Corstiaan Hesselink is the creator of the Reflect app, an extension for Evernote. Reflects provides a convenient way for you to reflect on (remember, review, and rethink) all that you have saved in Evernote. Reflect was born because Corstiaan, an avid Kindle reader, wanted a tool to help him review the tagged highlights he had saved in Evernote while reading Kindle books. Unable to find such a tool, he built one and then put it up on Beta List. When Reflect started to attract interest, he knew he was on to something. Corstiaan does a deep dive into the technology of the stack that is Reflect, talks about his plans to monetize Reflect, and discusses how a small app can become a big project.
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- [02:30] What is Reflect and how can you use it?
- [05:45] What did Corstiaan do to validate his idea?
- [06:10] He first posted Reflect online on Beta List and received a few hundred requests for early access within a few days.
- [07:15] What technology does Reflect use between Evernote and the front end?
- [07:35] Reflect was developed using Microsoft .NET and is running on Microsoft’s Azure
- [07:55] Corstiaan used the micro-framework NancyFx instead of ASP .NET.
- [08:15] Corstiaan recommends using a framework that does not get in the way.
- [08:45] Evernote .NET libraries are available for the Evernote API.
- [09:20] The database runs on Microsoft’s SQL Server.
- [09:40] For data access between the web application and the database, Corstiaan uses OrmLite.
- [10:10] On the front end the web app is built using Bootstrap for the CSS framework (customized to match the style of Reflect) combined with Knockout.js.
- [10:30] Corstiaan will consider AngularJS for his next project or possibly a major overhaul of Reflect.
- [10:50] He is currently very close to releasing the iOS app in native code. (Post-production note: Reflect for Evernote for iOS has been released.) There is no HTML5 wrapper. NancyFX comes into play for the mobile app too.
- [11:40] Reflect is currently slightly more than an MVP (minimum viable product), but given his vision for what Reflect can become, Corstiaan considers it to be near an MVP.
- [12:25] He uses .NET mainly because that is what he has the most experience using.
- [13:35] NancyFX allows you to build an application in the way that HTTP actually works rather than having the framework abstract a lot of the details away.
- [14:35] AngularJS has a large community, many side projects, and gives you a large toolset for mobile apps.
- [16:10] What are his strategies to monetize Reflect as a SaaS product?
- [17:40] He wants to create a service that works in the background and allows people to get a more thorough understanding of their data.
- [19:50] What kind of problems did Corstiaan run into while developing Reflect?
- [21:40] Have there been any unexpected costs along the way?
- [22:05] As more users used Reflect, Corstiaan’s bandwidth bill increased.
- [23:15] Do you see any problems with scaling on the Azure platform?
- [25:15] Is he using any metrics to track usage?
- [25:30] He started out with Google Analytics but is working on implementing KISSmetrics.
- [26:35] What does your company Fluxmatix Ventures do?
- [26:50] Corstiaan shares a bit of his background.
- [27:05] Progress in web apps and mobile, in particular, lured Corstiaan back into active software development.
- [29:45] Recommended books: A Technique for Producing Ideas by James Webb Young, and Anti-Fragile: Things That Gain from Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Profit First: A Simple System To Transform Any Business From A Cash-Eating Monster To A Money-Making Machine by Mike Michalowicz
- A Technique for Producing Ideas – book by James Webb Young in which he “examines the creative process and ways to produce ideas.”
- AngularJS – HTML enhanced for web apps (by Google).
- Anti-Fragile: Things That Gain from Disorder – book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb concerning “things that not only gain from chaos but need it in order to survive and flourish.”
- Azure – Microsoft’s cloud platform.
- Beta List – website for “early access to over 100 new internet startups each month.”
- Bootstrap – “HTML, CSS, and JS framework for developing responsive, mobile-first projects on the web.”
- Evernote .NET libraries – .NET libraries for the Evernote API.
- Evernote API – API (Application Programming Interface) for Evernote.
- Fluxmatix Ventures – Corstiaan Hesselink’s company. Corstiaan is the developer of the Reflect app for Evernote.
- Google Analytics – analytics app to “turn customer insights into action for your business.”
- KISSmetrics – SaaS app to gain “key insights and timely interactions to turn visitors into customers.”
- Microsoft .NET – Microsoft development platform.
- NancyFx – “lightweight, low-ceremony, framework for building HTTP based services on .NET and Mono.”
- OrmLite – “lightweight Object Relational Mapping (ORM) Java package providing simple, lightweight functionality for persisting Java objects to SQL databases while avoiding the complexity and overhead of more standard ORM packages.”
- Profit First: A Simple System To Transform Any Business From A Cash-Eating Monster To A Money-Making Machine – book by Mike Michalowicz about an “accounting plug-in that will transform your business from a cash eating monster into a money making machine.”
- Reflect App – app (web and iOS as of last update) by Corstiaan Hesselink to help you review and remember things you have saved in Evernote. SaaS app is planned.
- Reflect for Evernote – iOS version of the Reflect app.
- SQL Server – Microsoft tools to deploy and manage databases.
See the Resources page for a consolidated list of resources from all episodes and more.
*Disclosure: Some of the links on this page may be affiliate links. I may earn a commission if you purchase through these links. These commissions help to cover the cost of producing the podcast. I am affiliated only with companies I know and trust to deliver what you need. In most cases, affiliate links are to products and services I currently use or have used in the past. I would not recommend these resources if I did not sincerely believe that they would help you. I value you as a visitor/customer far more than any small commission I might earn from recommending a product or service. I recommend many more resources with which I am not affiliated than affiliated. In most cases where there is an affiliation, I will note it, but affiliations come and go, and the notes may not keep up.