Astrid Inc. is best known for making a popular web and mobile app that allows users to create to-do lists with social features. But the San Francisco-based startup, which this week announced an undisclosed amount of new funding from Google Ventures and Nexus Venture Partners, has much bigger plans in mind.
“We didn’t raise the money we did simply to be a to-do list company,” Astrid co-founder Jon Paris told me in an interview this week. He was short on specifics, but it seems that Astrid may be keen to expand its services beyond task scheduling — and into helping with task completion.
To date, Astrid has focused purely on helping people make to-do lists — albeit in a very unique way. Astrid’s mobile app allows users to make to-do lists and share them with certain individuals or groups of people. Astrid lists can also be made entirely public, or completely private. Astrid is currently available in the Android app marketplace; an iOS version is in beta testing now and will launch to the public later this month.
Astrid for Android has been downloaded more than 1.5 million times in the past year alone, and it currently has more than 250,000 active users monthly. The reason for Astrid’s popularity is two-fold, Paris tells me: The simple user interface attracts the multitasking-mom contingent, but the app has power features under the hood that satisfy power using “life hacker” types.
Meanwhile, Astrid’s social features add fun to the often staid practice of task management, Paris says. “When my buddies see that I haven’t biked to work in a week, they like to give me a hard time about that,” he said, adding that sharing goals also makes people more motivated to get them done. The CEO said he likes to joke that Astrid is a “cure for the lazy husband and nagging spouse” cliche, since it allows couples to check in and remind each other of things that need to be done in a quicker, less direct way.
But now Astrid has a bigger picture in mind. Paris told me the company plans to put its new funding toward building offerings beyond its signature to-do list app. “We’re trying to discover how to give more help to people to help them be more productive,” Paris said. “I think there are a lot of really interesting ways we can help people get important things done.” Given that one of Astrid’s new investors is Jack Herrick, who co-founded the crowdsourced how-to website WikiHow, does this mean the company could start providing the capability to outsource the completion of certain tasks on their to-do lists to other people — or even robotic services? The question elicited a smile from Paris, but he made a point of holding specific plans close to the chest: “We’re happy to have the domain expertise that every one of our investors bring,” he said.
The task completion space is certainly heating up at the moment: TaskRabbit, an online marketplace where people can pay others to run their errands, recently raised $5 million in funding and is actively working on a nationwide expansion; and new startup Fancy Hands promises to provide virtual personal assistants at affordable prices. Astrid already has the list-making process down pat; it may be smart for the company to get further into helping people cross things off their to-do lists, as well.