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Productive People, Reach Your Goal or Pay Up

Productive People, Reach Your Goal or Pay Up
Arts & Culture

An entrepreneur's new site invites procrastinators to pay ransom for their bad habits

Janet Burns
  • 9 october 2014

A new website offers a unique service that may appeal to the productivity-hungry: if you publicly set and achieve a goal, and the service is free; if you fail, you pay (the developer) through your sorry nose.

Go Fucking Do It wants you to either achieve your goals or literally pay the price; a user signs up, declares a specific aspiration, chooses an amount to wager on their successful completion of the task, finds a buddy to report on their success (or the lack thereof), enters their credit card info, and gets to work. Upon their failure to complete the stated task, the user’s credit card is charged the agreed-upon amount, and the funds feed the website.

Users and observers have frequently suggested that the money might be better spent — and thereby make the program more effective — if directed toward a charity, or even the user’s supervisory buddy. However, the website — which reported pledges totalling $30,000 within its first month — maintains that users will be less motivated to achieve their goals if they believe the money is going to a ‘good cause.’

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Reactions to this site understandably center on wondering who will engage this service, but also who is providing it. The creator of this possibly motivational, probably profitable platform is @levelsio (he prefers tweets to emails for contact purposes), who likes to “work from anywhere [and] bootstrap companies” with the help and comfort of only “what fits in [his] backpack.” He describes his launching of Go Fucking Do It as being part of his own battle to produce more:

To reduce procrastination and become faster at launching my projects, I’ve set the goal to launch 12 startups in 12 months. A month after every launch, I do a debriefing on how it went. Last month, I launched my second project, Go Fucking Do It (GFDI), which lets you set a goal and charges your card if you don’t reach it.

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His debriefing on the GFDI project gives useful insight into the process behind the start-up’s development, launch, and perceived successes. After creating the platform and trying to stir up media attention, he explains, he quickly gained exposure for the project: “TheNextWeb covered it! Yay, I woke up to this superhappy!” This coverage “made it go viral” and led to the platform being picked up by “big sites like Design Taxi, Cool Hunting and the very suiting FuckingHomepage.com. Later it even hit Wired and featured on AppSumo. At this point, Twitter users started hash-tagging GFDI and tweeting challenges to one another, and the platform became well-known enough that buy-out offers and reality TV show proposals started rolling in.

Rhizome, an art and tech blog, also saw fit at this point to release a comprehensive and thoughtfully scathing review of the site, which GFDI’s creator regarded as “one fun part of this [process]” and thought “from a certain perspective was quite on-point and valid:”

Go Fucking Do It is not only the name of the app but also a mantra for a brogrammer ethos that disguises its own privilege in Emersonian auto-didacticism. It is here where everyone is an entrepreneur-in-waiting; free to move, self-directed, emancipated from state or institutional constraints, limited only by their own loathsome inability to self-manifest infinitely achievable personal goals.

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Since the dust from the launch settled, however, @levelsio has been forthcoming with his own criticism of the site, if only from an economic standpoint. His data revealed that the most popular set goals involved (in order) fitness, tech, writing, learning, and love, and that the average price set for an individual’s goal was $78.54. He noted that 1% of the site’s visitors ended up setting a goal for themselves and supplying their credit card information, but that this is a “pretty average conversion rate for most sites that require payment.”

Of those that did enroll in the program, 84% were reported by their supervisors as having achieved their set goals, but @levelsio was dismayed to discover that 55% of all proposed goals were never fully registered because the goal-seekers’ chosen supervisors were not responding to (or presumably reading) the email from GFDI.

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The final result of these calculations is that only 1% of goal-seekers game to “do it” (or pay) ended up being charged. The site currently claims that 462 users have pledged a total of $41,368, meaning @levelsio may have already personally received as much as $413.68 for his work on the project (which, he said, he “shipped very fast”). While @levelsio may have already received a substantial amount of money from eager procrastinators, he admits the platform is not currently capable of supporting him:

So for this model to make ~$2000 per month, it’d have to be scaled up to get 250,000 visits per month, with 2,500 people converting, and 25 people failing. That’s only about 10x what it’s at now. Still a challenge. Apart from the failures, there’s more monetization options here. The business model itself didn’t get enough people in though to make it an actual business yet (e.g. running $2k+/m). But we might still get there in the coming months. Any feedback is super welcome!

What say you?

Go Fucking Do It

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