😅 a.k.a the reason why I haven't posted in months
I trust you can forgive me.
It’s been months since I shared a newsletter but in my defence, I’ve been busy.
I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to Arro — a startup that I’ve co-founded with Johannes Herrmann to help shape the future of remote work.
We have three quick announcements to make:
We recently closed our pre-seed round of funding with participation from InReach Ventures and 25+ strategic angels (see below).
We just launched arro.co — our first website which includes a product demo and a link to our careers page with open roles.
We’ve started taking sign-ups for the beta and we’re going to provide access soon through a waiting-list.
If you’ve got a moment, I’d really appreciate it if you could help out with the following:
(10 seconds) Sign up to the beta on our homepage here.
(1 minute) Help us spread the word by sending a tweet → just click here to share a pre-written draft 👈 ( p.s. this is the easiest way to get to the top of the waiting-list 😉 )
(5 minutes) Check out the rest of this newsletter about why we started the company in the first place and the scale of our ambitions.
Thanks for your support! 🤙
Why work on this mission?
Exactly 12 months ago, our co-founder Craig was doing his annual review and goal setting for the year ahead. Having recovered from Long COVID in 2020, he was keen to take stock of what really mattered. Working from home seemed great in so many ways but it was still flawed.
He loved spending more time with his family and less time commuting. He enjoyed working around his schedule and not on someone else’s terms. Yet each day, he’d find himself struggling with the same problems:
A general feeling of loneliness and disconnection from his peers;
Low motivation and drive without the pressure of an office environment;
Burnout from the expectation of being ‘always on’; and
A weird sense of languishing around the hobbies he used to enjoy outside of work.
At the same time, Johannes had recently started working remotely full-time. He’d always wanted to move towards a distributed engineering role but the transition hadn’t been easy. Working from a small apartment in Stockholm, he felt like he was often living at work instead of working from home.
Recognising that there had to a better way, Johannes and Craig decided to pair up. The first thing they wanted to do was to learn if these issues were unique to them or not. So they spoke to hundreds of freelancers, employees and students to learn about what they liked and disliked about remote work.
It turned out that there was a a lot of similarities between these groups. Most people loved remote work and didn’t want to go back to the office but there were clear tradeoffs. Adapting to the pandemic, they hadn’t developed the social antibodies to make the most of this shift.
How does Arro work?
Arro is a shared daily operating system that helps you spend your time more intentionally. The way it works is simple — you use the tool first thing in the morning to plan your day. You then interact with the app as the day progresses, providing updates and check-ins along the way. The goal is to get to day zero which means completing whatever it is you set out to do.
Arro was built from the ground up to tackle those issues like loneliness, burnout and low motivation. As part of our product discovery process, we looked into lots of different ways to manage our time. We tested out multiple calendar apps. We played around with to-do apps. We even tried accountability coaching.
Ultimately though, we felt that we needed to invent something new to solve these problems from first principles. We learnt that prioritisation was the single biggest lever to improve job satisfaction. So we imagined a tool that could act like your personal assistant, using social prompts to nudge you back on track to help you get the most from life and work — on your terms.
We also wanted to do this in a completely asynchronous way. We felt that remote work shouldn’t just replicate the office. The best version of remote work is time agnostic and distraction free. It revolves around everyone’s schedule. Reverting to virtual meetings or live chat as the default mode of communication isn’t progress. So we set out to deliver on our promise through three main value propositions:
Planning -> You choose the planning horizon that you want (eg weekly, quarterly, annual or longer) so that each day is anchored around a clear set of priorities. Soon, we’ll also provide calendar integrations to ensure that your time is aligned with your values. We want you to feel fully in control of your schedule.
Check-ins -> The daily page is your go to destination to manage your day. You can create blocks of open text, add active tasks or include any number of habits. You can also measure your day through sliders and emoji reactions. We’re even including pomodoro timers to improve focus. All these blocks can be integrated with Slack, Teams and email to provide reminders for you to report on how your day is going.
