Reminders are here!

August 7th, 2014

In all my years on Earth, I’ve come to learn that life has a few unavoidable certainties.

1) The Detroit Lions will always find a creative way to disappoint its fans. Always.

2) Taxes.

3) I’m going to forget my Mac adapter when I have an important presentation.

Apparently, I’m not alone, as the #1 feature request Fetchnotes has received since we launched has been reminders. While writing information down increases your ability to recall it, sometimes you need to remember something at a specific time (like the morning of a presentation). Plus, it’s hard to build a habit of checking a new app without anything reminding you to look at it later.

We took a look at other reminder apps, and we found they’re a pretty big pain in the butt to use. They cater to being reminded at specific times like 8:33am, when usually you just need to do something “tomorrow” or “later tonight” or “this weekend.” So, we built reminders to work the way people naturally think about time.

You simply mention a time in your note, and we’ll figure out the rest. If you want to set a reminder manually, just hit the new alarm clock icon in the bar above the keyboard. You can select from some easy shortcuts, or add a specific time like “In 2 minutes” or “8:33am.”

Click here to download the update for the iPhone app, and stay tuned for similar updates on other platforms. As always, if you have any feedback, just say hello!

Alex Schiff is the co-founder and CEO of Fetchnotes. His team insists he needs reminders more than anyone on the planet, but he pleads the fifth.

Now accepting Springpad refugees!

June 4th, 2014

Last week, Springpad (a fellow Bostonian productivity app) confirmed it was closing up shop. Needless to say, their 5 million users weren’t thrilled.

Springpad built a migration tool for Evernote, but we noticed a common theme around the web from their users. Here’s one comment on their blog post.

Christina says:

You should create a fundraiser! Springpad cannot shut down! You guys are 1,000 times better than Evernote. I am absolutely destroyed by this. I tell my friends to download your app all the time. It’s the best in the world.

Evernote isn’t the right tool for everyone, and it’s clear a lot of people are looking for an alternative.

Fear not, Springpadders! We’ve built an import tool to seamlessly migrate your data from Springpad to Fetchnotes. To get started, all you need to do is head over to our migration page at

Fetchnotes is designed to be minimalist and flexible for all sorts of uses, so you’ll find the experience a little bit different. But if you were mainly using Springpad for keeping track of day to day notes, to do lists and other random thoughts, you’ll probably find our simplicity refreshing :)

Have any feedback or need any help? Drop us a line at

Happy 2nd birthday to Fetchnotes!

April 16th, 2014

It’s hard to believe it, but Sunday was the two year anniversary of the initial launch of Fetchnotes. It’s been another crazy year, and I want to continue with the tradition of last year’s blog post by showcasing how things have changed.

To start off, here’s a photo of what the Fetchnotes iPhone app looked like on April 13, 2012.

And here’s what it looked like on April 13, 2013.

And here’s what it looked like on April 13, 2014.

On April 13, 2012, we were an army of University of Michigan students pushing our first product to market (the first real product most of us had ever worked on).

On April 13, 2013, we were four full-timers, recently graduated from Techstars Boston. At the same time, we were a bunch of quasi-adults trying to figure out what the heck “real life” means while all of our friends were partying their way through senior year.

By April 13, 2014, we had grown to six full-timers, alongside several part-timers/interns still in school. Moreover, I think some of us are starting to get a handle on this whole “adulthood” thing.

Like I said, adulthood.

It’s mind-blowing to me that it’s actually been 3 years since I first started piecing Fetchnotes together during my sophomore year at Michigan. A lot of people I know “played entrepreneur” in college, but very few actually took the leap when push came to shove. I’m extremely proud, lucky, and grateful to have taken my team this far.

So far, I’ve spent my early 20’s thinking about really hard, interesting problems with really talented people. As long as that holds true, there’s no such thing as failure.

To this year and many more!
Alex Schiff
Co-founder and CEO

Gotta catch ‘em all!

April 1st, 2014

Another quick update from Team Fetchnotes today…you can now catch Pokemon from directly within our iPhone app! Take that Google!

Alright, you caught us. April Fool’s! We had to.

The first part is true, though. We do have another update to our web app today — you can now quickly grab a shareable link to any note!

Often, I’ll find myself instant messaging with someone on my computer and want to point them to a note I have about a topic we’re discussing. Now, I just click the link button along the bottom, and I’m instantly presented with a link I can send them. No need to be a user, or even to know their phone number or email address.

Boom! You can now send that link to anyone you want to have that information, over any channel (IM, email, Twitter, whatever). They’ll see a page like this:

Happy Skepticism Day!

Collaborating with non-users comes to the web app!

March 31st, 2014

Quick update from Fetchnotes HQ — collaborating and sharing with non-users just came to the web app!

