Saying goodbye to TaskShot

Shane Labs April 17, 2014 13

This post is bittersweet.

I’m sad because I’m retiring one of my side projects. But I’m happy because I’m closing a chapter, and going to be able to focus more on something with more potential.

I started TaskShot back in 2011 (wow, has it already been almost 3 years?!). At my full time job we were having a hard time organizing and keeping tracking of new tasks. We tried other task management systems, but they were either too simple (just a todo list), or too complex (had due dates, uploads, calendars, etc). Where I work we basically have a list of tasks and we prioritize them as we work through them, constantly adding more. There typically aren’t due dates, just an order of what’s most important. We needed a way to have tasks sorted in priority by person, and by project. After trying a million project management systems that didn’t work that way, I decided to make my own.

TaskShot Screenshot

Screenshot of the TaskShot task management system

TaskShot worked great for me, and I thought why not open it up to others? The plan was to give it out to people for free, and once there was enough demand, then start charging new members for it. I figured if I got 100 members, paying $9/month, that’s an easy $900/month. Looking back on it, that sounds overly optimistic, and ignorant.

I did have people interested in it – over the course of its lifetime I got around 50 signups, but only about 3 accounts used it regularly. Those accounts had some requests at first, and I manually dealt with them since TaskShot was pretty much a minimum viable product. It never reached the use I was hoping for in order for me to make it into a more polished version.

Why did I decide to retire it?

Was it requiring too much of my time to maintain? No. Was the support too high? Nope. Were costs getting too expensive? No.

But I realized that there’s no way I can compete with all the other project management systems out there. I picked a horizontal market, not a vertical market, and there’s too much competition. I realize I could narrow down focus and make it for a niche, but I simply don’t have the drive to keep this going. My heart’s not in it. I’m not passionate about it. Plus, since I created it Trello has launched, and it seems like a great product.

I am passionate about my other side projects. And with the advice from my latest business gathering, it’s obvious I need to clear my plate and focus on one project at a time.

Many of you who follow me know that right now I’m focusing 100% on AmpedSense, a premium wordpress plugin to help you optimize your adsense ads. It’s got potential, and I’m forcing myself to really focus on it. Retiring TaskShot is a way to avoid other distractions.

The sad part

The sad part is I feel like I’m losing a friend. I built TaskShot with my own blood, sweat, and tears (okay, I never cried about it so no tears). But it’s something I love and am proud of.

It’s also tough because since breaking the news to our current set of 3 customers, I’ve received very positive feedback:

 

TaskShot Feedback

Awww, this bums me out

Ugh, that crushes me as a developer to hear that they loved my software, and I’m taking it away from them.

But I also need to be strong, and realize that they’ll do fine without me and TaskShot, and we’re all onto bigger and better things.

Moving on

So, I’ve simply decided to not support TaskShot anymore. I’ve disabled creating new accounts, and when the domain expires in July, I just simply won’t renew it. It’ll instead go into the closet of retired side projects, along with many others.

I’m moving on to AmpedSense. I’ve got a killer product ready, and am passionate about it. Now I just need to get the marketing down (more on that to come in a future post).

Why does it still feel like I’m letting myself and others down? How do you feel when you shut down a side project?

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13 Comments »

  1. Ben April 17, 2014 at 8:45 am - Reply

    Letting it go is alright if that works best for you. Your users are concerned, but as you said, “it’s a horizontal market”. They have choices!

    If you want it to live beyond your efforts you could consider open-sourcing the code or soliciting a maintainer via the site.

    Above all, keep putting these thoughts out there. It’s helpful for all of us!

    • Shane Labs April 17, 2014 at 9:32 am - Reply

      Good to hear, thanks Ben!

  2. John Maguire April 17, 2014 at 9:00 am - Reply

    Any chance you’ll consider open sourcing TaskShot? This way other developers could perhaps pick it up and it could live on for its users. 🙂

    • Shane Labs April 17, 2014 at 9:33 am - Reply

      Hmm…that is a good idea. Although with such little adoption I’d worry I’d go through the effort of setting that up and then it’d just stagnate…

      • DatDeveloper April 17, 2014 at 11:10 am - Reply

        Don’t worry so much about it, just do it.

        Either open source it or pass it on to someone willing to take it over. I might be interested but would need to know more details about the language its coded in first.

        • Shane Labs April 17, 2014 at 11:54 am - Reply

          Thanks! It’s in PHP, with a MySQL database.

  3. Dylan Roy April 17, 2014 at 11:16 am - Reply

    You could always give it a new home by selling it on Flippa or give it to one of the people who I am sure will be emailing you after this post.

    • Shane Labs April 17, 2014 at 11:54 am - Reply

      Do people buy sites on Flippa if they have no revenue?

      • Dylan Roy April 17, 2014 at 12:06 pm - Reply

        Yeah, I have seen them sell decently for the “web app” types of websites, but not nearly for as much. Either way you can set a reserve and it is a bloggable experience whether it succeeds or not. Good luck, with whatever direction you do decide to take it.

  4. Gillian April 17, 2014 at 7:28 pm - Reply

    Why would you announce this unless you were trying sell your site. Just kill the pathetic site and forget about it.

    • Shane Labs April 17, 2014 at 7:42 pm - Reply

      Haha, thanks for the kind words, Gillian! 😉

  5. Obvious June 5, 2014 at 7:05 am - Reply

    I think that making a project, and then waiting until you have a lot of users to make it great is not going to bring success

    • Shane Labs June 5, 2014 at 7:05 am - Reply

      haha, it sounds obvious when you put it that way. It’s just that I don’t want to spend too much time on something that isn’t going to succeed. But your point is a wise one, and something I need to reflect on for sure.

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