Strategy Letter: Closing the Loop


Not so deep-down, I know that a wider perspective about where I spend my time is needed to grow Kinopio into a real business boy.

Instead of taking the holidays off, I just worked half-days. I wanted to go into the new year bug free, to help mentally justify spending more time on marketing. I’m still working my way there, but now that I’ve had some time to think, raising awareness is still just one part of the puzzle.

Like a Porsche with a wheel missing, Kinopio is pretty nice but missing an important part of itself.

I’ve primarily focused on making Kinopio expressive, natural, and fun-feeling to get the thoughts out of your head and get to new places by connecting them and arranging them. I’m happy that this really seems to resonate with people besides me. What I’m still missing is something that keeps you coming back after you’ve done those things.

The utility of organizing thoughts, feelings, and information makes for a good thinking tool, but a tool that’s not a required part of your job needs to do more to pull people back in.

I think this kind of thing may be ‘something social’, or ‘something notification-y’. I have pieces of both, but:

  • People add cool spaces to Explore … but other people don’t know when to check Explore for new spaces, and I’m not doing much to make creators feel good that their spaces are being seen.

Aside: I get a moderation email each time a new space is added to Explore, it’s pretty cool, but those are probably too frequent for normal people

  • When you share or invite people to spaces, you don’t know when something happens in those spaces. You’re not actively encouraged to respond to others

Of course, there’s socially-manipulative or anxiety-inducing ways to address these issues, so whatever I build should be:

  • Transparent. The user knows what’s going on and what the impact of their actions will be
  • Not distracting. Socializing and deep work can be very different feelings. Connecting thoughts shouldn’t become noisy for people who don’t want that
  • Interesting and entertaining. Encouraging more people to make spaces with their friends, coworkers, and enemies :slight_smile:

this post is also mirrored on . I think I’ll treat this forum as the canonical place for new Rough Notes because is becoming really slow and is too buggy for text entry

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I’m excited about this. I regularly and manually check the explore tab for new spaces, spaces of users I know actively use Kinopio, and then within those spaces, use the Updated filter and do a string search for “hours” or “day ago”. :grinning:

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thanks for sharing your thoughts!

re: explore - i do look at it regularly to see if there’s new stuff but i find it tricky differentiating between brand new spaces vs recently updated spaces i’ve seen previously and don’t want to revisit. maybe differentiating brand new space/space you’ve visited will help the discovery process.

re: feel good bit: i think it depends on use case. like, not sure how much value someone listing movies they want to watch would get outta knowing that other people viewed their space. i think most people who want their spaces to be seen/interacted with would have deliberately designed their space for this (e.g. ask for comments, ask people to do x) and the number/quality of responses will help them feel seen. maybe increasing visibility of spaces which are seeking community input would help? though i guess you’re doing that with the globe (publically editable) icon

also, did you make that img? :star_struck:


good point , I should do that !

totally agree. I think telling you who interacted with your space (as opposed to who viewed it) is a lot more useful in the spaces where you want others to edit

this one? inno_noby
I wish my 3d skills were that good (maybe one day…). It’s from an old ps4 game called nobi nobi boy

I love the use of this forum to post your rough notes to the community! It’s a nice way to for us to feel connected to the maker of this tool we love!

Like a Porsche with a wheel missing, Kinopio is pretty nice but missing an important part of itself.

…If I knew there was a Porsche, even with a wheel missing, accessible to me, I’d jump on it…just sayin :smile:

What I’m still missing is something that keeps you coming back after you’ve done those things.

A thing I think about a lot is a way to take the rough, gnarly thoughts Kinopio has pulled out of my brain into something “less rough” and shareable. For example, after creating a busy, rough, brainstorming space on ideas for a writing an article, I would love to export some of it into a text file or a gsheet. I know that this is a crazy hard problem (what would the text file look like? how would you arrange the cards in that kind of output?) but I’m curious to see what the community thinks of this (and if I’m asking for something impossible haha).

Also- I love going into explore and but do admit that I forget for weeks that it exists- excited to see what you’re going to build there.


