Episode 2

John Carter - Radio Webflow Template
Mike Jelly
June 8, 2022
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For this week's episode, we interview Mike Jelly. Mike is another founder originally from England, and who splits his time between London and San Francisco. He is the co-founder and CEO of Ethi, a productivity tracker and coach. Ethi helps you context-switch less so you can maximize deep work, and find out how your sleep and exercise habits affect your productivity.

During our chat, Mike and I cover a wide variety of topics, including how to track productivity, how much time context switching is costing us, why you should niche down on your customer focus, and why San Francisco is still the place to be for founders.

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Episode Transcript

Matt: Hello, and welcome to Working on Something New the podcast for and about makers and founders. I'm your host, Matt Johnson and I'm myself a founder and product manager.

Thanks for joining us for another episode where we interview a maker about their journey, their project, and their vision for the future.

Working on Something New is powered by my company. Taskable: unified tasks and calendar for all day productivity. Taskable is productivity software that helps you manage your most valuable resource - your time - by integrating with the tools you already use to bring everything into one place, helping you plan your priorities and time block your calendar. Find us at

For this week's episode, we interviewed Mike Jelly. Mike is another founder originally from England and who splits his time between London and San Francisco. He's the co-founder and CEO of ethi, a productivity tracker and coach.

Ethi the helps you context, which less so you can maximize deep work and find out how your sleep and exercise habits affect your productivity. During our chat, Mike and I cover a wide variety of topics, including how to track productivity, how much time context switching is costing, why should niche down on your customer focus and why San Francisco is still the place to be for founders. Let's dive in.

Thanks Mike. Thanks for coming on and chatting with us. If you could just tell us your name, like what you're working on, what your title is that sort of thing.

Mike Jelly: Yeah. I'm Mike I'm a founder working on a company called Ethi. We're basically a productivity tracker and coach. We help you like context with less, do more deep work and like figure out what drives your productivity from like your sleep and exercise habits as well.

Matt: Cool. And I got to play around with, well, I guess this is, would you still say you're in beta at the moment? Or what sort of stage would you say?

Mike Jelly: We are sort of coming out the end of beta right now. We've got like 30 people using it. And they seem to be retaining and like, you know, retaining long enough that it's not just they're using it cause they're friends, you know? So we want to basically go a bunch of wider. We'll probably be like launching the next couple of weeks and it's a very exciting time. So see how that goes.

Matt: Nice. Yeah. The thing that I was really impressed by, I was just like the design of the product. It was just, it was really a beautiful product to look at. And, and the charts and graphs, it was really, really nice to look at it and fun to use. What was kind of interesting to me it was that you had a desktop app, it seems like something that you would have as a mobile app first. Why did you decide to maybe have it as a desktop app as well? Or what was the thinking.

Mike Jelly: Well, so before we started tracking productivity on like, on your laptops, like tracking what you do on the screen we, we were actually mostly interested in like mental performance. How do you make a person more sharp, more ready to go? Both like focused, energetic, happier, less stressed, like I'm I'm I kind of found like there are no apps that are really tracking that and like helping to pull the strings of causality that, that make you either feel that you feel great and like ready to go fired up, or, you know, sluggish and, you know, struggling to focus. So that was actually our entry point into like this whole field of like, you know, tracking you and, and like what makes you tick? And then what we realized is that like, it's very hard to get a good sense of how energetic and focused somebody is apart from asking them. But if you have to ask them to get that sense, then you kind of rely on somebody kind of doing this tour every day, maybe multiple times a day to track how their happiness, calm energy levels are and we kind of realized like during that process especially as founders, like the thing that we cared most about was like the mental state that leads to us being focused and productive and like crushing it during the day. And so we kind of thought that even though there was this intermediate state of, you know, your actual, like mental state that we were most interested in it was actually output of that state that was most easily tracked and also it's kind of the output that a lot of people, a lot of people make their money by being productive, I guess. So it was kind of a much better, much easier to link to something that like, you know, somebody has some kind of monetary stake in their job when we were tracking productivity as well. So yeah, it's just given us like much richer data to become like a Mac app tracking, you know, what absolutely what websites you're using, categorizing them for you, counting your context switches then that it was just being this like mobile app, which syncs with your health data and where you track your mood.