This has been on our iPhone app for awhile, but it just went live on web. Just hit the @-sign…

Type any username, email or phone number…

And click enter to confirm. As always you can still just type a username anywhere in a note to share with that person.

That’ll fire off an email or text message with the text of the note, so you don’t have to worry about them having an account to see it.

It works on edits too, so if you ever need to send someone information you already have in a note, this is an easy way to do it!

Autocompletion of tags and contacts comes to the web!

February 24th, 2014

For a while we’ve had autocompletion of hashtags and contacts on our mobile apps, to make it effortless to categorize and share your notes.

Today, I’m proud to share that we’ve brought it over to our web app as well! Simply start typing a hashtag (#) or a contact (@) and we’ll pop open a list of previously used options.

There’s a nice little tweak we’ve added to the experience that’ll make it simple to work with on the web: keyboard shortcuts. Once the autocomplete list has appeared, simply use the arrow keys to navigate, and the enter or tab keys to select and insert into your note. If you want to dismiss the list, hit the escape key.

We’re really proud of having the opportunity to build the little features that make big differences in how Fetchnotes helps you get things done, and we hope you enjoy this one!

#Interview: Keeping track of Reddit co-founder’s 200-stop tour with Michael Pope

February 17th, 2014

Michael Pope is the chief of staff for Alexis Ohanian. Alexis is the co-founder of Reddit and author of “Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made Not Managed.” Michael keeps the wheels spinning for him by helping Alexis with organizing, prioritizing, and scheduling.

1) To start off, tell us a bit about the person you’re working with, the role you have, and how you got involved.

I work with Alexis Ohanian, self proclaimed “start up guy”, co-founder of reddit, and genuinely very nice person. I am his Chief of Staff. I do all the work a personal assistant would do, plus I take meetings on his behalf and generate leads for other business ventures that we might be exploring.

A friend of mine was the assistant to one of his TV agents. During a phone call her assistant realized that Alexis needed a new Chief of Staff and recommended me.

2) Walk us through a day in your life. What are some of the typical things on your to do list?

Everyone morning I wake up I have at least 20-30 emails already waiting for me. Email is pretty much the biggest part of my day. It’s either answering peoples questions, fielding interview/speaking requests and/or scheduling phone calls, Skypes and in person meetings.

3) What are some of the things that Alexis never lets other people handle for him?

He won’t make me pick up his laundry, or other menial tasks like that. If he’s really in a jam, and he wouldn’t be able to get it other wise then he probably would. If he needs someone to call AT&T about his bill or stuff like that he’ll have Fancy Hands do it.

4) What’s the biggest thing on Alexis’ mind right now?

Probably his epic 5 month, 200 stops & 77 university book tour.

5) What are some of the tricks, tips and tools you use regularly to stay on top of things for Alexis? Does it differ from your personal life? Any weird habits or hacks you’d be willing to share?

I’ll usually archive every email after I respond to it. That way I know it’s already taken care of, and I don’t have to worry about it until I get a response. The only time I’ll keep it in is if it’s to Alexis and it’s time sensitive. I need to remember to bump it if I still haven’t heard. I also use Evernote sometimes, but that’s usually only for things that are a month or more away. It definitely differs from my personal life since I don’t generally need organizing in my personal life. I’m a pretty organized person and so is my own life, but when dealing with someone else’s life, the things that work for you don’t always work for them. No hacks really. It’s all trial and error, I made a bunch of folders and stuff in the beginning thinking that it would help keep everything in order, but I learned that I’d rarely use them, or even remember they existed, which could mean that things would be forgotten about. My email is my filing cabinet, and the search bar is way more efficient.

6) Talk to us about what’s it like balancing your own personal day-to-day to do’s, activities, and other things to keep track of with that of Alexis. Do you segment your day into personal/work time? Try to knock things out ad hoc?

A lot of the time my personal to-do’s don’t get done, unless they’re really important. I’m a procrastinator when it comes to errands so even if I wasn’t working for Alexis that would probably still be the same. Even though I work from home I have a pretty strict schedule for when I’m working and when I’m not. I generally only work 9a-7p. I avoid answering emails as much as I can on Saturdays, and will turn on the “do not disturb” function on my phone on Sundays. If there’s an email outside of those times that is a real “the house is on fire!” type emergency I will reply. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait.

7) What’s the strangest thing Alexis has asked you to do? Don’t skimp on the details!

Really nothing that strange that I can think of. I’m paid to keep my mouth shut anyway ;)

8) I’m sure your job is pretty fast-paced. What is your best stress relief technique?

Getting up and walking around has always worked for me. Also for boredom when I worked in an actual office, I would get up and take a lap around all the cubicles. Generally during that walk you can plot out what your next moves are before you actually act. Think of it like a pause button while you give yourself a pep talk.

9) What’s one interesting thing about you that Alexis doesn’t know?