I’ve also used Kinopio to write a few papers and essays. At some point after outlining and jotting down ideas, I end up in a text editor. I would like to stay in Kinopio a little longer because it is very helpful to have the context of my notes and connections right there while I’m writing. Some brainstorming of what might help:

  • Recently I suggested a list/column container idea that would help when writing prose. It would be a container that you can put cards into and takes care of ordering. This would be a natural place to put sentences, paragraphs, and make it easy to export a blob of text in that order.
  • In my workflows for writing, I start with a general outline, and then fill in details as I move to the right. It would be interesting if I could select my top outline items (let’s say section headings), and then have Kinopio traverse the connections and give me all the text “underneath” those headings in order. That would be pretty advanced and require more explicit indications of order.
  • A way to distinguish between the main content and notes. Sometimes when I’m writing or editing, I have my main text that I am writing, but then I want to take notes and add commentary on the side. I would love a way to designate certain cards as more permanent content that “feels” more sturdy. So, their positioning is harder to change, and make them look not deletable. And then I can add connections on the sides.



Yes, same here. Something like Frames maybe, but not necessarily as elaborately beautiful!

I also like your idea of containers!


I’ve primarily focused on making Kinopio expressive, natural, and fun-feeling to get the thoughts out of your head and get to new places by connecting them and arranging them. I’m happy that this really seems to resonate with people besides me. What I’m still missing is something that keeps you coming back after you’ve done those things.

I had a few observations about myself when I started using Kinopio. Part of the reason why… Kinopio helped me get the jumble of thoughts out of my head is because there was a sense of psychological safe space created for me - with the interface, with the demo space, with the words on the demo space, and just little interactions that begin at the start. This is not usual for most apps these days. Honestly, for this as well as the other functionality, this would have me as a loyal person who will keep returning. Because somehow it feels like more and more parts of the internet are becoming more sterile/ unsafe fairly quickly.

But then again, this sense of psychological safety is usually a very sub-conscious intuitive thing. Most people may not consciously notice it unless someone remarks and points it out as an afterthought - and they stop to reflect on their experience.


I think more and more people will notice it,

when I was like 10 almost all the food you could buy was from factories and big companies like Nestle and Del Monté. No one irl really questioned it or thought that much about it.

But a couple years later people started caring about ‘organic’ and ‘healthy’ foods. We deserve to not put crap in our bodies.

It’s still very early days, but I think something similar will happen with software :slight_smile:


I like that thought, and yes I see what you mean. I’m excited for the future!

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I definitely think that privacy and transparency is one of the most important aspects of kinopio i can store personal information and not worry at all. considering some other mind map and productivity tools have questionable security and from what I’ve read are a deal-breaker regardless of user experience or quality.

I am curious if you look into similar tools that are “competition” as a way of thinking of where kinopio is at and where it can go in terms of uniqueness, features and perhaps marketing. and maybe avoid mistakes similar tools have made as they’ve progressed or as some call it “devolved”.

I wanna say that my best friend got on kinopio recently and they are loving it and we add things to each other’s spaces, it’s a new way of motivating each other. I think word of mouth might be the best marketing tool.


Good question,

I think for better and worse Kinopio is kind of a unique product, it indirectly competes with enterprise “whiteboarding” apps like miro/mural, but also with “tools for thought” like roam. Because it doesn’t fit in very neatly into a specific mold, the marketing will need to be similarly different. Partly cerebrally: making the case for a more visual, more expressive, way of thinking and communicating. And partly viscerally: by pulling people in to Kinopio by how responsive and fun it looks to use.

In terms of avoiding mistakes that companies make as they grow and devolve, my ‘inspirations’ are the companies I’ve worked at (e.g. FogCreek, Glitch, Freshbooks, among others). Because I was working at those companies at the time, I have a deeper understanding of why the ceos of those companies were motivated to make the decisions they made, and how they rationalized those decisions to themselves and others. I’ve never had a mentor, but I learn from everyone.


to me the “competition” either milanote or notion, they have similar uses and tools and i believe that perhaps it could give you some insight by comparing in a healthy/positive way to see what you can add or do better and looking into how people utilize the tools provided in unexpected ways.
i am considering using them for more serious personal projects, but like i said the privacy/security aspect is the most important thing for me which keep me from starting to use them.

hope this helps. ^^

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