Matt: Gotcha. And what's like the sort of ideal way that you see users using the product? So they get these insights about context switches, and, and sort of, you know, where they're spending their time. Like, what's the actual insights that people take away from that. And how do they, how do they use that.

Mike Jelly: Yeah. I mean, so there's two fundamental ways people use the products. They either use it to check in on how they're doing and see if they're like, you know, having a good day or they use it to take an action, which will hopefully, you know, help have a better day. In terms of like the insights we, show you how many context switches you're doing we show you how, how many, like per hour, and we show you like your top context switch. So that might be like, you know, very regularly you're switching between coding and Slack. And really we should be trying to do is, you know, batch up yours, your slack for every hour or every half an hour, whatever the cadence that you need to have responded is so you can spend more time in deep book on coding or designing or writing your marketing plan. So that's like one way where, yeah, you kind of, you monitor how you're doing. You know, we've got a little menu bar app, a mini bar, little item, which kind of shows you a productivity score right now. And you can see how it changes. And you know, if it gets red, you know, that you should probably go into the app and like figure out why and what's going on. And then the second way, take an action. We have this focus session, which is. Based on like the Pomodoro timer, it's almost a Pomodoro timer, which has live stats and which changes color based on whether or not you're currently being productive.

So it's blue when you're, you know, calm, productive, like focused. And then if you like go on Reddit or something or Twitter, then the little screen will turn red and say like, ah, okay. So it kind of keeps you accountable. We're planning on like, developing that further to make it like, you know almost like a mini tutorial, how to get into flow right now, if you're like not feeling in flow.

So yeah. That's how we, we use it.

Matt: I think if you ever built some hardware, you could get like a, like a cattle prod that comes out every time I navigate over to Twitter and just like, like no

Mike Jelly: We might just, we might play audio from your laptop and just be like, no, stop it.

Matt: Yeah. like playing men at work or something.

Mike Jelly: We'll RIckroll you when you, when you start getting distracted.

Matt: Yeah, I need that. So it seems like a lot of this is based in some science. Is there some, do you have a scientific background or how did you sort of arrive at these these models for determining productivity? And are you using some academia or science behind how you approached building.

Mike Jelly: Yeah. So we we've kind of looked at. It's more like the composite of many papers that we've read. So we read, we've read the papers on like how your exercise and sleep affects your focus levels. And so when we built, we, we built like a school, which kind of sums up how your sleep, your exercise, your workouts how that is likely to affect your mental state right now.

And those that score was kind of very scientifically based. And then we've got with regards to the kind of productivity school. There's not that much literature out there for like, you know, taking, you know, number of context switches and session lengths that you have when you're sitting down on your laptop and like crafting a score of that. So we've kind of just be in talking with talking with our users and like seeing like where, like what the range is of like how many concerts, which is people do per hour. And then we have looked at papers and how many minutes, so on average, when you, when you context switch, it can take you up to like nine and a half minutes to get back into flow once you've been distracted for like 15 seconds or more. So, yeah. And the app, if you spend more than 15 seconds or something, which is not, you know, in the general category of coding which includes things like stack overflow. So you can kind of go, go make sure that your bug, you can go fix your bug all over the internet and it still counts coding but maybe they can kind of go to you know, to like read a blog and that's like not anything to do with coding for more than 15 seconds, then we can let as a context switch and like the impact of a context switch or your productivity score is kind of based around this like nine and a half minutes of lost time from, you know

Matt: Yeah it's funny cause I mean, we're, we're obviously in a similar space working on Taskable so definitely in the productivity space and when you start to do this research, you realize just how little time at work we're actually doing work. And we have these eight hour days or whatever, 12, 10, whatever, however many hours you're at your desk.

But like how much of that time is actually productive time and how much more, if you can unlock some of these productivity. You know, gains how much more you can get done in a short amount of time. So either you're getting more done in that eight hour period, or you can do your entire job in two, three hours and do something else so it's really, Yeah, it's really interesting. Like, you know this idea that we need to sit at our desk for eight to 10 hours when in reality that so much of that time is wasted on, on, on nothing. And so how do we, how do we actually get you that time back? So it's really, it's really just saying, yeah, a lot of that lots of show we've come across A lot of the same articles, but

Mike Jelly: Yeah. The most surprising, the most surprising thing I found when I, when I started like, actually like when we built the tracker and it was tracking me and I was working during the day and I could see, see how many context switches I was doing. I, I was context switching a lot and I also was not staying sat down at my laptop, working for very long sessions at all.

