Q&A: Dolist Productivity App

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by David Dean Menzies

RALEIGH, N.C. -- A lot of apps are meant to entertain, while others are meant to assist with business functions. But what about an app that learns your habits, location, peak productivity times, deadlines, and rate of completion and then helps you maximize your productivity? Startup TechWire spoke with Scott Wittrock, developer of Dolist -- "Developed with ♥ in Brooklyn, NY and Raleigh, NC" -- to learn more about his interesting new product which saw 2,000 downloads in its first week on the iOS store.

Why did you start Dolist?
I started Dolist because none of the other productivity products on the market actually helped me get anything done. I would use Asana at work, reminders on my phone, and my laptop was covered in sticky notes. I needed a single, central place to store everything I had to get done. After reading an article in Wired titled "It's 2016, Why Can't Anyone Make a Freakin To-Do App" I felt I was up for the challenge.


Where did the idea come from?
The original idea for Dolist was based on the fact there isn't enough time in the day to get everything you want done. I found I had a pattern. I would start using an app, then once it had 20-40 items spread across numerous projects it would become too annoying to manage, and I would revert to a different method. I had no way to quickly know what I should be working on right now. I realized that by asking a simple question "What is more important?" you could quickly compare tasks head to head, and the result would be an organized list with the most important task on top. Since then Dolist has grown to utilize additional data points about your task including the due date, how long a task might take, and what project it is associated with to determine the importance.

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Scott Wittrock
What's the tie-in between Brooklyn and Raleigh?
The idea for Dolist was conceived in Dumbo in downtown Brooklyn. I'd been living in Brooklyn for about 5 years at the time, and was struggling to find a balance between side hustles, a full time job, keeping up with friends, and family. Brooklyn is an amazing city, but I felt I needed more time and resources. When I visited Raleigh in February of 2016, I was really impressed by the startup community I found. That spring and summer I spent a lot of time communing back and forth between Brooklyn and Raleigh before making the move in August. Dolist will always continue to have Brooklyn connections as we continue to grow. There is a lot of great tech talent, and investment opportunities in both places.

What is your background?
I'm originally from Minneapolis, MN where I started my professional career organizing TV and film projects as a producer. This role required precise time managment, balancing conflicting priorities, and leadership skills. I have since moved on to managing web and mobile applications for brands such as Subway, Mars, JPMorgan, and Aetna while working for four global tech companies. I'm also a web developer who knows Javascript, Angular2, Firebase, Ionic2 and Typescript, the languages that Dolist is built upon. I like to give talks on productivity and web development which I have given in both Brooklyn and Raleigh.

Who else is on your team?
Right now our team is very lean. I'm the founder and developer of Dolist. Every line of code has been written by me. For the longest time, I had considered Dolist a Startup of One and wrote about that experience for a Medium post, but recently the team has been growing. I've recruited close friends, and advisors to help out. Since our public launch in January, I've been working with a writer to help with Marketing, PR, and Fundraising efforts. As we grow I hope to bring in a team of data scientists to build additional advanced learning models and a team of developers to speed up the development process.

Startup TechWire 2017 Sponsorships Now AvailableWhat are the main benefits of Dolist?
Dolist tells you what to do right now to be successful. We relieve the burden of thousands of micro-decisions that delay action. Dolist learns how to respond with what's most important.

Dolist solves the issues that even more sophisticated products fail to remedy by learning about user’s habits, location, peak productivity times, deadlines and rate of completion. In Dolist you can add and store tasks, create and assign projects, and define the day and time that certain projects are important. In the Review feature, users pick what task is most important between two tasks at a time. By making many small, reactive decisions one-to-one, across various projects, Dolist makes it possible to accurately give weight to tasks based on what other items are on your list. It’s a task list that understands the full lexicon of your custom environment.

What is the key differentiator from competitors?
Dolist’s biggest innovations are the decision-making algorithm that computes users responses on tasks compared one-to-one to prioritize tasks, and integrations with other products that we use for similar purposes every day. The decision-making algorithm factors in a task’s deadline, the effort required, how it compares to other tasks and the priority to the project it is assigned. Furthermore, Dolist analyzes what time of day tasks are completed and how long that takes them. The app uses this data to calculate a unique focus task upon each Dolist log in.

Building upon the devices and products that help us do work, Dolist works in conjunction with leading tools to increase the success of the marketplace. The user can add tasks to their list by voice via Alexa, be reminded of their focus from Slackbot, or prioritize their tasks from Todoist. In the future, Dolist wants to create location-based reminders. A home address would help to prioritize a personal task, a work location a professional task.

What is your plan for revenue stream?
Currently Dolist is available in the App Store for $5.99, but our goal is to move to a freemium model. This will allow users to download and try out the app for free with no time limit, but if they want to unlock additional features for example integrations, unlimited projects, or additional data points, we would charge a monthly subscription fee. Beyond personal productivity in the future we hope to bring the learning and prioritization brain behind Dolist to the enterprise market to help sales people prioritize leads or developers know what to build.

Do you have any investments?
Alternatively our goal is to focus on generating profit quickly to put back into the business. Currently we are looking at and applying for a number of grant and incubator programs. Over the course of 2017 we are going to look into fundraising only if it is the right path forward for Dolist.

What are your plans for 2017?
The biggest focus for 2017 is to prove our business model. Our successful public launch in January helped to show Dolist is a product and idea that people are interested in. Our goal now is to build a company around that product so we can continue to develop additional features, refine the learning and prioritization engine, and integrate with additional services.

Startup TechWire | Reporting on business, innovation, and education for America's vibrant startup community | David Menzies | 919-274-6862 | Writer and Public Relations Consultant | Editor StartupTechWire.com | startuptechwire@gmail.com