The backstory on Pombox - Why we decided to create a Pomodoro smartphone lockbox

We've always been big on investing in own personal development.

Whether that's through books, blogs, podcasts, TED talks, mentorship, or even seminars; we are just pretty fanatic about growth and becoming a better person each day. 

During college and even before that, we've had a couple startup stints; lawn care, a snowcone stand, iPhone screen repair business, and a spray paint curb address business. Some successful, some not so much.

Basically, we realized that we were tired of thinking up these multi-billion dollar ideas that seemed technologically impossible with our background and skill level, and just do something that was within our skill level, had a tangible impact, and build a product that aligned with our values. 

We ran through a couple, but one that stood out was a solution to our excessive smartphone use. 

It was a problem that most "young folk" would be familiar with - losing sleep because of phone use, being less productive in the workspace, not being present or intentional with friends and family, having difficulty staying focused and concentrated, and ultimately a lower quality of life. 

We tried many of the apps. We tried putting the phone in a different room. We tried turning our devices off and utilizing airplane mode. We tried the buddy system. While they seemed to work for a bit, there remained a high requirement of willpower to choose not to go in the other room, not to override the apps, not to turn back on our devices, or simply not having that accountability partner to hold your phone.

Plain and simple, we needed something that would overrule our deeply ingrained tech habits. We thought "if the phone is the problem, we should take the phone entirely out of the equation". Out of sight. Out of mind.

No apps. No softwares. We knew it needed to be out of our visual landscape and completely inaccessible if it were to be effective with us. 

We liked the idea of simplicity. We believe that there is an elegance in simplicity, so we decided it would harness some very core features. Nothing more.

So we built out the cheapest cardboard prototype of what we envisioned and tacked together an Arduino system to allow us to autonomously lock our devices without needing another individual to act as the "jailor". This was huge - allowed us to practice moderation at our own will. 

What we found to be most important and interesting was that our prototype allowed us to put away our devices when our intentions were the best, highest, and most pure. It's almost like New Years resolutions - on January 1st, you have the willpower, motivation, and clarity of thought to know what's best for you and your goals. Pombox essentially removed the willpower out of the equation, so you just need a couple seconds to put your phone away and set the lock timer. No more willpower struggles. No more second thoughts. It's done. 

While we cherished our cardboard and duct tape jerry-rigged device that closely resembled an explosive device (I brought it inside a Starbucks once... that was the first and last time I made that mistake), we needed something better.

We whipped up some 3D printed models at the local Dallas Makerspace, and quickly we realized that the solution we made to scratch our own itch, was a problem that is very prevalent in many others. 

Many friends asked about the device - "can I get one of those", "I need one of those for studying", "I need one of those for my teenager/kid". The responses were pretty clear that we were attacking a problem that affected others aside from ourselves. 

So we made iteration, after iteration, after iteration. Up until the Kickstarter launch, we've made 28 versions thus far. And there is still more revisions and changes that we would like to make, but we know that perfection can be overdone. 

Nonetheless, it's been an interesting journey. Many late nights. Many frustrations. Many times we questioned our intelligence for such a simple electronic product. 

Now that we have the product somewhat down, this is truly square one. We hope to be another voice of reason in a digitally distracted world. 

Our goal is ultimately to help people to spend less time on their devices, less time on social media, and less time living a false & unfulfilling life. 

We want people to spend more time with those they love. We want people to spend more time working in a focused and concentrated manner on the things that will yield a better life. We want people to sleep soundly and wake up in a more natural and healthy manner. We want students to make better grades and open up doors to a brighter future. 

We want to bring back balance, reality, and a sense of peace of mind in a tech obsessed era. 


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