Moment is an iOS app that automatically tracks how much you use your iPhone and iPad each day. If you’re using your phone too much, you can set daily limits on yourself and be notified when you go over. You can even force yourself off your device when you’re over your limit.
Introducing Moment Family: Track your family’s use from your own iPhone and set up time for your entire family to be screen-free using family dinner time.
Kevin Holesh is the creator of Moment App. Based in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, Kevin came to the realisation that he had been using his smartphone far too much and that encouraged him to make the idea of Moment a reality. We were lucky to be able to have a chat with Kevin to hear his story.
LS: We’re here to talk about your amazing app, Moment.
KH: Thankyou for calling it amazing.
LS: It’s definitely an app that people need right now.
KH: Yes that’s kind of the reason I built it. It seems like a problem that is getting worse in general especially with my friends and family. Smartphones have kind of taken over, filling ordinarily what would have been silence, a conversation or reading a book. You can literally do anything on a smartphone now. We are so reliant on them, one specific example: people complain that moment uses their time whilst using their gps for directions, you don’t even know where you’re going, you just open up your phone and follow, still not paying attention to where you’re going and you still manage to get lost on them even when it is hand feeding you the directions.
LS: The main reason you started the app was to control your own usage during the day?
KH: I used to build websites so I worked on a computer all day and therefore transitioned into iPhone apps. I used to use that as an excuse, to keep up with the latest technology and design news and trends etc. I used that as a kind of crutch. I literally work on moment all day now and I’ve been able to get my phone use down to 90mins a weekday, and on weekends 10-20 mins. It’s great for me to track my progress with moment.
LS: What was your initial usage before?
KH: My initial use was 140 mins (2hr20mins weekday, 70 mins weekend mainly wasting time on twitter.
LS: Social media is now a job so people actually have reason to be on their smartphone all day.
KH: Thats why i built moment, to be non-judgemental as everyone’s limit is different. I defaulted it to a 60 mins a day average and then had a message from a video game QA tester saying he spends 6 hrs a day on his phone and Moment has helped him realise this and now when he reaches the 6hr limit he knows not to spend more time doing it in the evening. Everyones limit and use for their iPhone is different, I didn’t build moment to pass judgement on you, if you spend over 80 mins each day you are not a phone addict. That’s not really the goal.
LS: You’re not saying, get rid of your phone, get rid of technology, you’re just saying learn to use it in moderation?
KH: Yes exactly, moderation is the perfect word. It’s impulsive when you are bored for a second/have idle time you pull out your phone and check email or whatever. It’s controlling that impulse that is difficult.
LS: So you solely work on the app now?
KH: It took off faster than I’ve ever had a project take off. I literally launched in late June of 2014 and then the very next day it was featured in TechCrunch which brought a ton of traffic to it so I’ve been working on it since then.
LS: And do you have a team of people yet or is it still just yourself?
KH: Just me! I haven’t got to the point where I can build a team around it. It’s a small simple application and I kind of want to keep it that way. Every other app wants you to use it and engage with it. I am the opposite, I want to get that number down. I don’t want people physically using moment .
LS: Do you have plans for expanding?
KH: I do have some plans, I’m working on a few features for families around the idea of parents managing their kids time on their phone or iPads. Setting up limits and working with them on that. I don’t have kids myself, but the kids I do know and from the parents that have written in, that seems to be a huge problem as well. It’s a problem that just needs addressed.
LS: In fact, just the other day we saw a family out for lunch and instead of the child being on her phone of iPad they were all playing a game of UNO. It’s so rare and refreshing to see nowadays.
KH: Exactly, the memories I have of my childhood are of us playing boardgames or running around outside, not comparing Instagram likes. It’s a different world and it’s changing fairly quickly.
LS: Do you ever have anyone challenging you about the app?
KH: Sure, At the face of it, ‘You’re on your phone too much, download this app and it will fix it’ makes it sound really stupid. No app is going to force any kind of change upon you, it’s not going to physically lock you out of the device and put up these barriers around it. If you want to get on your iPhone you can, it’s more about wanting to make that change in your own life. Some people get it, some people don’t. Most of the feedback has been very positive though.
LS: As you say, if anything, it’s just making people aware of how much they are using their phone.
KH: I’ve had a few people write in somewhat angrily at me as if I’m causing them to use their phone for 3 hours a day.
LS: How long did it take you from start to finish?
KH: I worked on the app for 6 months before I launched it, just on the side, nights and weekends and then it took a while to get it approved by Apple, just by the way I’m doing certain things (3 or 4 months) and then once it was approved I got it out there as soon as I could.
LS: Is there anything that has brought out your dark side throughout it all?