Feedback -> Arro works best when you share your inputs with peers who can act as accountability partners. We provide the surfaces for you to comment on and motivate each other through real-time feedback. Your network can be as small as two people or it can stretch to a larger group. You can invite your network to participate or you can tap into a community of like-minded individuals who are already using the product.
When we looked around, we realised that a lot of the existing products used for remote work aren’t fit for purpose. They actually increase that feeling of being ‘always on’. They may improve communication but knowledge workers were never meant to be overpaid human routers. Real work happens during blocks of uninterrupted time.
We also felt that most online networks were just zero-sum signalling arenas. There’s lots of rhetoric around brining your ‘whole-self’ to work every day. Can you really do that through a Slack channel or over an email thread? Remote work only increases our tendency to mask what’s really going on. We add temperature checks to our meeting agendas. We discuss transactional status updates. We show the version of us that people expect to show up. Every day can’t be perfect but there’s an expectation that it should be. So we compartmentalise and pay the price.
The tools you use should serve you — not the other way around. That’s the whole point of technology. We believe that software should appeal to people’s values, not their primordial nervous systems. This remote transition is a once in a generation opportunity to reset our ways of working. There’s never been a better time to restructure how we spend our time. For us, that means focusing on self-growth above everything else.
What does success look like?
If we’re successful in our mission, we will have built the world’s largest growth network — a global collection of supportive strivers. We don’t expect that to happen overnight and we don’t think it’s going to be easy. We’re asking a lot of our community:
We want them to be more balanced — to think about their day in terms of all personal and professional commitments so that work doesn’t become the default.
We want them to feel more productive which comes from being disciplined about how they spend their time so they can do less, but better.
We want them to realise what they're aiming for and to help them recalibrate if this is directionally off.
We want them to be more egocentric — which means taking more pride in their work on the good days and feeling safe to be vulnerable on the bad days.
We want them to be both motivated and inspired by the progress of their peers and empathetic towards their plight.
The best — maybe the only? — real, direct measure of “innovation” is change in human behaviour.
We know this is a big ask and the odds are stacked against us. Getting people to use our product every day and change the way they spend their time is a gargantuan task. But if we have a small shot at genuinely make a difference in people’s lives, we’re willing to take that bet.
Going fully remote (or even hybrid) is one of the biggest societal changes to happen over the past 50 years. We want to do our part in shaping that future for the better. That’s what gets us out of bed everyday to work on Arro and that’s what drives us to succeed.
Who are we?
As founders, we’ve been working on consumer and B2B products for over 15 years. Our skillset is in developing simple but delightful user-interfaces at scale.
Craig has tried building lots of products — some have worked, a lot haven’t. He’s happiest though when he’s bringing something new into the world that connects people in novel ways. Craig co-founded Soundwave, a music social network, which Spotify acquired in 2016. Craig most recently worked as a product lead at Spotify for 5 years before setting up his own product consultancy.
Johannes loves to build products and companies. As a co-founder of Airinum he helped build up a global e-commerce brand and it's logistical backbone between 2015 & 2018. Since then he has helped startups in Stockholm to build and scale their software products. He loves to geek out about scaling engineering teams and software architecture.
What's our roadmap?
We’ve been testing Arro internally for a couple of months now and we’re happy with the progress. We think we’re building something innovative and unique. Right now, we’re still developing the app to improve the overall experience. Our aim is to have the beta in people’s hands for testing in Q2 of this year. All going well, we’d like to launch the product publicly after that.
We have a limited number of slots available for people to test out the Beta. If you’d like to give it a try, just include your email on our homepage and we’ll add you to the wait list. We’re going to provide access as soon we can and look forward to getting your feedback!
Who invested in Arro?
InReach Ventures is the AI-powered venture capital firm focused on early stage European startups. InReach develops and uses its own proprietary software and AI to discover, evaluate, and support investments, primarily in the areas of consumer internet, SaaS, and marketplaces.
Amanda Jones Floyd
Phillip O' Reilly
Nikhil Anil Shah