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10 Things to Host Your Own Road Mapping Discovery Sessions like the Rootstrap Guys

10 Things to Host Your Own Road Mapping Discovery Sessions like the Rootstrap Guys

With celebrity apps launching almost daily and brands like the Kardashians cashing out millions, the mobile market is an enticing space for aspiring entrepreneurs. The only problem most people hit is that they have no idea how to actually build an app, launch on the app store, or do anything related to the app industry. While this may be a daunting realization, you probably guessed right that the Kardashians didn’t do any of this for their apps. So how do you actually get from idea to launched in the App Store?

Ben Lee founded Neon Roots in 2011, and the company has since gone on to work with clients including Spotify, Snoop Dogg, and Epson. Neon Roots charges some clients upwards of $1 million for total app development and launch. After being constantly asked by clients about whether or not this hefty investment would be worth it, he launched Rootstrap.

Rootstrap is a pre-product development workshop by Neon Roots. Lee developed the program to work with clients to flesh out the potential of an app before diving into the more expensive steps. Clients who have gone through Rootstrap have seen a 2,600% (seriously, that’s the number) increase in chances for funding, and their alumni pool includes the likes of Tony Robbins and Snoop. Lee’s profound success led to him being named one of Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 CEO’s Under 30.

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After having a chance to sit down with Lee and talk through some of the best tips for starting a company, launching an app, and overall killing it in life, he summed up many of the core aspects of Rootstrap into these top 10 things you need for mapping out a venture.

1. Lots of whiteboards and markers.

Most people are visual learners and so when you are working out ideas, concepts, and functionality potential the critical first step is writing everything on whiteboards. Keeping track of all of your thought processes will save you loads in the future, as well as adding to the creative environment. Furthermore, anything dealing with design needs to be tangible, so earlier mock-ups ought to be done on your whiteboards. In order to maintain this creative environment of literally throwing ideas at the wall, you need to keep an abundance of resources. Never leave the room. Never get distracted. Having lots of writing space and markers leaves you without an excuse to leave and prevents anyone from not being able to add in notes.

2. Sticky notes to keep track of ideas.

As you begin your brainstorming journey, you will have lots of scribbles on the walls and ton of random thoughts. In order to consolidate everything being thrown out, when an idea has value write it down on a Sticky Note. When the conversation is done you can eventually collect all of the Sticky Notes and have a decent outline of the major takeaways. Adding in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes will allow you to add even more structure to the chaotic process of ideation.

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3. Timer to keep track of time and tell you when to move on to the next thing.

One of the best tips I realized from endless conversations about design and functionality is that there is always a point at which no more productive work gets done. This applies for both meetings and discussions on particular topics. Whether you get distracted, go off topic, or simply arrive at an impasse, you need to be vigilant of your time and never let any one issue take up too much of a meeting. Furthermore, on a professional level, keeping a strict daily calendar and never showing up late or running over on phone call times will be a huge help to keep your life and creative thoughts in order.

4. Snacks to keep your energy up.

Most people have a hard time thinking on an empty stomach and usually, some dope snacks are the perfect thing to get the creative juices flowing. Google pushed forward the concept of companies providing high-quality food with their implementation of imported sashimi chefs and kombucha. This has really turned into a major trend and most employees are expecting similar perks. This means that a good selection of grub is not just pivotal for the quality of your work but also for the quality of your workers.

5. Arbor to document your business model canvas and user story ideas.

It’s 2016. Why are you still using Google Docs, Excel, or sticky notes to document your user stories? Arbor is a full-function feature management tool that streamlines the process of collecting, prioritizing, and executing on user stories and business model ideas. It’s a great tool to have in the ideation phase that takes the hassle out of keeping track of feature ideas.

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6. Get support from related websites and platforms.

There are many websites that can help you during the process of management and hosting right from the beginning (like how to start a blog or make a web publication) to the last step of your root. Take some ideas, learn from other webmasters’ experiences and start new projects.

7. Customer Interviews to have insight on your target audience.

The first rule of decision making when building an app? Don’t make the decisions. You should be getting as much info as possible from your customers, and when it comes to decisions on core functions and design elements, let the customers do the talking. Before (or during) your session, perform some customer interviews to get a sense of what users would want from your app.

8. Competitive Overview for role modeling.

A business that doesn’t understand its competition is a business doomed to failure. Come in with some background research on potential competitors and do a top-level competitive analysis to understand where your app could find its niche in the market.

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9. Pick a Decider and a Facilitator.

Having a democratically-run business sounds great, but true democracies are hard to come by in the real world. Aim for consensus agreements where possible, but have an appointed decider if you get stuck on an issue. You can always go back and change your mind later – the important thing right now is to keep the ideas flowing.

