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Arin is currently the founder and CEO of Jeraff, Inc., maker of social list-making app Well.
Prior to founding Jeraff Arin was the lead of Digg’s Core Infrastructure team. Before joining up with the folks at Digg he led development at Fuzz.com where he created Blip.fm. Prior to Blip.fm/Fuzz.com he’s worked for various startups including Topix & Spoke Software.
Well is an app for iPhone and iPod touch that effectively bridges the gap between your social graph and to do lists. In contrast to productivity-oriented apps, Well focuses on creating a beautiful and simple way for users to share the things they want to do.
MO: What problem is Well solving?
Arin: People are more connected than they’ve ever been and that’s changing the kinds of information they share and consume. We think there’s a large and unrecognized opportunity for people to connect around the things they want to do. To do lists don’t have to be boring. We designed Well because we wanted a beautiful and simple way to keep up with what our friends were doing and to share what we were doing.”
MO: Can you talk about the development behind Well and some of the ideas that influenced the design?
Arin: The design process was very in-depth. The UX & UI bar in the AppStore is high and we spent a lot of time making sure that Well both looks and feels great. We want our users to create a list and think “This list looks awesome; I want my friends to see this”.
We studied what we liked and disliked in many of the popular apps out there. From there we prioritized certain user interactions and started prototyping. As soon as we had features that we could touch and experience we began BETA testing the app. Initially we sent the app off to close friends and family but expanded the pool with each iteration.
MO: How do you think that Well will change how people approach their to-do lists?
Arin: Most importantly, our users are re-thinking what a to-do list is. Instead of treating their to-do list like a “nag app” (a stressful, attention demanding app that showers guilt) they’re using Well to collect & share the things they actually want to do. From wines to try, and movies to see to their life dreams; Well’s a great way for users to express who they are by listing their desires and aspirations.
The community aspects of the app reinforce this. On Well your to-do list is no longer a secret; its fun, social & interactive.
MO: Can you expand on the social aspect of Well? What are some ways that users can start building a Well community?
Arin: One of the great things about Well is that not only does it help you share your lists but it also helps you discover new things to do. So, the social aspect of the site goes both ways. Not only do our users share what they’re doing but by following & interacting with other users they discover fun & interesting things that they’d like to do as well.
The app is built on top of social – it’s not an add-on or an afterthought. From the activity stream to, likes, comments and suggestions – the entire experience of Well is designed to be better with social interaction.
MO: Seeing as Well is free to down load, what does your revenue model look like?
Arin: Our revenue model will be based on helping our users connect with retailers or service providers that will help them get their to-dos done.
Taking a “My trip to Paris” list as an example: the user will obviously need to book a flight/hotel etc. We’ll be focus our efforts around bringing information & help to the user. So, instead of going out and searching for the best travel deals we’ll have the deals come to you.
We’re very intent on making sure that any advertising we display will truly be a value add for our users.
MO: What are some of your favorite features of the app? What are some features that you’re looking forward to adding in the future?
Arin: Suggestions are my favorite feature. I love browsing through other users’ lists and tossing in my 2 cents. I’m a pretty huge horror movie fan so any time I see horror movie lists and I can help but suggest a few gems.
It’s a pretty great feel when someone says they loved a movie or restaurant I suggested.
On the flip side I love getting suggestions as well. My inner lazy guy loves having great ideas magically fall on my lap.
MO: I read on your blog that you like “to make (stuff) up or play devil’s advocate just to stir things up.” When was the last time you made something up or played devil’s advocate for the sheer fun of it?
Arin: My best-played lie was on the day Michael Jackson passed away. I tweeted that, as a tribute, I tried to do one of his leg wiggle dance moves, dislocated my hip & was on my way to the ER. I sent follow up tweets (aka lies) complaining that the hospital waiting room was taking too long etc. It was pretty hilarious. That one generated a lot of replies – I pulled it off well.
Playing devil’s advocate is something I do a lot. I usually do it to challenge the other person and make sure they really put some thought behind about their stance. This happens at work a lot.
I’ll play devil’s advocate out of boredom too. I’ll pick an absurd stance during a discussion just to see how people will react.
MO: I saw that on one of your Well to-do lists that you’d like to meet Bill Gates. If you got the opportunity where would you like to meet him and what questions would you be most interested in asking?
Arin: I’ve always looked up to Bill; He played suck a huge part in the PC revolution that I wouldn’t even know where to begin! I’d love to just sit down with him, hear some stories about the early days and get his take on the industry.
I probably couldn’t help myself and would end up asking what he’d like to see MS do to turn around their image.
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