Like that. My session length was like 10 minutes. So I'd be like, I sit down for 10 minutes. I do some stuff. Then I go to the toilet and I'd come back and I sit down for 10 minutes and be like, oh, I'm a bit thirsty now I'll go get a drink. And then I'd come back. And I worked for another 10 minutes. Then I'd be a bit hungry or somebody would come and come and talk to me.

Whatever I was just fine. Like I only had like two sessions, a day that were longer than like, you know, 25 minutes. Obviously when you're like, just at home alone and you've got a great working environment, like that happens less, you have less distractions. You kind of, you have all of your stuff set up, but when you were like, you know, just at a coworking space or you're working at an office is so easy to spend, like less than 10 minutes at your laptop at any given time. And if it takes nine and a half minutes to get it to flow, you get 30 seconds of flow so, you probably don't even get that because you're kind of context switching while you're at your laptop. And so that's why you have those days where you just get nothing done at all. So now, like I've, I have totally changed my work habits.

I like when I, when I'm going to go and sit down and start a session, I bring water. I bring like, you know, some other kinds of drinks. I have like a little snack nearby and I make sure like I've kind of gone to the loo, you know, I do all of the prepatory things. I mean, I can stay sitting down here for like 90 minutes.

I don't always sit down to 90 minutes, but like I've noticed that some days, yeah. I'm like, whoa. My longest session was like an hour and 40 minutes. I love it. That's just that wouldn't it just be unrealistic before. I kind of like realized like how getting up from my laptop and you know, not, not staying focused on like one thing at a time was like ruining.

Yeah. Like just, just taking me away from like actually being focused and productive.

Matt: And That's really interesting. I've always experimented with like Pomodoro timers and now now time blocking, obviously because we do that. We, you know, we have that feature in Taskable, but, but Yeah.

Like, I think that the biggest, like productivity unlock for me, was when I first discovered the Pomodoro technique and it was like, oh, this is like, if I can just sit down at my desk for twenty-five minutes and work on this thing then I just get so much more done. And actually I came across this article so randomly cause you know, I have a kid. That said you know, when your toddler is having a tough time that you should give them a 17 minute break, because 17 minutes is the amount of time the human brain needs to sort of, you know, to recharge or refresh or whatever.

And then it just mentioned also like the human brain also can really only concentrate on average concentration, like 52 minutes. So like one day I was like, oh, this is interesting. So I changed instead of doing 25 and five on the Pomodoro I did 52 minute work, like sprints and 17 minute breaks. And it was like crazy.

Like, it was like perfect for me. I like it's twenty-five minutes. It's too short. And then at the end of the five minute break, I wasn't ready to go back. And like, I, I changed it to that and it's like 52 minutes heads down work and then 17 minutes. And like, I just, but like, they all like sit down at your desk and just like tune things out and just work as it's that's like the most critical bit and like, it's, it's really cool that you found that from your own product, that it showed you. How, how little time you were sat at your desk, like actually doing work.

Mike Jelly: Does Taskable let you do like 52 minute time blocks then?

Matt: No, we should

Mike Jelly: you definitely do that? Definitely do that.

Matt: 15 minutes 15 minute increments, unfortunately, but it's something like, maybe we should, it's just kind of awkward. Like how do you build that in the UI? I think that's our big challenge

Mike Jelly: would be a very opinionated product if you could only do 52 minutes.

Matt: Yeah. Like no other time blocks are allowed.

Mike Jelly: I was also great as what does 52 and a 17 add up to, I think Elon would be happy with this type of system.

Matt: Yeah.

What is it? It's 50. Yeah. You're making me do math on the spot here, if just a nice, nice, nice. I should figured. Yeah.

It was like an awkward, like time, right? There's like you never have just 69, like minutes.

Mike Jelly: I know

Matt: so I get it. Doesn't always work, but if you got

Mike Jelly: it only works if you have like no zoom meetings scheduled, like the next 90 minutes.

