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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- [spp-timestamp time=”02:30″] What is Reflect and how can you use it?
- [spp-timestamp time=”05:45″] What did Corstiaan do to validate his idea?
- [spp-timestamp time=”06:10″] He first posted Reflect online on Beta List and received a few hundred requests for early access within a few days.
- [spp-timestamp time=”07:15″] What technology does Reflect use between Evernote and the front end?
- [spp-timestamp time=”07:35″] Reflect was developed using Microsoft .NET and is running on Microsoft’s Azure
- [spp-timestamp time=”07:55″] Corstiaan used the micro-framework NancyFx instead of ASP .NET.
- [spp-timestamp time=”08:15″] Corstiaan recommends using a framework that does not get in the way.
- [spp-timestamp time=”08:45″] Evernote .NET libraries are available for the Evernote API.
- [spp-timestamp time=”09:20″] The database runs on Microsoft’s SQL Server.
- [spp-timestamp time=”09:40″] For data access between the web application and the database, Corstiaan uses OrmLite.
- [spp-timestamp time=”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.
- [spp-timestamp time=”10:30″] Corstiaan will consider AngularJS for his next project or possibly a major overhaul of Reflect.
- [spp-timestamp time=”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.
- [spp-timestamp time=”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.
- [spp-timestamp time=”12:25″] He uses .NET mainly because that is what he has the most experience using.
- [spp-timestamp time=”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.
- [spp-timestamp time=”14:35″] AngularJS has a large community, many side projects, and gives you a large toolset for mobile apps.
- [spp-timestamp time=”16:10″] What are his strategies to monetize Reflect as a SaaS product?
- [spp-timestamp time=”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.
- [spp-timestamp time=”19:50″] What kind of problems did Corstiaan run into while developing Reflect?
- [spp-timestamp time=”21:40″] Have there been any unexpected costs along the way?
- [spp-timestamp time=”22:05″] As more users used Reflect, Corstiaan’s bandwidth bill increased.
- [spp-timestamp time=”23:15″] Do you see any problems with scaling on the Azure platform?
- [spp-timestamp time=”25:15″] Is he using any metrics to track usage?
- [spp-timestamp time=”25:30″] He started out with Google Analytics but is working on implementing KISSmetrics.
- [spp-timestamp time=”26:35″] What does your company Fluxmatix Ventures do?
- [spp-timestamp time=”26:50″] Corstiaan shares a bit of his background.
- [spp-timestamp time=”27:05″] Progress in web apps and mobile, in particular, lured Corstiaan back into active software development.
- [spp-timestamp time=”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.
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