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Handy Gadget TimeFlip Helps You Easily Track How Much Time You Spend On Different Activities

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Below is our recent interview with Pavel Cheshev, CEO at TimeFlip:

Pavel Cheshev

Q: Could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to TimeFlip?

A: TimeFlip is a fun and handy gadget for time tracking. Unlike popular software time tracking tools, TimeFlip is a physical connected device. This provides for a totally different user experience, ease of use and quick adoption. TimeFlip helps to measure how much time you are spending on each activity and visualize your statistics in a proprietary app and web interface. All you need to do is to mark TimeFlip facets with your activities and assign them once in the mobile app. Now you are all set to start tracking!

Q: What type of customer would benefit the most from your product?

A: Our core customers are people already concerned about the cost of their time. For example, they bill hours or need a simple tool to measure time spent on a project, client or process. Independent professionals, freelancers, software developers, designers, consultants, project managers, lawyers – you find them all among our core clients. TimeFlip is not a “big brother watching you” solution. It does not control or force you to do something. On the opposite, it is designed to be a very friendly tool for the people who volunteer to take control of their time and productivity. Besides, TimeFlip naturally network independent, it can store time logs equivalent to about 30-40 days of tracking. So digital nomads can bring it to the beach or mountains or other remote places with no network and it will work there just fine.

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Q: What’s inside TimeFlip?

A: It has a chip inside that works as a spatial orientation sensor and logs the time spent in each position in space (i.e. TimeFlip being placed on each of its facets) and then communicates this data via Bluetooth to the app. It’s pretty simple, but our goal was to make a very compact chip with low energy consumption. Key elements are: high-resolution accelerometer, bluetooth controller and a memory module. The chip is powered by a CR2032 button cell battery, that lasts at least for a half a year and then is very easy to replace.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in launching your product and how did you overcome it?

A: Hardware products are harder to launch than pure digital ones and because of that they are also less appealing for investors, which makes rising money difficult. We have been able to design all electronics and develop basic software with very modest pre-seed investment, but for the most of the project lifetime we’ve been bootstrapping it. Initially we ran a kind of our own small crowdfunding, collecting first pre-orders on the landing page to raise some money and also test the market. We are still immensely thankful to all our first subscribers, without them TimeFlip would not be here today. Hardware product development has a lot of nuances and having a chip ready we were only half way there, as we still needed to solve outer shell production, packaging and logistics issues. One of our team members spent almost all of his working time in Shenzhen area negotiating and instructing local contract manufacturers. To be able to deliver as fast as possible we started with a cardboard version of the device (TimeFlip Craft) that offered 3 different shapes of outer shell made out of cardboard. We even featured totally stripped version that we called DIY (basically just the chip and an instruction manual) and offered our clients downloadable 3D models so they could 3D-print their own TimeFlip cases. It’s a fun idea, but 3D printing is still quite pricy to be used on an industrial scale, so finally we ended up with full cycle production of a foldable plastic shell TimeFlip.

It was also the first experience for us in building a connected device and we experienced some problems developing under Android, where, unlike iOS, there are so many different devices on the market and each vendor and even model vary in how they process bluetooth signal. Eventually, we needed to test on each and every popular Android model.

Q: I see you have an API. What made you take that direction, and what applications have you seen evolve from that offering?

A: Yes, we decided to be very open from day one and we also supply our BLE data transfer protocol for all interested developers that want to build own applications or integrations. We have seen people building applications such as smart light or temperature switcher, so far more of their personal use rather than business. We even supplied TimeFlip to a couple of hackatons. Now we are discussing development of a some commercially-viable applications with other partners but it is too early to talk about yet. We announce it as soon as possible, so please follow our social media channels.

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Q: What are your plans for the future?

A: We will continue to focus on time management and productivity but approaching larger and less sophisticated audience. Our ultimate goal is to do something similar to what fitness trackers did to the world of fitness and sports. Time is as valuable asset as our health and people understand it sooner or later. In this fast-paced world, people get concerned more and more about their time usage and efficiency, influenced by icons like Steve Jobs. We want to give them a user-friendly tool that helps developing right habits and boosting productivity. We will all benefit from that.

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