Matt: Exactly. Yeah. You need those 90 minute break so you can get the 69 minutes.

Mike Jelly: Maybe you could do 52 minutes of like individual contributor work, 17 minute break, and then How does that play like 21 minutes of like comms, admin email, like all that kind of like stuff, which is interstitial. And then, you know, that's 90 minutes and then that suddenly now fits into like a, a normal persons Workday instead of, instead of 52 minutes straight.

Matt: Yeah, I was just thinking about a way that we could squeeze like four 20 into that somehow that would really make Elon laugh.

Mike Jelly: 42 42 seconds of of tweeting after your 69 minutes.

Matt: If all I could, I break myself away from Twitter after 42 seconds.

Mike Jelly: Yeah. Yeah. That's true.

Matt: So can you talk a little bit more about your backgrounds? Like you know, w what's your sort of experience, how did you sort of land here working on this particular problem?

Mike Jelly: Yeah. So I, I didn't initially think that I would be coding in life. I thought that I would you know, just I dunno, like come up with be the ideas guy, I thought that that sounded like a great life. You know, you come up with the ideas and you, you find some great, like smart partners who can understand get you and, you know, they can just implement it. But you know regardless of like, just how kind of ridiculous that sounds when, when, like, there are equally smart people who are coding, who are wanting to build their own ideas and they want to live like that fully autonomous possible founders themselves. So why would they need you random ideas guy?

Because of that, like I also. Over time. We realized that like code is the closest thing to like magic, like the literal, like Harry Potter style magic that we have created as a civilization so far, like is the only thing where you can type words. And eventually maybe we have to like save them who knows.

That triggers like reactions in the world. And it actually also can be autonomous actions in the world where I can just send you a bunch of typed words and the computer just can execute them. And you now have this program assist that assist you and does shit for you. And like, it just makes your life easier in so many ways.

The point that I realized that, which was like surprisingly late, I don't know. I must've been like 21 that was when I thought like actually personally wanted to code. I've always been obsessed with technology. Like, since I was like 13, I was reading like wait, but why? I don't, if you've come across Tim Urban online, best blog I've ever read, literally so much of my life, like direction. What I think is important in the world kind of is somewhat dependent on like things that I read in that blog when like 13 years old. But I've always been obsessed with technology, but I just didn't think I'd be building. I thought I'd be like helping to like, you know, figure out what it should do and that sort of stuff.

So I actually studied politics, philosophy and economics university because I was mostly interested in like, how is technology going to shape our world? And like, what can we do as like, as a society it's like, make sure it is amazing and good rather than like, you know, becomes this dystopian young adult novel futures where, you know the AIs are overlords or like, you know, some techno dystopian, whatever.

So I was kinda interested in that. And then after studying politics, economics, I kind of realized that. Like making change through policy is a relentless grind that is very unlikely to succeed and is just a really terrible like lifestyle. Like, it just doesn't sound fun. It's just very slow. It's grinding.

And then, you know, I've always had my eye on startups with. These people are changing, like the whole direction of the future by building this magic, essentially this code, which then runs on everyone's machines or in the cloud or wherever, and just gives everybody like all of these new capabilities that they couldn't have before.

And so that's when I was like, well, maybe I can build something that actually. Like has a positive impact on the world that leverages this magic. And so then I started teaching myself to code. I also have a co-founder Oscar. He is just this incredible, like computer science genius who basically does like all of the more like seriously he's the backend and data science and database kind of engineer.

Cause we have a lot of data and our products of course But I kind of figured like, okay, I'll be like, I'll mold myself as the perfect partner for this like technical wizard and become like the front-end developer designer. And now I can kind of do full stack, like, but mostly Java scripts rather than any like fancy languages.

And yeah, we just kinda started hacking together on stuff and eventually realized that like the thing that. Most interesting about kind of all the data that, you know, that gets collected about people is how you can use it to help a person achieve their goals. And that's kind of where we got to with with like, you know, th this kind of slow, like moving through the idea maze of possible style types that we could do to arrive at a productivity coach.

