Interview with Amir Salihefendic (Todoist)
Todoist an easy to use personal task manager and todo list application.
I interviewed Amir Salihefendic, Todoist founder to find out more. This interview is the forty ninth in a series of DW interviews. Big thank you to Amir for the interview!
How would you describe Todoist in under 50 words?
Todoist helps you get things done and is one of the most powerful productivity tools that’s currently available.
What made you decide to start working on Todoist?
In 2007, when I started Todoist, I was still a student and I had two programming jobs on the side. I had a lot of projects and I needed to manage my work and productivity. I looked at the market and most of the solutions were crappy, so I decided to create my own tool. I didn’t see this as a startup and I didn’t have great ambitions.
When you started Todoist in 2007 you say you didn’t know much about design and mostly cared about functional products that solved problems. Has this changed?
I think I cared about design in 2007, but I just didn’t think much about it. I remember reading a Todoist review from Khoi Vinh (former lead design of New York Times) and I was amazed he thought Todoist’s design was good. In 2007 I just wanted to implement a great task manager and I didn’t think much about how it should look like or what logo it should have.
Today this has changed. I have probably exchanged 8 different designers in the past 6 months in order to find one that matches my vision. I have spent thousands of dollars and lots of energy on this quest. Finally, I found Jorge, a designer from Portugal that’s really talented and we work great together.
I think competition is more fearsome now and differentiation on functionality alone is dangerous. A great example is Apple: they combine great design with great technology. I think Apple’s strategy is the way to go.
You have quite a background in startups! Tell us about Plurk Inc. and Wedoist, and how you got to be where you are now.
I co-founded Plurk in the end of 2007 and we grew it to be one of the top 1000 sites in the world – with millions of users, billions of pageviews and billions of data items. It was an amazing project and I have learnt a lot doing it. This said, my passion has never been in social networks. While working on Plurk I only worked on Todoist in the weekends and nights. In 2011 I returned back to the productivity space and I am currently working fulltime on Todoist and Wedoist.
You participated in Start-Up Chile last year. Tell us what you got out of the experience?
I enjoyed Startup-Chile. I have met a lot of amazing people from all around the world. I now speak Spanish and I have a Chilean girlfriend. Chile is an amazing country and I would recommend anyone to apply for Startup-Chile. While the program isn’t perfect, it’s an amazing experience.
Has Todoist got the feedback and growth you expected since launch?
It’s got a lot more growth than I had expected, especially since most of the development happend in 2007. The feedback has been great and I am very happy to know that we have helped people complete millions of tasks.
This said, the vision is much larger now. I plan to work on this for a long time and I plan to spend a lot of energy on making the world more productive. We only live once and the biggest satisfaction is when you contribute something amazing to the world (that’s at least how I feel).
What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?
Our biggest challenge is growing the company and the team. We have right now 12 people working on Todoist and Wedoist. We work with a virtual team across the world. We have people in US, Chile, Portugal, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Great Britain, Rumania, Turkey and Pakistan. It’s a challenge syncing everything up, but it’s also exciting, because we are not doing things like the other companies and we try to hire the best people from around the world.
What are you most excited about at the moment?
I want to make the world more productive. I wake up each morning and I am excited to work towards this goal.
Finished reading? Check out Todoist!