Kaamfu is our forthcoming suite of productivity tools that descends from Prospus Universe, a concept I have ideated over two decades building and delivering innovative digital solutions. On my LinkedIn profile I state that my vision is to “humanize software”. And while I spent a decade and over $2.5 million of my own money researching and developing a solution I felt accomplished that, the market did not agree with me. I lamented my loss, but it was the words of my mentor Creel Price one day in San Francisco that helped me stay positive: “Don’t look at it as a $2.5mn loss”, he said. “Look at it as a $2.5mn education”.
He was right. Those ideas didn’t just go away when my startup failed to gain traction. I kept chewing on them, and I began to look deeper, past the various clever tools and technologies I had built. I followed this thinking until I found myself 180-degrees from where I started, looking back at myself and how I had worked to build Prospus Universe. And therein I found the reincarnation of Prospus Universe and my new professional vision: I want to humanize technology-based working relationships.
My time building Prospus Universe was a never-ending work of passion. I wanted to literally rebuild everything from the bottom up. And I had. I redesigned every aspect of the software experience, from initial requirements analysis, through to the database structure, code architecture, UI, and even the business relationship with users. I am very proud of the work I did on that project, and it was not all ideas: we beat out Microsoft and other corporations to build out a sales and deal management system for a billion-dollar publicly-traded American company. We beat out Microsoft and various other vendors. We also released our first product, VesselWise, built on top of the platform. So from the outside, it did appear to be moving forward.
But it was simply unsustainable. My vision to reinvent the way software was conceptualized, produced, and consumed, turned out to be too ambitious. My product hypothesis was so broad it was almost comical. In a word, Prospus Universe was megalomaniacal.
But from the ashes, rose a phoenix. With Kaamfu, I sharpened my focus: I hypothesized that 80-90% of work can be completed with chat and a task list. Why? Because looking back at my experience building hundreds digital products with teams of all sizes, that is either what I used, or what I wanted. I have always hated heavy, form-oriented software tools. Even though products like Asana, Basecamp, and even Slack improved greatly upon the Microsofts, Zohos, and Atlassians, they all required so much up-front investment in time and energy to simply start. With chat and a numbered list in a document, or a kanban tool of some sort, I could handle the vast majority of projects either through a full-screen web or desktop UI, but also through a well-designed mobile app.
Now what about calendars and timelines and resource management and cost tracking? What about sprints and all the product and project management essentials? What about tracking individual and team performance? What about alerts and notifications and success KPIs? Product road-mapping? That is exactly the kind of thinking behind the rise of the do-everything tools we have today. All of them contend that all of these features are of equal importance, when they are not. Where our competitors offer broad prioritization, Kaamfu is all about narrow prioritization. Consequently, there are only two first-class citizen features in Kaamfu: chat, and list management. And as with anything, with effort, creativity, and innovation, we have managed to craft a tool that exceeds, but never injures these two priorities. Within one tap or click, Kaamfu users will reach the tools and information they want 90% of the time, without having to wade through a sea of buttons and information they do not.
Though I build software for a living, I happily admit that I do not actually like it. While I am always looking for better options, and switch when I find them, I loathe learning new applications unless they return some of my time back to me. I find that people who love software often build the most gratuitous and useless interfaces and features because they love it. They often couch their decisions behind supposedly “user-oriented” research peppered with lots of stock photos of people with big toothy smiles using apps. But I do not recall ever seeing delight on an user’s face because of the app. Because that does not happen. Most people do not actually like technology; they like what it can do for them.
The theory behind Kaamfu is not only that the vast majority of work can be completed through chat and lists, but that people do not want to spend any more time using my app than they have to. The most successful software solutions of tomorrow will be built by creators who understand that their customers are not smiling while using their app; they are annoyed, and waiting to curse and uninstall it when it takes two taps instead of one to get the information they want.