Moonshot - I Need Help Grant

Nudges Feb 5, 2020

I just applied for a 50k grant from *the* Hank Green. Ahhhhh! I can't even find where I found the original Google Form, but for the sake of transparency... here's my submission. I own (and need to put something on the domain), but I keep alternating between calling my product Nudges and Nudges IO. Still less confusing than when it was named after me.

I'm fixing my own problem, I know cognitive burdens like information overload and distractions well.

What is your product / service?

Nudges IO. Start where your data is. It finds all of your existing accounts and collects your data for self tracking or self experiments. It's like a videogame stats dashboard. Since I'm using Puppeteer (headless chrome) instead of APIs, it can do anything a user can in their account. My lifetime mission/vision is people can have more control over software and learn based on what they already know (semantic encoding). This might help people develop interdisciplinary skills and communicate with others of very different backgrounds. People could also opt in their data to help others with similar identities. As a queer, nonbinary and disabled software developer and entrepreneur, I would love to help other marginalized people overcome hurdles and gain access to those spaces.

Tell us about your business idea

For revenue models, I'm looking at freemium (charging people to store their data or automatically delete accounts/data) or charging other apps for Nudges API access to personalize their UX (with user consent of course). I would love to pursue sustainable open source (open source nonprofit) the way Ghost has done for publishing.

Who are your customers?

My target audience is anyone who struggles with executive dysfunction. People with ADHD, PTSD or chronic illness. I have all 3. It's pretty exhausting to try new treatments or different ways to learn and not know what's actually working. Manually self tracking is a huge ask for people with limited cognitive energy already. Most popular software is ads based revenue and built to hook people - the dopamine economy. I want to help the people most affected by this.

What are your competitive advantages?

Integration over competition - competing for users downloads or time in an app has become increasingly difficult. As a progressive web app and browser extension, we are helping people control their existing software instead. For example, we don't need to build a journal app or calendar functionality. If a users goals need journal prompts or calendar scheduling, we don't need to build those features. We can automatically add that data to what they are using or suggest apps instead.

Flexibility in revenue models (see above).

Market timing- the rise of GDPR and CCPA is supportive of individuals claiming and using their own data.

Our closest direct competitors are and does aggregate personal data across a variety of apps with useful insights, but there is only a single improvement metric - doing better than your past averages. is for people to understand or improve existing habits. It’s not a starting point for foundational life skills or goals, since it relies on simple comparison metrics and does not use predictive analytics. has a wealth of integrations, but it’s app ecosystem is the traditional silo-ed apps that are tailored towards specific use cases/types of data such as finances. The other apps provide a platform for creating or exchanging data with businesses, but little tools to improve a user’s life beyond small payments. There are various integration/automation apps (Zapier/IFTTT) I didn’t include in this list because of the barrier for most users in figuring out how to best use them.

What are your primary needs?

  • I just put notice in at the startup I've been working at and have 6 months of personal savings runway.
  • Assistance building a community of engaged users and possibly open source contributors
  • Legal advice on web crawling and scraping (Side note: I got some today from the UW Law and Entrepreneurship clinic)
  • Advice on business structure, I am currently in the process of making an LLC with Stripe Atlas
  • Pricing feedback. Many Indie Hackers pursue a one time payment instead of subscriptions to start. This would be more important if I'm pursuing a B2B model.
  • Advice on things I'm sure I'm not aware of yet

How do you see your business growing?

I'm planning an MVP launch for April which will include finding all accounts and scraping their data. I would like to have a 100 beta users signed up before then.

How will you reach and communicate with your customers?

A forum and newsletters before an MVP is even built. I will also share any user engagement analytics with the users themselves. I plan on finding users through Reddit communities and Facebook groups, plus a Product Hunt launch when an MVP is finished. I've started setting up social accounts on Twitter and Instagram. I'm writing on related topics on Medium and a personal blog.

What do you anticipate will be your biggest costs?

Human resources. Currently it is mostly myself and I have some help from a designer. I don't plan on hiring until/unless we are "ramen profitable" (paying my own bills). This is one of the appeals of open sourcing it, as transparency and community support is a central value for Nudges IO and we can avoid additional development costs. I would like to explore models for compensating OSS contributors in the future.

Hosting might be a main expense and is one of the primary open source business models right now (Ghost charges for hosting/support). I'd like to pursue people hosting their own data and Nudges accessing their local, self-hosted data for the UX. Actual, a budgeting app, is a good example of local-first that I would like to model this after.

Tell us a little about yourself and why you like this business, and why you're well-suited to run it.

I'm fixing my own problem, I know cognitive burdens like information overload and distractions well. I have chronic illness and a learning disability. I'm also 1st generation college and survived homelessness and food insecurity. I've come so far on healing from trauma and found health stability through therapy, habits and self tracking. Everyone deserves to have the same opportunities I did, to thrive instead of just survive. I also believe solutions should come from the community affected - nothing about us without us.

I'm a former computational biochemist with a machine learning focus. I'm also a full stack developer, data engineer and analyst with 6 years startup experience across healthcare and government. I have over 10 years tutoring and doing STEMM outreach. I co-run a local Meetup group Madison Women in Tech with over 2000 members. I advise social good startups in the Madison area. I'm also a writer and disability advocate.

Header Image: Picture of a tweet by @JuiceTooWavie that says 'Do y'all think bugs are born knowing they can walk up walls or do they just accidentally do it one day and go "yooooooooo"'


Cakelin Fable

Polygon gargoyle. Spicy scientist, engineer, artist, and entrepreneur. Disabled, nonbinary, and bisexual. Host of Defective Detective podcast. Buddhist into books. Service dog pup Pepper Ann.

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