Introducing The Contraption Company

The Contraption Company is a product development studio that crafts dependable software tools.

Today I’m introducing my new business, The Contraption Company - a product studio building dependable software tools for online work.

Slow growth makes steady progress

In the past, I’ve built VC-backed startups like Moonlight and Staffjoy. For these companies, we worked hard to build a community of customers. But, over time, these businesses either shut down or were acquired. Startups must grow fast to continue existing.

Slow growth is under-appreciated. Traction compounds over time for businesses with recurring revenue as long as you’ve built something people want. As the brand grows, you naturally end up with more traffic and higher conversions. Staffjoy is an example of this - even though the business shut down seven years ago, the website now gets more traffic than it did when the company was active.

A focus on dependability

“Cool project, but I’m not going to switch to it if you’re just going to shut it down in a year.”

This is a common sentiment I hear from people when I tell them about a new product I’m working on. And, it’s fair. currently lists 275 different products that Google shut down.

The technology industry has trained its customers to be skeptical.

  • That “free” plan? It could be selling your data.
  • That new product you’ve deeply integrated into your life? They might raise prices in a year.
  • Signed up for a new app? Prepare for an onslaught of emails and notifications.
  • Have a problem? Publicly pleading for help on Twitter may be the only way to get a human response.

I want to build products that people can rely on, and this is why the core focus for Contraption Co. is dependability.

Here’s what dependability means to me:

  • Simple, reliable tools: We build for the long term. We will maintain products that have customers.
  • Explicit business models: We don’t sell your data. We won’t price gouge you.
  • Utility, not noise: We build calm products. We don’t bother you with constant notifications or annoying emails.
  • Support from humans: We have real people who answer your questions and fix problems.

Helping people work online

When we started Moonlight in 2017 to help engineers work remotely, distributed work was still a fringe concept. The pandemic accelerated a transformation of the modern workplace. But, new problems emerged - with Zoom fatigue plaguing workers and mouse jigglers becoming a standard tool.

Contraption Co. focuses on building products that help people work online. Society still applies factory-like work practices to knowledge work, and we need to challenge those norms. We’re only just learning to work online and need tools for better collaboration, communication, and time management.

More news coming soon

A product studio structure means that Contraption Co. is separate from its products - modeled after companies like 37Signals, Wildfire, and prehype.

My goal for the company is longevity. If a product fails, the company will still be around. As long as a product has customers, the company can maintain it. I want to build this company long-term, with people aligned on a similar mission.

Stay tuned - I’m launching the first product next week. Subscribe below to get notified when it’s ready.

- Philip

Those of us with business ideas? We need a company.

Not for the money, but because it’s our place to experiment, create, and turn thoughts into reality. We need to pursue our intrinsic motivation.

We have so many interesting ideas and theories. We need to try them!

The happiest people are not lounging on beaches. They’re engaged in interesting work!

- Derek Sivers

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