Xipu Li

Shit, My Co-Founder has Raging ADHD

Building a startup with an ADHD co-founder can be a rollercoaster ride of blessings and bliss. Here's what happened.

5 min read

Date : 2023-08-25

Raging ADHD It all began at an AI hackathon in the foggy wonderland of San Francisco. There I was, clutching my laptop like a lifeline, surrounded by the techiest bros, and then I met my co-founder. We were kindred spirits, united by a shared vision of conquering the consumer wellness space with our AI motivational speech app.

In those initial moments, I thought I'd hit the jackpot. My co-founder was like a human energy drink, and I was riding that wave of optimism. It felt like I had found the secret sauce to perpetual motivation.

But, here's the proverbial twist in the plot - that endless enthusiasm? Well, it started to feel like I was working with a human version of ChatGPT with a maxed-out temperature that doesn't know how to stop.

He could not stop talking. He could not stop thinking. He could not stop coming up with new ideas. He could not get shit done.

For our motivation speech app, he kept coming up with new ideas for new features. He kept coming up with new ideas for the UI. He kept coming up with new ideas for how we could monetize it. He kept coming up with new ideas for how we could market it when the app was basically an input field and a submit button that, upon click, set off an equal amount of bugs as my co-founder's ideas.

Ideas are vital to a startup, but they're also a dime a dozen. The real work is in the execution. And that's where my co-founder's brain started to become a problem. He'd get distracted by the next shiny object, and I'd be left to pick up the pieces. I'd have to remind him of the tasks he'd committed to. I'd have to keep him on track. I'd have to be the one to say no to his new ideas.

It was exhausting. I felt like I was the parent of a toddler.

Working with my co-founder was like being strapped to a rocket ship that continually veered off course. It was thrilling and terrifying.

The Pivot to ADHD Productivity

It all made sense when his doctor pronounced him with "raging ADHD". It was a relief to finally have a name for it, but we were not progressing with our startups, even though he was still hyped up daily.

We realized that we were just building a "wow" prodcut that doesn't actually solve any problem.

We had to pivot.

We began focusing not on the average consumer, but on the unique breed of humans like my co-founder - those blessed with the raging ADHD that leads to a tornado of ideas.

Doubling down on helping ADHD people focus was probably the best decision we made. My co-founder announced this new journey on LinkedIn and found himself overbooked with people who resonate.

Clearly, this was an acute problem.

No One Gives a Shit about ADHDers

We started researching the market. And holy shit, there're ZERO productivity tools tailored for ADHDers.

Literally every productivity tool out there was designed to decrease your productivity. The cluttered UI with bullshit features shouted B2B, not B2ADHD.

A Google search for ADHD productivity tools gives you a bunch of "5 best..." or "top 10..." low-effort articles that recommend solutions that were repeatedly marked as "doesn't work" on r/ADHD.

We conducted many user interviews to find that many of them use Excel or physical paper as alternatives. In 2023!

Our Answer to ADHD

That's how our product, Complish, was born. I wouldn't call us a tech company. We are more of a design company that innovates the interface from scratch.

We want our users to focus on one task at a time and feel rewarded when completing a task.

This is how existing apps look:

Other productivity apps
Them (ClickUp, Asana, Todoist, Google Calendar, Taskade, Sunsama)

And this is us:

Other productivity apps

We hide away all unnecessary information and only show the task at hand. We also use heavy animation to trigger that dopamine hit for ADHDers.

It's tailored for the dreamers, the innovators, and yes, the slightly chaotic minds that see a world full of possibilities. Our goal is to harness that energy, help them focus, and guide them towards accomplishing their goals. Because as I've learned, there's a thin line between chaos and brilliance. And sometimes, you need a little bit of both to truly innovate.

Ok, if you have ADHD and want to get things done, just try it out. I will stop writing because your ADHD mind is probably already wandering off. Here's the link: Complish.

If you are still reading, join our Discord, where you can make an actual impact to the world by helping us bring hyperfocus to ADHDers.