This week, Omer Khan of CoversionAid and The SaaS Podcast hosted Freedom Founder and CEO, Fred Stutzman. ConversionAid is a company dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and businesses build, launch, and grow successful SaaS products. Each week, Omer interviews proven entrepreneurs and startup founders to bring you actionable insight into how to build and grow your own business.
This week’s podcast focused on learning more about what Freedom does, some of the core problems it solves, and how it all began.
Fred discussed the severity of digital distraction and how solutions like Freedom enable us to break habits and develop better focus and work habits. Here’s a short excerpt:
Omer Khan: “So for people who aren’t familiar with Freedom can you sort of give them a description of what the product does and how it works. And basically who are your target customers.”
Fred Stutzman: “Sure. So we help people be more productive by blocking distractions. And that’s that’s pretty much as simple as it gets. We make a software product that works across all your devices. So Mac, Windows, we have an Android partner, browser extensions. All those things that you interact with on a daily basis from your technology stack. We make products that allow you to choose and have control over when you’re going to be able to be distracted by that stuff. Your distractions can be anything from social media to email to news to sports. Everybody’s got a distraction and everybody’s got something that is competing for their attention. And we just make it super simple for you to turn that off when you want to focus.”
Fred Stutzman: “And so our target customer are people who need to do focused work, which thankfully, is almost everybody. But we really go after people who are knowledge-workers, people who are creatives, students, professionals of all types – accountants, attorneys – anybody who realizes that their time is valuable. And that’s really what it boils down to because when you sit down at your computer to get stuff done, you’ve got all these things that are competing for your attention – everything from notifications from Facebook to the endless stack of emails from your friends and coworkers, and having all that competing for your attention just makes you less productive. There’s a ton of research that validates this. And so the more that you can turn off the noise and not be able to go and check – and having it turned off for you so that you that you are able to focus and think only about your work at hand – that’s incredibly powerful.
So that’s what we do. And a couple of years ago, people would say that’s a crazy idea but I think as we see how technology’s evolving and see just how manipulative digital distractions are and just how sort of constant they are. There’s a need to help people get into a focused work state where there are no distractions and once you’ve done that and experienced it – it’s just so powerful. So that’s that’s what we do in a nutshell.”
Omer Khan: “So where did the idea come from. How did you come up with the idea for Freedom?”
Fred Stutzman: “So the origin story of Freedom goes back to when I was in graduate school and I was studying social media and doing my dissertation work. I studied information science and human-computer interaction. I was interested in how people use technology and the social impacts of it. And when I was in graduate school, it was the very early days of this piece of software called Facebook that nobody had heard about. I was studying college students using it. And I would see the numbers, you know, the utilization of the software how much time they were spending on – the numbers were incredible, a phenomenon unlike anything we’ve seen. So I was studying the software and also started using it as graduate school continued. Facebook got more popular and I was realized that although I was able to sort of claim Facebook as research time, I was also wasting a lot of time on it as well.
Eventually, I started going to a cafe to work in the cafe didn’t have wireless and this was before you know everybody’s phone was like LTE and the internet was everywhere. So I was like ‘OK, this is a great way for me to get work done. I’m away from connectivity and away from distractions.’ And I got a lot of my dissertation work done that way. And then one day that coffee shop got Wi-Fi and all of a sudden my productivity started tanking. So I I basically said well if we’re never going to be able to escape this connectivity then what can we do about this. And being a software engineer I said okay, well maybe I can build some software to solve this problem and I built the first version of Freedom.
You know in about an hour and all it did was you know you pressed a button and turned off your internet for I think it was 45 minutes and you were pretty much locked you know you’re locked away. And I started using it and it made a pretty positive impact in my life. And you know I knew I knew how to escape it too.
But I found that like once I committed to being offline, I followed through and I got my work done. I was like ‘wow, there’s something really powerful and positive going on here.’ So I shared it with some people and it just kind of took off from there. But yeah I mean it was literally just me in a coffee shop thinking about how do I solve this problem that I think is going to become a bigger and bigger problem. And you know here we are. All these years later.”
To listen more, you can find the rest of the podcast here on The SaaS podcast.