential, that has untold impact, and being to reach hundreds of millions of people.
Tim Draper: Welcome to Meet the Drapers. Give us your pitch.
Taylor: I am Taylor, founder of Focusmate. Simply put, we're productivity software. But really what we're building is the digital workplace. Let's take a step back and talk about two scary mega trends underlying our business. Number one, we're distracted. As soon as we're off camera, all of us will probably reach for our phones. And number two, we're working alone. Nearly one in three workers are now predominately remote, which means we're losing the things that the office used to provide. The accountability of having to show up, the brain chemical that we get from human connection, it's called oxytocin, we literally need it to survive and we're not getting enough. These are the problems that Focusmate solves.
Taylor: We've carefully crafted an interaction where you and another user sits side by side, remotely, over a video call, and you each do your work. 96% of our users say Focusmate improves their productivity at least 50%. Now imagine if each of us were 50% more productive. Imagine the impact that would have on your life, on your companies, and on the world. Thank you.
Polly Draper: Would that be someone who's in your field?
Taylor: It's almost like a study buddy on demand. We've created a community of people who are interested in being held accountable, and we've standardized the protocol. 50 minute appointment, when you show up, you each commit to what you're working on, you write it down, and then you get to work.
Tim Draper: They could just do this by Skype if they wanted, right?
Taylor: They could. And in fact, some of our users, that's how we found them. They were DIYing it, right? They were on Reddit finding accountability partners, Facebook groups trying to find this stuff.
Tim Draper: And you think it's gonna bubble up that way, you don't think that you need to sell to the corporations and have them go top down and say, "You guys are all remote, here's how you're gonna work with each other."
Taylor: Yeah. We actually see several huge markets for this, and one of them is B to B. And if any of you guys are involved in EdTech or Future of Education, right? The big problem in that space is nobody finishes the courses. We're able to solve that problem as well.
Tim Draper: So you're gonna do both? You're gonna do top down, and you're gonna do this bubbling up thing?
Taylor: So, we're confident that we can hit the consumer productivity market, the B to B productivity, online education, even corporate training. We need to do some pilots.
Tim Draper: Are you gonna keep the sound on all the time, or are you gonna have a knock knock?
Polly Draper: That was the [crosstalk 00:20:29] like ... can you walk us through what would happen? You're sitting down at your computer, and someone's face is right there in the corner while you're doing your work?
Taylor: Yeah, let me show you guys how it works.
Tim Draper: Sure.
Sonny Singh: Yeah, I'm not often speechless. This is the first time I'm actually speechless trying to figure out ...
Polly Draper: Yeah, yeah.
Sonny Singh: [inaudible 00:20:45] yeah.
Tim Draper: Oh I do it all the time, so this is easy for me.
Taylor: Yeah, let's say you're on your laptop, right?
Tim Draper: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Taylor: Then you're writing a blog post, right? So here you are, most of your computer is what you're working on, but you also have this accountability partner who's there with you.
Polly Draper: And you're saying things like, "Do you think I should write such and such?" And the guy goes, "I don't know, I think you shouldn't."
Bill Draper: Is that right?
Polly Draper: Or is there any interaction about the actual work?
Taylor: A way to imagine it, sometimes when you run you get a friend to go with you. And you know what, you might be chatting, you might not, but you're not talking about the running.
Polly Draper: Right.
Taylor: You get the running buddy because you know what, if it's raining, you can't just stay in bed, you've committed. We're different when we're around-
Sonny Singh: Do you have a background in psychology, or what's your background?
Taylor: Yeah, so actually my background is executive coaching. And the interesting thing about my coaching practice, it's mostly high performer. And yet, what I've found is still a lot of these people really struggle to just follow through on their commitments and the stuff that they really wanna do.
Bill Draper: But just to back up a minute, I would go to my computer because I have some work to do. I would not like that guy looking at me all the time.
Polly Draper: That's kind of how I-
Bill Draper: I would make me really uncomfortable.
Tim Draper: Yeah, but what if it were Pitch Johnson?
Bill Draper: One of the most delightful experiences that I had in venture capital was working with this extremely good man, and great manager.
Bill Draper: I wouldn't want him.
Tim Draper: Really?
Bill Draper: No way. I think most people would just like to settle in on their computer, go at their own speed, not have somebody looking at them.
Tim Draper: I could easily see doing this with Frank Fu, no problem. We would have, as long as he keep his head down. I'm more worried about the screen space, that's pretty valuable. I have to go to Word, go to Excel, go to my email, go that-
Bill Draper: But that's all on one side.
Tim Draper: To make something happen.
Bill Draper: Instead of all in the way.