Alexis knows everything interesting about me at this point…

10) When you get off work, what’s the first thing you do?

Pour myself a glass of whiskey.

Geography and productivity — a peek inside Fetchnotes

February 6th, 2014

Since November, Fetchnotes has had a roughly 50% international user base spanning 180 different countries. It’s pretty crazy to think about, since Fetchnotes was hatched by a couple guys in an apartment in Ann Arbor, Michigan!

This week, we decided to scratch some intellectual itches around our users and geography — thanks to some Mixpanel and Excel wizardry, we found some pretty interesting results. Enjoy!

Which country opens Fetchnotes the most (per user per day)?

Taiwan! Followed by Japan, Italy, South Africa and Poland.

Creates the most notes?

Japan! Followed by New Zealand, Turkey, Poland and Australia.

Share the most notes?

Our very own USA! Followed by Malaysia, the United Kingdom, Poland and Canada.

Edits the most notes?

Japan again! Followed by Taiwan, Italy, New Zealand, Poland.

Archives the most notes?

Aaaand Japan again! Followed by China, the United Kingdom, United States, and Netherlands. A lot of people use archive as “complete,” so this is a pretty interesting one to watch.

This is obviously a skewed sample representing only our user base, so we’re not saying the Taiwanese and Japanese are the most productive people on earth. Nonetheless, we wonder what kind of cultural factors might lead them to open our app more!

*Data pulled from our Mixpanel activity in January 2014. Everything is on a per user basis, so it controls for varying numbers of users across nations.

Making it easier to find the tag that you want

January 31st, 2014

Today, we’re introducing a small feature that’ll make finding the categories you use even easier: Tag sorting.

In the upper right of the tag list on the web, you can toggle between alphabetical and numeric (based on number of notes with a particular tag) to sort the list.

See the new feature by checking out the web app.

What Happens Two Years After You Swear At Your Users

January 23rd, 2014

One of the joys about using Timehop is that it elicits such a wide spectrum of emotions. Joy over a positive memory, sadness over a negative one, and self-loathing when I see what kind of idiotic statuses I use to post in high school.

And then there was today’s Timehop, reminding me that we accidentally sent this email to 2,430 people 2 years ago today:

A few weeks later, I wrote a follow-up detailing what transpired called “What Happens When You Swear At Your Users.” That alone got 50K hits, as well as kicked off a fascinating debate on Hacker News.

In the ensuing two years, a lot has happened. We…

  • Publicly launched our product in April 2012 to rave reviews

  • Left the University of Michigan to join the Techstars Boston program, and eventually permanently relocated to Cambridge, MA.

  • Raised money from a fantastic group of angels and venture funds from all around the nation.

  • Grew the full-time team to 6 people (want to be our 7th? My email is below!)

  • We’ve helped over 100,000 people take the stress out of keeping track of information, ranging from the obvious (to do lists, shopping lists, music, etc) to the awesome and weird (great cheeses, random facts, dreams).

  • We’ve learned an unbelievable amount about entrepreneurship, team-building, productivity/collaboration (much of which is only just starting to make its way into the product), and, most importantly, ourselves.

That all said, this incident specifically had a lot of lessons.

1) NEVER try to cover things up.

Admit you screwed up, take responsibility, and hope that your users are as cool as ours. Don’t be a Snapchat.

2) Be authentic.

People don’t want to talk to brands — they want to talk to other human beings. This principle guides ALL of our interactions with users, particularly our emails. They’re quirky because we’re quirky people. Building a product is art, and just like a painting or film it inherits the collective personality of its creators.

3) It’s a small world, and weird stuff makes you memorable.

Since this email was sent out, I’ve met three people in real life that heard about it. The first was a fellow passenger on the Caltrain in San Francisco (we started talking after a schizophrenic assaulted him for thinking he was trying to blow up the train). The second was one of the first people I had a mentor meeting with during Techstars, Mark Kasdorf.

The third was Giles Van Gruisen, who actually was one of the 2,430 people who received that email. Our first-ever correspondence was on that day:

It was a pleasant surprise. From here on out I’ll do the best I can to provide feedback and offer suggestions! I certainly hope you will be able to look back on today’s little hiccup as a minor road bump. As a website designer/developer/founder (especially a young one), I know what it’s like to mess up, and mess up big. But those mistakes, however minor or major, are what grow ourselves and shape our products. I like to look back on them as learning experiences and hopefully you lot can do the same. I wish your team the best for Fetchnotes. May it have a long prosperous life!

Giles became the 5th member of our team in April 2013, on the one year anniversary of our launch.

tl;dr version: Be humble. Be authentic. Be memorable.

Alex Schiff is the co-founder and CEO of Fetchnotes. Hit him up any time at to share thoughts on our product, or if you have any so-bad-they’re-good movies to recommend.