First comes a thought. Then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality.
This is the story of Shifu- a thought which acted as the seed to the brilliantly designed App, which is now a reality. A brainchild of Prashant Singh who believes in “Getting things done”, Shifu was launched a couple of weeks back. It became available for free on Google Play store from 27th June 2013 and works on Android Smartphones.
Built with love by a team passionate about smart phones and their potential to enhance the quality of lives, it strives to help people to navigate through their days, a little more efficiently.
We caught up with Prashant and this is what he had to say about his odyssey with Shifu…
Shifu is an intelligent personal assistant for your Smartphone. It mines through your cell phone usage data and algorithmically estimates how much of free time you might have and recommends what you can do in that time. It can be anything from returning a phone call to visiting your neighbourhood coffee shop. It’s like having a smart friend within your smart phone. You can also watch the launch video here:
What an Idea!
The idea of Shifu germinated when Prashant was in his previous job. They had a portfolio of some 10 apps at that point of time and the downloads ranged between 5-7 Million.
In order to achieve maximum utilization of their app and increase the number of people using it, they studied their active usage pattern and came up with the following conclusions:
1) In a certain geographical region, the peak usage was almost the same.
2) Active usage in those peak hours was 30-40% of overall active user base in that region.
With a simple hack, sending 100% of their active user base in an area during peak usage hours, they tripled their page views within a week. In the subsequent 2.5 years their download count increased to 53 Million with 20+ apps and they began to serve 1.5 million impressions per day, generating revenue of $2000- $8000 per day.
Having realized that people have their free time scattered around the day, the trick was to nudge them at the right moment so that they take the cue and act upon it. He decided to make use of this insight to make people do stuffs, which would be important for them. He joined hands with two of his friends Michael Massey and Deepansh Jain and together they started their company: Signals. Shifu is a result of their hard work of eight months.
It’s Different …
The fundamental difference between Shifu and other time-organizer apps is that most of the other apps are designed on fixed time based system. Shifu tracks your context by looking at various devices and network led data like time, location, network connectivity, call logs, activity sensors etc. Prashant and his team utilized this data and applied statistical techniques like Cohort Analysis, Principal Variable Analysis, Regression analysis etc to build a mathematical model of the context in which the user uses his /her smart phone. Thus in this way, when Shifu recognizes that you have a spare moment, it estimates the free time you have and suggests a relevant task.
The Three Musketeers:
Prashant Singh, Co Founder & Custodian of Shifu (Product & Partnerships) is the “Product Guy” at Signals, who is never too tired to grab a marker and draw a workflow on the whiteboard. Michael Massey, Co Founder & Custodian (Server & Analytics) is the man behind all the server side magic one can see in Shifu. He loves to analyse data and is obsessed about optimizing algorithms. Deepansh Jain, Co Founder & Custodian (Client Side Development) is the spine of the awesome client app of Shifu. He takes care of all the app development and other client side initiatives at Signals. He loves to write and fix codes.
The World is their Stage…
With no geographic boundaries, their target audience comprises of anybody who is a power user of smart phone and wants to utilize it to its full extent.
Users are the Smartest…
Prashant claims their biggest failure so far was underestimating the extent to which the users can be forgiving and helpful. Some of the features of Shifu, during its first release were less than perfect and when the users found bugs in their software, they helped them to fix the errors by doing the field testing. Forever grateful to his users, he and his team are of the opinion that one should “Release Early”, “Release Often” and “Users are smarter than anyone else!”
Having no fixed plan for monetization yet, they are focused on getting the product right and getting a massive distribution. Depending upon how it evolves, the team plans to do anything from an ad supported to a freemium or a subscription model.
So far they have got all their users via reviews in blogs and media or by word of mouth. Moving forward, they wish to go viral and explore other channels for user acquisition like partnerships.
Taking it to the Next Level
The team is already working on a new version which will be live in a month. The new Shifu will be integrated with a lot of new features and partner with a leading global company.
In these fast paced times, where multitasking and time management is crucial, Shifu comes as a sigh of relief to all those who believe in extracting maximum productivity out of 24 hours and we hope it manages to make its mark!