Taylor: I wanna hit on Bill's point about do you really wanna do this? People go to coworking spaces, not because somebody is standing over them with a you know, going like this saying, "You should work." But we kind of know, I have to get dressed in the morning, and I have to look presentable, and I have to do something when I'm at the coworking space. So we're already doing this behavior in the real world, and this is just a simple adaptation of that in a digital environment.
Tim Draper: Who's writing the code for this?
Taylor: My CTO Mike. Mike has 17 years of software engineering experience. Early in his career, he was a key contributor to the Razr, Surface 3 before getting into starting plan.
Tim Draper: Who's paying?
Taylor: We've made an offer to 127 users, and we've converted 65 of those to customers. If you have a channel for your company, if you wanna have an unlimited number of people in your tribe, those start to be premium features.
Tim Draper: Is the product out there, can I-
Taylor: The product's out there, yep. Focusmate.com
Tim Draper: Oh, terrific. How many users do you have?
Taylor: About 220 daily, active users. About 1,200 monthly active users, that's about a 20% ratio.
Tim Draper: They should be coming back more than that. Either they're into it, or they're not.
Taylor: That's exactly what we found, actually. The top 20% of our users, they're booking an average of 11, 50 minute appointments a week, which is about nine hours on the site.
Tim Draper: Well, this is terrific.
Polly Draper: Interesting.
Tim Draper: Well, thank you. Thanks so much for coming in to Meet the Drapers.
Taylor: Thank you guys very much. Great, thanks a lot.
Bill Draper: All right, good luck.
Taylor: Going toe to toe with a powerhouse family with all of them there, it was definitely surprising how much energy I needed to bring to own the space. Everyone's got something to say at once, there's a lot more than I felt I could share. One of the things that's tricky about our product is it either instantly clicks for people, or it doesn't. And so when I go into an environment like this, I count on having a couple of people who are just, "Oh, yeah, that makes total sense," or, "I've done something like that." I definitely appreciated Tim coming out and saying, you know, explaining and saying, "I get it. I would definitely see myself doing this." So I'm definitely grateful that I had a couple people that got it, but it's always a challenge. My belief is that if we could all do our best work, there's really no problem in the world that we couldn't solve. And that's my personal mission, that's my goal with Focusmate. If that resonates you, I'd love to invite you to invest in Focusmate.
Tim Draper: So let's see what the judges think about Focusmate. Sonny, why don't you start?
Sonny Singh: I mean, the 12 year old, I got what he was doing. This one I didn't quite get my arms around it, that some guy is gonna be sitting on a window coaching me what to say, or not coaching me. It's similar to EdTech though, which is getting pretty popular where you have Serena Williams coach you for an hour on tennis or something like that, so I can see where it's going.
Bill Draper: Yeah, I think it's a little different from that. I think his idea is that you just find somebody, maybe a girlfriend, could study with. Hate the idea, to be honest with you.
Sonny Singh: Yeah.
Bill Draper: But I don't have a girlfriend at the moment.
Tim Draper: He's available, girls.
Polly Draper: I think it's very random who your choice is that you're studying with. I can totally see this in a high school way, even in a college way, even in graduate school way. For me, I'm with you. Sometimes I have to go to a hotel room just to focus myself. So the idea of focusing because of someone else, it's an afima to me. However, that is not the way of the world, now.
Tim Draper: I think that people around the world are now getting so caught up in this world, and the computer world. And if they're at a desk job and they have to program, or they have to just keep their heads down and stay at their desk, they get lonely. And if I were a corporate CEO and I knew I had a whole ton of people that were kind of getting lonely, I would say, "Let's get this thing in here."
Polly Draper: If I were a corporate guy, I would use it as a way of monitoring my workers.
Tim Draper: And I think online education, 93% of the people who start these courses drop them. If there was somebody on the other side kind of watching and going, "Hey, I see you there, you're doing it." That might actually make a difference.
Bill Draper: Difference in our opinions indicate that there are some people that would like that.
Tim Draper: Let's go to ...
Polly Draper: The crystal ball.
Tim Draper: The crystal ball.
Bill Draper: The crystal ball.
Polly Draper: That's gonna decide us, you're right.
Tim Draper: Let's see, what do we all think?
Sonny Singh: Help me focus here.
Tim Draper: Okay, are we ready?
Polly Draper: Yeah.
Tim Draper: Okay. Now we're the judges of this show, but you, the audience, is also a judge of the show, and know that you can go to meetthedrapers.com and you can invest in Focusmate. So, thumbs up, thumbs down, thumbs all around. Where are we going? Two down, and one and three quarters up. Having some down and some up is usually a good sign for these companies. So, let's go on to our next guest. And before we do, let's see what's going on behind the curtain.
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