Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams and his friend, Quin Harker, had better things to do than manually transfer their kids’ game schedules sent by coaches. So they created a free tool for schedule updates called CalendarTree – an “incredibly stimulating” process that Adams told VentureBeat can be expected to show up in his comic strip.
They conceived the software — now in its “first publicized beta” — while standing in the back of a high school volleyball awards banquet in 2011 instead of listening to the interminable speeches and the handing out of honors.
“I have two stepkids, and [Quin] has three children,” Adams told us, “and we would get email with a text list of the games from the coach.” Their wives entered the list into their computers’ calendars, Adams said, while the husbands wondered, “Why can’t I just click a link and add the schedule?”
Adams, who has done some software programming, acknowledges that an online calendar user could ask others to sync up, but it involves multiple steps. “You don’t want to turn into tech support,” he said.
The idea was implemented by Blue Chilli, an Australian-based venture technology shop that invests its technical skills into startup ideas in exchange for equity. Adams found them by posting a request for a developer on his blog.
‘Geekiest person in the world’
This particular idea probably had a few heads Down Under nodding in recognition of the problem-to-be-solved.
Parents understand that managing multiple game and practice schedules for multiple children with continuously evolving school and social schedules remains one of humanity’s greatest challenges. And those without kids similarly understand the multivariable flowcharts embodied in many calendars.
Instead of multiple steps and possible snafus, Adams and Harker envisioned a tool where you create your schedule, and then you share a link.
When clicked, the link prompts for calendar type and then adds the schedule to your calendar. (It supports calendars from Google, Apple or Microsoft Outlook.) No signups are required, and any change to the schedule automatically updates each connected calendar. An email lets the calendar owner know when changes occur.
Up to 50 connected calendars, there’s no cost for CalendarTree. Above that, you need an annual subscription.
Will he undertake another software product?
“I probably will,” Adams said. “[This process was] just the greatest experience. I love business models, and I’m the geekiest person in the world.”
He admitted that the next problem to be solved “probably won’t be world hunger, [but will probably involve] things are that unnecessarily annoying.” Which, given that Dilbert lives in a world full of things that are unnecessarily annoying, could mean a pretty long product line.
VentureBeat’s VB Insight team is studying email marketing tools.
Chime in here, and we’ll share the results