$13 million and 3 years later, Superlist hopes to become a Decacorn. But will it be?


The former founder of a to-do list app that sold for up to $200 million returns, 9 years later, with yet another app to do the same thing. Really? It’s a difficult story to make up, but it’s happening.

I guess you can’t keep a good founder. After selling his first startup – the “To Do” list app Wunderlist – to Microsoft in 2015, Christian Réber (photo) could have relaxed with his angel investment (he is an investor in Notion for example). Instead, he launched a new company, Pitch, for which it now needs to find a new CEO. But a long time ago he also decided to get into the “To Do App” app. still had to scratch.

This week he finally brought Superlist excluding beta. It’s a smartphone and desktop app that takes the sleek interface approach of the old Wunderlist and brings it into the 21st century.

Now, before we get into why the hell Reber decided to come back to a startup, let’s cover the basics of the app.

Superlist is a full-featured to-do list app (it should be, it spent a whole 12 months in beta testing) that, unusually, lets you split personal to-do lists and share them with members of your family, friends or even colleagues (this last point is the key to the rest). These tasks or tasks can also be enhanced much more deeply than other apps of this type: with long notes, pictures, you name it, giving it much more firepower than similar platforms.

There’s also a fairly basic “AI” feature that can turn unstructured emails or Slack messages into tasks and their contents with other productivity tools like Gmail, Slack, Github, and Google Calendar. The minimalist user interface is simple to use, but the main takeaway is that Superlist is designed for teams. You can create a list for a project, share it with a team, then fill it with notes, files, tasks, images, and more. The Pro account costs $8 per month per user, but a free account will be enough for most. people.

So yes, it’s designed to be personal, but it has an interface that makes it easy to switch between personal and professional spaces. Reber says he found in a survey of beta users that most of them didn’t want to use their company’s tools “due to privacy concerns or usability issues.” Instead, they are more likely, he says, to bring their personal to-do list into the work environment and start using it there. In other words, Superlist has a “Trojan horse” strategy where it will use users’ personal to-do lists – which also include work lists – to reintegrate itself into the company.

As for the company, it has a very experienced founding team consisting of Reber and Niklas Jansen (founder of Blinkist). To date, the company has raised €13.5 million from Cherry Ventures and EQT.

Superlist app

Superlist app

What’s key about all of this is that Reber believes there’s a space between scheduling apps and list apps that Superlist will fill. And you can bet he’s pissed that Microsoft turned his baby into a rather boring version of his original vision, and then stop it. Ironically, Superlist has no integration with Microsoft 365. Perhaps they will have to repurchase Superlist?

This is an edited conversation with Reber about what he plans to do:

Reber: “The full story is that in 2015 we sold, and personally, as a founder and product manager, I felt like I hadn’t actually finished the job. What we wanted to achieve was a better to-do app that works for individual users and essentially scales to teams. We wanted to create a product that allowed people to manage their personal and professional projects. Because you have tools like Things or Reminders. These are well-designed tools for organizing your personal life, but you’ll never be able to integrate them into the business world because they’re not really meant for sharing and collaboration.

Mike Boucher / TechCrunch: What about all the planning tools available?
Reber: “In the business world, you have tools like Asana, Monday.com, Basecamp and other software optimized for project managers. But we did a lot of research that showed us that 75% of users don’t use these tools. They are bought for business but people don’t really like to use them. When we sold to Microsoft, Microsoft decided to rework the product into the Microsoft stack, but honestly the product wasn’t for me. I used it. I respect the work, but I didn’t really enjoy it.

TechCrunch: However, there are other note-taking and task-taking tools. What did you see that was wrong?

I honestly believe this is a multi-billion dollar business opportunity… Everyone in the world works with lists.

Reber: “Evernote was the first personal productivity app for taking notes, writing down tasks, and inserting business cards. And then Notion (I was a seed investor) took this to a whole new level where you have workspaces. You can add team members with whom you can collaborate on very simple document types. I love the company and it has become a $10 billion juggernaut in productivity. And I’m a power user of Notion. I use it in all the projects I participate in. But to me, I always felt like if someone built the successor to Evernote, why wasn’t anyone building the successor to Wunderlist, as a team app? A To-Do collaborative application that bridges this gap between personal and professional life? »

“And I really honestly believe that this is a multi-billion dollar business opportunity. I think it’s a huge market. Every person in the world works with lists, organizing their personal and professional lives. I tried as an angel investor to find the company I was passionate about, but then COVID happened.

TechCrunch: Why did it take you three years to create Superlist?

Reber: “There have been issues like what is Superlist and how do we fix that? And how can we make the product nice, unique and not just like a cheap copy of Wunderlist. So there was a lot of thinking, a lot of iteration, and a little bit of conflict between founders.

TechCrunch: Did you see the opportunity in the fact that we had an explosion of collaborative work tools, like Slack, Teams, Notion, etc.? ?
Reber: “Apple Reminders is a very personal product. Asana is a very business-oriented product. Personally, I don’t know why every company in this space is either working in the consumer space or the commercial space. But no one is tackling the real problem. What we’ve noticed is that people want flexibility. They also want to add long paragraphs to a quick side note, or add additional headings or add images in lists, attachments, PDFs, numbered lists, etc. What we did wrong in the software world, for example, was that Evernote was all about notes. And that’s still the problem. Lists are so much more.

TechCrunch: What will the AI ​​aspect be?

Reber: “We’re currently trying out a lot of AI features, like ‘build me a due diligence list for a new business.’ Maybe you could ask Superlist to create a brief summary of something.

TechCrunch: How do you see this becoming more than just a consumer app and something that integrates with other commercial platforms?

Reber: “You can be part of several teams. Actually, you start using this product by yourself and then later you introduce your own software to a company. And then you also start organizing your lists at work. And then you invite your colleagues to grow the teams you create. That’s the idea that we have here and that’s, I think, a cool part of the whole experience, is that you can just turn off these teams and then your worklists disappear. And if you’re at work, you can deactivate your personal list. You don’t have that scale of switching between a ton of different workspaces.

TechCrunch: It kind of reminds me of Dropbox’s strategy where people used it in their personal lives because it was a lot simpler than trying to use an internal intranet or something.

Reber: “Right. That’s where we failed with Wunderlist. We had tens of millions of users. All we accomplished was creating a nice interface for managing shopping lists. But we had a few users who were using it at Fortune 500 companies, and none of them paid. None of them really invited their teams because it was too messy. It just didn’t work. And I think that’s the challenge that we’re trying to focus on. How can you bridge that. How can you organize your life and your work without getting distracted by one or the other.

TechCrunch: Do you see this being picked up on release by Notion, Slack, Salesforce or anyone else?

Reber: “Look, this still sounds cheesy, but I don’t want to start a company and sell it. I didn’t want that with Wunderlist and I hope we can avoid it with Superlist. I learned the hard way that every time you write a line of code, it can be overwritten the next day, the next month, or the next year, so nothing lasts forever. I also have to take into account my co-founder’s vote, for example if they want the opportunity to turn their shares into real money, etc. There are always ways to solve this problem. But I don’t want to sell this. I really believe that Superlist can be a Decacorn, if we just focus on executing it very, very carefully, we don’t get into a feature war with our competitors, and we really focus on our mission.


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