Matt: So, how did you get guided in that direction? Was it, was it users, cause I remember early versions of Ethi or you're sort of showing people what data got collected on them from social media sites and stuff like that. So, yeah, I remember like early, like, cause we were both in Pioneer and this is great like, you know, people really do want to know this stuff, but like then what do you do with it. So like how did you go from there or even the earlier ideas and how did that sort of, how'd you wind your way now into this.

Mike Jelly: Yeah. So we kind of, the first spark was, you know, we were, we were talking about like we were talking about real world advertising. Cause Oscar had just kind of been to a hackathon and built this kind of hack hackathon product that would basically take a video of like, you know, a subway platform or something and it would automatically just identify demographics of people so that you could advertise to people based on those demographics. And, you know, he, he just built this like prototype and like, I think they like, won the hackathon or something and he came back and we were just talking about it over like a day or two.

And I was just like, man, like do not think this is just like crazy creepy. Like just like, oh, obviously they don't know exactly who you are, but they know that I'm a 25 year old male that I'm dressing the way I'm dressing, you know, like I'm wearing AirPods is that probably means I have, you know, well You know, we, we both were like, yeah, it's pretty creepy but that is kind of what was happening like online. It's like just the demographics are like digital demographics and they're identified not by scanning like a physical, like a video of your body that is identified by like just tracking every single thing that you click and type online. So we kind of got. We kind of thought that was really weird.

Like all of this information is being collected about us. That is not actually being used to kind of help us achieve our goals. And that was actually kind of being used to essentially just like subtly, you know, like, like slide in, in front of us, little pieces of information, little advertisements and like basically build this like infinite addictive feed of content to kind of change our goals as people.

And make them more aligned with how to make these kinds of social media platforms, content platforms, money. And so we've always been interested in like, all this data is clearly very powerful because there's these trillion dollar companies that are built on top of it, but it's currently being used mostly to target ads, which while it's, it's, you know, there are useful things about targeted ads. It doesn't feel to me like they're sort of the ultimate end state of why do we collect data about individuals in the first place? It kind of feels like this is a way for external people to monetize data collected about you, rather than a way for you to kind of use like the amazing data collection and analysis tools that have been built for right now.

To help you achieve the goals you do care about and like to help you live the life that you want to live. And so the first thing we did was we decided we were build something just to analyze the data they'd collected. Just so we could even just ourselves as to like hackers, just like thinking about it and like trying to figure out what, you know, what was interesting about it, just so we can understand it.

So we kind of built like this still prototype dashboard. I, I put my Facebook data in it and it will then spit out and like parse all of it. And it would like do some analytics. Tell me like what companies are sending data to Facebook. Like what Facebook knows about me as a result of that I could see how my Facebook usage has changed over time.

See how, like the kind of sentiment of my messages. Could be used to kind of extract like my mood from them. And then, you know, how that could be used to do advertising and stuff as well. And we just kind of found this like a really, really compelling thing to kind of just look at ourselves and show friends.

And we showed friends and they want it to use it. So we decided we would just kind of. Make this launchable and just kind of launch the world and see, see what happens. We kind of never, w we weren't sure that this was that we didn't have any sense that this was going to be like, you know, the like product that was going to, you know, get to millions of dollars in revenue.

But we thought it was interesting and very cool. And you know, just more people should be able to find out what Facebook knows about them and Google and Twitter. So yeah, we kind of, we kind of built that and we launched it. It did well enough that we actually like spent probably a little too long, still working on it as trying to figure out like, okay, this is interesting.

It's capturing people's minds in some way. Like the idea of like getting this data from these companies and like understanding it So I think we spent like, I don't know, maybe six or eight months, like still just kind of making it better, but just because that'd be like such good kind of interest when we launched on Product Hunt. But what we kind of realized was that you can only really use it once, you know, once you know what Facebook knows about you, unless. Like, you're probably coming to us to learn this because you're thinking of deleting Facebook or you're stopping using Facebook. And certainly once you've used our tool, you're not that likely to continue using Facebook.

So the data isn't going to get any more, like interesting over time. And so we just kind of showed you all the stuff that we know. We actually built something that will help you, like delete the data from Facebook as well. But again, once it's deleted it's deleted. So yeah, it was kinda like this one time Cool a little cool tool.

