I’m always trying new things and measuring the results. It’s so clear once you hear it. Whether it’s advertising or testing features, you need to learn and pivot all the time.
Travis Read is the creator of BeforeNow, a timeline creator application that allows users to catalog the moments between the milestones to better document and enhance their personal narratives. The easy-to-use application enables users to track and relive important events and create their unique digitized life story with limitless, customizable categories using pictures, friends, maps, and more. A graduate of University of Central Florida, Travis spent 30 years in the central Florida area before packing it up and moving to Minneapolis. With 10 years of experience developing consumer electronics, Travis created BeforeNow to help users cut through all the noise and visual bombardment of life; and remind ourselves to savor everyday moments.
Where did the idea for BeforeNow come from?
I was making iPhone accessories and traveling a lot for work. Apple for sales meetings, China for manufacturing, Colleges to guest lecture. It made me think about how unique my journey through life is. I wanted a way to document my experiences but couldn’t find the type of software that I wanted.
I didn’t want a Daily journal or a scrapbook. I wanted something that could show a lot of the events on a single timeline. I had designed interfaces before, so i just started drawing something up on the computer. I thought about the hundreds of different things that change our lives, and tried to give the user the framework they need to display the important events to them.
Like fingerprints,no journey through life is the same.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I have a full time job designing consumer products. After a long day of work, I go back to my home office and start back at it.
At night, I’m usually working with the software engineers, responding to users via email or Facebook, talking to investors or designing the next app update.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I went to school for Digital Media. So I can make a website, edit a movie, design a user interface, etc. I do as much as I can before bringing in someone else. That limits my capital spending and helps give the developer a jumping off point for what I’m looking for. I work very closely with my graphic designer and Software developers to execute a great product.
Having a cohesive, thoughtful product is the most important thing to me.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Electric self driving cars and the internet of things.
Imagine the day when you can order groceries on your phone and your car will go to the store to pick them up without you. The buildings will need to be redesigned to have drive throughs with automated fulfillment. You could also work or relax on your drive to work like taking the subway but it will be door to door.
Cars will be able to travel much faster as cars communicate with each other and drive more efficiently on a crowded highway. This will enhance and change everything. Productive people will become more productive, lazy people will become more lazy.
It will be very interesting and a great business opportunity for anyone, not just car makers.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I don’t know if its a habit, but more like a nervous twitch. I can’t go have fun for too long. If I’m out somewhere for more than a couple hours on the weekend, I start to feel guilty about not getting anything done even if it’s a Saturday.
I feel like I need to be productive for 90% of my day, any day of the week.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I worked at a fast food restaurant in high school. It made me realize that I can’t just whine to my parents to get out of sweeping the floors. I had to do it and hurry up to the next thing if I wanted to go home after a long night of closing the store.
I gained an appreciation for hard work and respect for people that work in the service industry.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I concentrated on the iPad version of BeforeNow when starting up, because it had a larger touch screen and would be ideal for viewing all the events in your timeline.
But people don’t actively download apps for iPads like they do on their phones. I would have made the iPhone version for launch to gain more users earlier.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Creating a to do list. It may sound dumb or obvious but I live by them and I have two to-do lists. I have an ongoing to do list and an EOD to do list.
I monitor both several times per day to make sure I stay on track.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Build, Measure, Learn from the Lean Startup. Because of this great book, which I’m sure 9 out of 10 people on this site recommend, I’m always trying new things and measuring the results. It’s so clear once you hear it. Whether it’s advertising or testing features, you need to learn and pivot all the time.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I had a Kickstarter project a couple years ago called Snowmous AccessIO.
A friend and I worked on this project, and it did really well at first but then it didn’t reach our goal.
I learned two things: 1) a marketing strategy is just as important as making a great product and 2) you never really fail. You learn the most from failure. We’re in the process of selling the rights to an established brand.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I used to make iPod Accessories, The investment for developing accessories is low and you just need to find a great market to get into. I’d be making drone accessories right now if I wasn’t so busy.
The drone industry will grow rapidly in the next 10 years, as a toy, prosumer camera, delivery device and the unknown. It’s a great time to start working in that market, establishing a leading brand for accessories before the market matures.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why? (personal or professional)
I bought a Mophie Juice Pack the other day for my iPhone 6.
It’s a necessary device to have when you’re traveling. I get one for every iPhone that I have just in case I need it.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
It’s important to Document random thoughts before they are forgotten. Our memories are becoming more short term than before because of computers that we rely on, or maybe I’m just getting old.
I look at BeforeNow as an extension of these popular platforms.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Creativity by Ed Catmull
It’s an inspiring story of an everyday guy that had a lot of great ideas and worked hard to achieve them. There are a thousand stories out there like this, but I wanted to work at Pixar when I was in College so this is more inline with my interests. It’s nice to read success stories to give you the extra boost you need to get through a rough spot.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
I’m very passionate about movies, specifically Indie Movies. I go to Sundance Film Festival every year for vacation.
It’s very inspiring to hear the directors stories and see what a beautiful product they made without someone holding their hand financially. I remember a couple years ago, there was this movie called ‘Indie Game the movie’.
It was about younger guys making Xbox games without capital, it was very inspiring. I’m pretty sure that’s the moment when I decided to take the plunge.