Tuesday Nov 20, 2012 by Susan Johnston - Contributor, VentureFizz
After spending the past three months at TechStars Boston, Alex Schiff, cofounder and CEO of productivity app Fetchnotes has decided to stay put rather than return to the startup’s roots in Michigan. “You can for sure build a business anywhere,” he says. “Ann Arbor [where Schiff and his team attended University of Michigan] is great but for a young company like ours, having access to these people [in Boston] was really important to us.”
He points to the mentors and classmates he met during TechStars as examples of Boston’s vibrant entrepreneurial community, where discussions on mobile virality and other topics unfold organically. “You are surrounded by extremely high caliber entrepreneurs and that causes you to up your game,” he adds.
Fetchnotes, which uses a Twitter-like interface for to do lists, launched publicly last April and acquired 8,000 users during its first week after several large tech blogs covered the launch. “Over half of our active users use it every single day,” adds Schiff. “That’s engagement you’re really only seeing with sites like Facebook and Twitter.”
Instead of returning to University of Michigan for his senior year of college, Schiff decided to focus on Fetchnotes full-time. When he joined TechStars in August, the app had grown to 19,000 users and now has over 33,000. In addition to streamlined to do lists, Fetchnotes lets users add hashtags and share notes with others.
Schiff says they’re also experimenting with affiliate programs. “We’re really capturing the world’s intentions, and our vision is not just to be the place where you organize that intent but going one step beyond that and actually helping you get things done,” he adds. “When you need to book your trip to Florida, we want to help you get that done, so we show you flight information. When we broker that transaction, we keep a cut of that.”
With TechStars behind them, the Fetchnotes team, which includes four full-timers and several part-timers, is focused on making it easier to share notes with people outside the platform using existing communication channels like email or text message. “Say I need to share something with my wife, I can literally put that on her to do list,” says Schiff. “She can do the same thing if she wants me to take out the trash or check out music. You drop their username in the note and it goes to that person. We want to make it really easy and frictionless for you to use Fetchnotes to communicate with anyone through the channels that people are already using.” Schiff predicts that this would create a new “opportunity for virality.”
Fetchnotes is also in the process of raising $750,000, a third of which is already committed.