10. A box to throw all your phones in since you won’t be needing those.

Nothing kills creativity like a distraction. Have everyone in the room – seriously, everyone in the room – toss their phones in a bin for the session. This ensures that everyone is focused, dedicated, and giving their all to the road mapping session. That’s the way to get people truly collaborating so you can get the best work out of your team.

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Last Updated on November 3, 2020

20 Best Mac Apps for Productivity You Need in 2020

20 Best Mac Apps for Productivity You Need in 2020

Whether you use your Mac for work or just for your personal projects, you’ve likely found yourself wondering how to improve your productivity. There are only so many hours in a day, and so much mental stamina you can muster before you run out.

There are dozens of tricks you can use to improve your own productivity and outlook, but if you’re looking for a more objective, comprehensive fix, the best thing to do is equip your Mac with productivity apps designed to help you do more in less time.

This Lifehack-exclusive list has some of the best productivity apps to help you feel less tired, improve your energy, and ultimately help you get more done every day.

What Makes For the Best Productivity Apps?

Beyond productivity tips, there are dozens of productivity apps to choose from too. With that in mind, here are some of the core aspects of ideal productivity apps that have formed this list.

  • Non-intrusive – you want a productivity app to weave seamlessly into your workflow and not cause disruptions. From using the app to the overall display, it shouldn’t cause any interruptions.
  • Good interface – Again, you want to be able to use these apps easily and have them benefit you. The easier you can navigate around these apps, the better.
  • Fair pricing – Many of these have free trials that allow you a good chance to test before you buy. If you do decide to pay for it, the monthly pricing plans should be reasonable for what you are getting.

1. Todoist

    Available for all iOS devices, Todoist is a note-taking and organization app that can keep you on top of all your projects—both personal and professional.

    Its best features are all free to use, including browser extensions, task creation, and interactive boards you can use to organize all your notes.

    If you want to pay the optional $29 yearly fee, you can get even more advanced features like backups and automatic reminders. Even with the free version, you’ll stay far more organized.

    Download: Todoist

    2. 1Password

      You may not realize it, but you probably spend a ton of time recalling your passwords, especially if and when you forget one to an app you use on a regular basis.

      1Password is an app for Mac that saves and remembers all your passwords for you in one place, so you can access all your favorite sites with a single click.

      You’ll save time and keep all your accounts secure simultaneously. A personal plan is $2.99 per month.

      Download: 1Password

      3. Bear

        Bear is a unique kind of note-taking app designed to make it easier for Mac users to jot down notes on the go. With it, you can create to-do lists, give yourself reminders, and outline concepts for future brainstorming sessions.

        It comes with many different inline styles so you can customize your notes to your personal preferences, and remember the context in which you wrote them. The core version is free, with a $14.99 per year version available as well.

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        Download: Bear

        4. Hazel

          Hazel by noodlesoft is an automated organization tool designed for Mac that will help you automatically organize your files based on any custom rules you want to create.

          For example, you can set it to move untouched items from one folder into another folder labeled “action items” if they haven’t been addressed within a week. It can save you hours of organization over the course of a few weeks. A single license is a flat $32.

          Download: noodlesoft

          5. Alfred

            Alfred is an all-in-one app designed to save you time with Mac shortcuts and convenient custom actions. You can use it in a variety of ways.

            For example, you can access Alfred’s clipboard memory so you don’t copy and paste the same material over and over, or set up custom workflows to automate some of your most repetitive tasks.

            It’s a paid app, with multiple price points based on the features you desire.

            Download: Alfred

            6. TextExpander

              TextExpander does exactly what the name suggests; it allows you to type a short snippet of text, and expand that text automatically.

              For example, you can create a custom expansion that allows you to conjure a full paragraph you type repeatedly by simply typing a unique abbreviation. Once you get used to your custom combinations, you’ll spare your fingers from typing thousands of words.

              An individual account is $3.33 per month.

              Download: TextExpander

              7. Backblaze

                If you’ve ever experienced a crash, or theft of your Mac, you know how much time a system restore can cost you. You’ll spend hours replacing the files you lost, and lose thousands of files that are irreplaceable.

                Backblaze is an automated, inexpensive way to back up your entire Mac for just $5 a month.

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                Download: Backblaze

                8. Keyboard Maestro

                  Keyboard Maestro is an older app that still has the power to make your life easier. With it, you can automate any number of tasks based on a certain trigger (such as a hotkey combination, or an event like connecting to a wireless network). A single license only costs $36.

