When we started BusyFlow back in 2011, our idea was to make people more effective by helping them integrate their diverse cloud-based tools into one convenient app. A one stop shop for managing all aspects of a small or medium business. When we started there was barely anyone doing this ‒ the APIs had just started to get stable and more sophisticated, cloud tool providers started realizing the value of giving access to their data to third parties. Traditional project management solutions kept providing their homebrewn tools: calendars, task managers, file sharing, as disrupting new solutions, like Dropbox, Trello, or Google Calendar, were creeping into processes of small companies. If there was a way to make these tools work together, no one knew what it was, and we set out to find it.
Starting as a dashboard with separate calendar, task, file, and message views synced with external services, we soon realized we’re not adding enough value and even start to replicate features of apps that are the best in what they do. We redesigned the app to make it your business news feed ‒ see what has happened as it happened and react to it. Say, if a task was created on Trello, you would see it in your BusyFlow wall and all comments you make there would be automatically synced to Trello, same with task status changes and so on. We later introduced iOS and Android apps based on a similar principle.
A year in the making, we started to get some traction, but there was no explosion. As we did not want to charge our customers until we felt like we add enough value, we had no income. We became an unfunded research project. We went into a bootstrapping mode where four of us would work with external projects to have enough money for basic needs and still to be able to dedicate some time to BusyFlow. This quickly became unsustainable and we felt both physically and emotionally drained. After intense discussions we decided to halt active development of BusyFlow. One of our investors ‒ HardGamma Ventures decided they liked the project so much, they want to maintain it and maybe look for a pivot.
Today we are stepping down from active involvement in BusyFlow and handing it over to HardGamma Ventures. We have agreed that they will maintain the project and possibly come up with an idea for a pivot.
And as for us, it was an exciting ride. We were accepted, we innovated, we made mistakes, all of them gave us important lessons, though, unfortunately, some of those made early, were ones that locked us out. Looking back, the app integration market has recently seen some relative successes ‒ Apple buying Cue as a response to Google Now, Zapier raising a $1.2M seed round, or Hojoki surviving long enough to prove itself sustainable. We are happy to have been an important part of a new paradigm that promotes openness and choice, and one that is yet to see its best.