But it couldn't really be a business. And also it wasn't actually helping people that much. It was kind of a curiosity more than anything. And so that was where we kind of decided, okay. Rather than just building a, sort of nice to have like curiosity that like scratches an itch, basically. I would describe it like that, why don't we try and use all the stuff that we've learned, building this and use all of the, you know, every person that we talked to. And we talked to like hundreds of people who used our tool and we asked them like, you know, what what things do you track? Like what are you interested in tracking?

You know, what, what do you struggle with in life? You know, we were kind of trying to figure out like, w how could any of this data, like, be most kind of useful to people? We kind of landed on like, you know, mental health, mental performance, like this general idea of like, you know, how your mind is cause there's very little else out there other than all this digital trail of, you know, experience that you've like.

That kind of can capture that. So that was how we then got into like the mental, mental statements, performance thing. And then as I explained we kind of realized that rather than manually tracking it the best thing to do would be to basically build a productivity tracker ourselves. And then we can use that to kind of act as a proxy for how, like, how, how good your mind is right now and like help you optimize your productivity.

Matt: Gotcha. Yeah. That's interesting. That's what, like one great thing about Pioneer too, is like, you can kind of come there with something that maybe isn't a business, maybe not a fully formed idea. And then either it's just something that's cool that you built and, you know, people can like check that one time and that's it.

Or like, it kind of turns into something a little bit more, you know, more like a business or more like a product. So it's interesting. It's just a great community to sort of help you help guide you in that direction, if that's where you want to go. Yes, I have a couple more questions. One is, you know, like if you could, like, what's the biggest lesson you think you've learned sort of, you know, working on a startup, working on a product, like what's, what's something that you kind of look back on, you know, maybe a big mistake or, or sort of a valuable lesson that you learned along.

Mike Jelly: Yeah, I think that's the, the thing that is least like really internalized by, by new startup founders is that you really, really should pick your customers. The, the niche or group of people that you wanted to serve. Kind of almost like as soon as possible, I identity. Well, like, you know, before you even started building a product, but if you've already started building a product, like figure out who you actually want to serve, because there is nothing more annoying than when you built a product.

Like we had built this, you know, analyze what Facebook knows about you. And it's kind of like, oh, who's going to use your products. I don't know everyone who uses Facebook. Like I like, how are you supposed to like, learn from like and build for like this specific niche of people and make it really useful for them.

If the it's essentially 2.6 billion people, are the niche that you're targeting. And I think that it's easy as well to kind of fake that you are building for a specific niche and, you know, just say, Hey, it's going to be like 25 to 30 year olds who use Facebook. But I think the best thing to do is to, is to basically either pick whichever niche that you identify with the most and say, what are these people struggling with?

And then try and find like a product that you can build or a problem you can solve for them. Or, you know all finds like an niche that you really, really care about. And like, if you could make their lives better, even like a hundred of their lives better, you would have actually done something great.

And that you can be really proud of because that, that will like weather you through like any storm and you will just learn about what you should be building and how, how you can make it better, so much faster. If you can actually, like if you know people that you can talk to and point out that is a person who I am building this product for and then you can kind of go get there, get there.

Yeah. Talk to them basically.

Matt: Yeah.

I think that, that was like the hardest, I mean, not to speak for everybody, but like, I feel like this is one of the hardest things founders have to face. I want to build a product for 2.6 billion people. But if you try to build a product for 2.6 billion people, you're not going to build a product for anybody.

People build a product for like 10 people. Then you can think about building a product for 20 people, then 40 people. And I think the same thing that we've learned to. Yeah, We have like a Slack group with some of our power users. And, you know, we think of like a feature, like we're building this feature for, you know, Joe or Susie or whatever.

Like we can like say who that person is. And we can, we know so much about them that we can say, like, I know, this is the problem they have and, it just makes it so much easier to sort of visualize that person and have someone in mind when you're building, rather than like, I'm building this for my grandma and my best friend, like it was like, there's very little overlap between those two, but it's so hard to let that go. Even like on our, on our landing page, like narrowing down, like who our target audience is. I I've struggled to do that because it's like, well, if you're not like, maybe you do want to use a product like that, but at the same time, it's like, it's just really, it's really hard.