                  Download: Keyboard Maestro

                  9. Snagit

                    There are many applications for a good screen-capture app, whether you’re trying to illustrate a tech problem you have or just want to make an interesting meme. Snagit makes it easy, with built-in editing for both still images and video. A single license covers two machines, and costs $49.95.

                    Download: TechSmith/Snagit

                    10. Bartender

                      Bartender is the cleverly-named app that helps you clean up and organize all your menu bar icons. You can also access them quickly with keyboard shortcuts.

                      If you’re like most Mac users, those icons get cluttered quickly and stop you from working efficiently. It’s free to try for 4 weeks, after which you’ll need a $15 license.

                      Download: Bartender

                      11. Otter

                      Otter is the Mac app for the note taker who hates typing. It’s an intelligent voice-recognition system and note-taking app that will help you transcribe your conversations, keep notes during meetings, and even take contextual notes to yourself in your own time.

                      Best of all, it’s free to get started!

                      Download: Otter

                      12. Flux

                        Do you often find yourself feeling tired throughout the day, or feeling unable to get to sleep after a day of staring at your computer? That could be because of the unnatural blue light that radiates from your Mac.

                        Flux naturally adapts your display to emit light that matches the time of day, so you can sleep better and feel less tired. It’s also free!

                        Download: Flux

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                        13. PDFpen

                        If you deal with PDFs on a regular basis, you probably find yourself wishing for some kind of tool that can let you mark up those PDFs however you want. Without a dedicated app like PDFpen, this can be difficult.

                        PDFpen lets you edit PDFs in almost any conceivable way, giving you more power and saving you time. A single license is $74.95.

                        Download: Smile Software/PDFpen

                        14. OmniFocus

                          OmniFocus is all about task management. It has a clean interface that allows you to tag your tasks, schedule events, and even automate certain features.

                          It’s one of the most comprehensive solutions on the market, so there’s a bit of a learning curve to get the most out of it.

                          A standard license is $39.99, while the pro version is $79.99.

                          Download: OmniFocus

                          15. Franz

                            It’s tiring to switch between dozens of different chat programs like Facebook Messenger, Slack, and WhatsApp, whenever you want to have a conversation with a different contact.

                            Franz’s solution is simple; offer access to all these apps in one convenient package. And best of all, it’s completely open source.

                            Download: Franz

                            16. MindNode

                              If you’re the brainstorming type, you need an app like MindNode to help you efficiently organize your thoughts. There are dozens of tools you can use to connect ideas in a mind map, or simply jot down notes for future reference.

                              The core app is free, with in-app purchases available.

                              Download: MindNode

                              17. Focus

                                The internet is a wonderful thing, but it can be awfully distracting. And if you’re like the majority of us, you’ve interrupted work on a project because of some attention-grabbing site or bad online habit. That’s where Focus comes in.

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                                This app allows you to block the worst offenders with custom time limits and other constraints, so you can focus on the task at hand. A single license is $19.99.

                                Download: Focus

                                18. CleanMyMac

                                  Chances are, your Mac isn’t working as fast as it could, thanks to gigabytes of clutter and unnecessary files on your system. CleanMyMac helps you scan your Mac, monitor its health, and ultimately clean it up—so you can handle all your tasks that extra bit faster. A single license is $39.95.

                                  Download: CleanMyMac

                                  19. Grammarly

                                    A spelling error or grammatical mistake can cost you big time. It could be the source of a worse grade on a big paper, or compromise your credibility in the workplace. Thankfully, Grammarly can help you.

                                    This Mac-integrated writing assistant monitors all your writing and makes live corrections, so you’re alerted to your potential mistakes before they become permanent.

                                    A free version exists, but the premium version will cost you between $11 and $30 a month, depending on how you pay.

                                    Download: Grammarly

                                    Focus To Do

                                      Focus to-do is one of the top productivity apps for your iPhone around. It even has a desktop client that you can connect to effortlessly. The app is built around two things: the Pomodoro technique and task management. It achieves these things with amazing balance. All that you have to do is create a task and then set the timer right within the app itself.

                                      There is also great flexibility with the Pomodoro technique as well. You can choose whether to take a 5 minute break, take a longer one, or even skip it. On the task management side, you can also create reoccurring tasks, reminders, and place a priority on tasks too.

                                      Download: Focus To Do

                                      The Bottom Line

                                      These productivity apps should help you squeeze more productive hours out of every day, but they aren’t the only tools you’ll have to help you find success.

                                      Make the time to learn about and experiment with all the life hacks that can make you more productive. By improving your devices as well as your outlook and focus, you’ll be able to get far more done in a day, and feel better doing it.

                                      More to Boost Productivity

                                      Featured photo credit: Patrick Ward via unsplash.com

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