I find, I

Mike Jelly: How do you think about doing with it? Like do you, have you, have you come to like, you know a pithy description of who, who Taskable is for.

Matt: Yeah.

So what's interesting for us is that it was always about the person's role or the know what type of company are they founders, they freelancers. Are they makers? Are they, are they in a startup? Like what sort of role do they have? But something that we're learning is it's not just about, it's not necessarily even about that.

It's about what type of person are they? Are they someone who timeblocks? Like, so obviously if someone's the time blocks, that's like a no-brainer, but is this someone that actually, you know, cares about how they're spending their time? You know, obviously that overlaps highly with the founder because the founder, you know, by definition has to like be, you know, they're not, there's just not clocking in and clocking out.

So there is a lot of overlap there, but, but rather than thinking about it, like, oh, we're, we're targeting this at founders or freelancers. It's like, we're talking about people who, you know, first time block. And like, if you time block, then this is the right product for you. But if you If you're just someone that cares about time management and then specifically those people that, you know, tend to, you know, work in startups because they can make quicker decisions.

And they, you know, we integrate with the tools area. So, yeah we were initially really focused on the role, but now, but then we thought, okay, well really we should be focused on. You know, a bit more about that person specifically, what is their motivation and are they, do they want to be efficient with their time?

So like that, that was sort of the journey we went on with that, but it's hard. I think it's really hard to narrow down on that. Both just the personal, like saying like certain people, this, product's not for you. It's like, it's really hard to say that, but also, but also just then to like have the conviction to like say this is who we're building the product for and just focus on them.

Like it's really, I think really hard to make that decision and stick to it.

Mike Jelly: How do you think about education of like, you know, helping users who actually would be. Like time-blocking is the right thing to solve their problems, but they are not time blocking now. And maybe they've even tried it before and they didn't like it for whatever reason. Do you think that like, it's worth your time at this stage?

Like, like building a little trail of breadcrumbs to follow, to end up like using it and becoming like power users, or do you think that the market's big enough there's enough people out there who are time-blocking and not using right now that you're just gonna focus on them and, you know, we can educate people later.

Matt: Yeah. So we do spend a lot of time educating people. So we do a lot of content and blog posts, and we want to do more. I mean, even, you know, part of it isn't doing this podcast is to. You know, it's not like we're, we're not here to just talk about Taskable obviously, but Yeah.

just the more people that are aware of it as a, as a productivity technique and, and you know, if we can grow that market, then we can grow, then we're growing the audience for Taskable.

So, so I do, you know, it's, you know, we, we're not huge yet, we're not getting, you know, millions of views on our blog posts, but it is something, you know, if I'm in a conversation on twitter or in Reddit and someone asks, what time blocking is, I can say, oh, we have, I wrote this guide on how to do it. Or, you know, like, oh, if someone's like, how should I, you know, how should I manage my time most efficiently?

Like we have articles geared towards, towards that. And it's, you know, it's education first. And obviously we want them to use Taskable, but, but also is educating them the system around Taskable and system, and just general productivity tips, and even other productivity systems that they could implement, maybe not be supported by Taskable.

The more we grow that audience the better for us. But yeah, but there is enough people out there that are doing it already, that, that we can, if we can, if we get a hundred percent of those then we're doing really well.

But the, the more it grows the better, obviously. So Yeah.

Cool. Last question for you You are, you're obviously not from San Francisco. You're from, from England, I think just outside London

Mike Jelly: how could you tell?

Matt: But you're spending a lot of time there. A lot of if you, if you're, if you're not using Ethi and you're spending too much time on Twitter, you might seen that, that San Francisco is dead.

And everyone's dancing on the ashes of, a once great city, but you're still spending time there. So like, what's, what's your take on it? Why, why spend time in San Francisco? Yeah. what's, what's the reasoning behind that, ?

Mike Jelly: I basically think that even with, you know, the sort of trend that the pandemic kind of initiated and continued and, you know, all the like San Francisco has issues, even with all of that, I would still say that there are like, it's pretty 5x, maybe 10x, like a bigger of a tech scene, you know, of like founded like number of founders.

And it's also just very like, openly like, like networks together. Whereas I think TAC in lots of other cities is like, not very densely connected with like other, other tech people, because there's always, they just have lots of other kinds of people as well. Which. Like it means that like you're friends with artists and like, there were amazing things about that.

But if you want to go somewhere where, you know, essentially you will meet a lot of people who are building like crazy, interesting, cool stuff, ambitious stuff that, you know, in five, 10 years might be impacting the world in a really positive way. Or sometimes, sometimes not for mostly, mostly positive.

I don't think there's a better place in the world than San Francisco.

There are issues. There are issues. Nobody who's walked down through the Tenderloin will deny that there are issues. But yeah, ultimately the network effect is still alive and kicking. If you come here, like I did I came here for two months, October to December last year.

And by the end of those two months, I met like dozens of other founders who are now like, like very good friends of mine. I'm living in a house which has like 10 other founders in it. And I go every day to like, you know, a space where there's another, like, I don't know, 15 founders. And they're all like, really interesting, they're on my level, just, you know, we get, we get it, we get each other. We, we share so many of the same struggles and experiences. If you want that. I think it's pretty hard to get in a lot of the other major cities you've got, you've got to really go looking and you've got to find that you can't just kind of stroll into the city.

And then two months later, you know, suddenly like ended up with all these amazing friends building amazing things. So yeah, I also just think, you know, obviously, like I personally think the weather is great. It's not too hot. It's not too cold. It's sunny most days.

Matt: We'll coming from yes. It's

Mike Jelly: Coming from England, yeah!

From LA, you know, you might say it's cold, but I think LA is too hot, so

Matt: Yeah. I agree.

Mike Jelly: And yeah, no, I just think it's really friendly. Like the tech scene is very friendly, here, founders, all the, in my opinion, very interesting characters to get to know there's a lot of them here. And I just, yeah, I enjoy it a lot.

Matt: Yeah. I, I just spent a month in San Francisco with the Pioneer summit and.

Mike Jelly: Nice.

Matt: It was just, yeah. As I lived in San Francisco for a bit, and I lived in the bay area for, you know, five years. And Yeah. it's, I love the city. I mean, I, I, you know, my mom grew up there, so I spent a lot of time up there as a kid, and this is a great, great place.

And it was, it was fun to be back. And there's like an energy there that you just don't get anywhere else. And what I found really is it's a lot of younger people like yourself who can now afford to live in the city that are still, that still want to be there. So I think, you know, the kids, the kids are, kids are still showing up there.

And so I, I think the. The it's, it's definitely not dead. I think if you want to, if you really want that energy, there is nowhere else. Like it, no matter how much people want, I'm trying to say Miami or Austin. Like if you think it's too hot in LA man, if you don't go to Austin.

Mike Jelly: Oh yeah,

Matt: yeah, so don't live there because I I'm a mountain person, but but if I were to live in any city,

Mike Jelly: That's a mountain.

Matt: Yeah. Yeah.

you have to, you have to have a beard if you're going to live up here. It's, it's, it's the law. But Yeah.

I do. If I do really love getting down there, so, and hopefully I'll get down there before before you head back to London, we can, we can grab another pint. Yeah, Cool. well, awesome man. Thank you very much for taking time to chat.

How can people find what you're working on? How can people find you on Twitter? What's, what's all your, your handles

Mike Jelly: well, my deets so I am Michael Jelly, jelly like jello, but with the Y, that's for you Americans out there. I'm @michaeljelly on Twitter. And my company is called Ethi that's E T H I, @getethi on Twitter on the interwebs. And yeah, just a, you can email me I'm if you're interested in chatting or DM me on Twitter I think I have my DMs open. Yeah, serendipity.

Matt: Well, you have a, you have a little time before this goes so make sure they're open.

Mike Jelly: They are.

Matt: Cool. Well, Yeah. thanks again. And it was good chatting and we'll catch you soon.

Mike Jelly: Yeah. Great to chat.

So that's it for this week's episode. Special. Thanks to Chris for joining us. If you enjoyed the episode, please be sure to give us a follow or review on your favorite podcasting app. You can also follow me on Twitter @mattcrail or @wosnpod. You can find all the episodes of the podcast at

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Matthew Johnson
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Matt is the co-founder and CEO of Taskable, and an internet tinkerer.

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