KH: That’s a great question first of all, I think the thing that has been the toughest and has made me the most unhappy working on this is that its been hard to take the negative feedback , even though it’s been in the minority, that 10% of negativity really sticks with me versus the 90% of parents that tell me how much it’s changed their children’s usage. I usually just go for a run, try not to think about it and move on. Before I started Moment I was proud of having a thick skin but it’s made me realise I don’t have quite as tough skin as I thought I did, but I’m getting better at separating the negative feedback from my personal life. I’ve learned a lot in the past few months that I’ve been doing it.
LS: What do you nail in leadership?
KH: I can’t speak from a CEO perspective where I have employees, but I can say that I launched Moment with a small article just detailing my own problems that we started off talking about like, ‘I’d spend too much time on my phone before I went to bed’, admitting I had a problem with my iPhone and sort of detailing the steps that i took to fix it with using Moment as a tool to do that. I think that helped a lot of people at least soften the blow of ‘hey i might be a phone addict too but this guy has helped fix it himself so i can do it too.’
LS: How do you motivate yourself and inspire yourself to keep going?
KH: With my own phone use it’s still stuff. I’ve been using Moment for 8 months now while it’s been in development but i still struggle with those moments where you are tempted to take out your phone. It’s tough but I’m getting there. I’ve gotten better at taking a breath when I feel that impulse.
LS: What do you do to create the balance between being on your phone and when you’re not?
KH: Part of it is the limit I have on my phone use per-day but its also just realising the opportunity cost of being on my phone, so ‘What else could I be doing if I wasn’t on my phone?’ talking with my wife, cooking a nice dinner, going for a run with my dogs, going for a hike or reading a book, that kind of thing. I’ve replaced reading my twitter for 20 mins before bed with reading a book. It’s still occupying my brain.
LS: Do you feel that by limiting it you have missed out at all or do you feel better for it?
KH: No I definitely feel better for it. There’s always that far of missing out, that’s why I used to check twitter impulsively. I’m now ok with missing an 8 hour chunk of tweets so it’s a process but I’m getting over it.
LS: Especially when we never used to have it so we can live without it.
KH: There was a time before the internet.
LS:How many download are you currently sitting at?
KH: I launched it in June and it was free for a few days so I got the majority of my users from that period and I’ve been charging since then. It’s in the hundreds of thousands. Not a million yet but hopefully the family type features will help push it. It’s been easily the most successful project I’ve ever worked on. And it was instantly successful which I had never experienced but the response just told me that I had hit a sore spot in the market, there was definitely a need for this that wasn’t being addressed. It tells me I’m on the right track when I get that response.
LS: Do you notice much difference between working for yourself and having worked for somebody?
KH: It’s great. I’ve been a freelance web-developed for a couple of clients at a time but even that sort of relationship, I’ve always worked from home, worked my own hours but working for a client is still the same as having a boss and at the end of the day they get the final call on the certain design decisions or what features to build whereas if I was running a project I would run it differently so Moments been my muse in that way. You know, I have complete control over it, I can take it in whatever direction I want to and that’s very fulfilling to me. I’ve sort of been working up to it my whole life, I love working for myself, it’s challenging at times and theres a few downsides to it but the upside of being able to do what I want for the app outweighs the negatives and even the negatives aren’t that bad. I get to make all the decisions but also I can’t offload the work I don’t war to do to someone else, it’s all on my shoulders.
LS: How would you describe yourself in three words?
KH: Independent, passionate (not in the romantic sense), outdoorsy (I love to be outside when I can, skiing, hiking, camping, fishing). Opposite of being at a computer all day, I like both.
LS: Who has been you’re biggest inspiration?
KH: One name, sticks in my mind, his name was Ron Morris. I say ‘was’ because he sadly passed away a few years ago. I went to university to study Entrepreneurship and Ron was in charge of the department for Entrepreneurship. I learned a lot from his classes.The classes I had with him, compared to the others I took taught me so much. He’s helped guide everything I do with the projects I work on and how I handle the business side and he definitely taught me everything I know. He was a great guy, had a very successful life and there was a lot to learn from him.
LS: What are you certain about?
KH: What I’m doing day to day, being in charge of a product which is Moment for now. Being that vision for the product but also not being afraid to build the product too. I’ll come up with the idea and make it a reality.
LS: What is your lucky something that’s been with you?
KH: My fiancé at the time it all started, we recently got married. She’s definitely been there the whole way, encouraging me when I needed it and talking through any issues that I had.
LS: She’s your rock.
KH: I didn’t want to say that because it sounds too cliche but yes, she’s my rock.
Kevin is someone who had an idea, a vision and he turned it into a reality. He is proof that dreams can come true. If you want something enough, just do it.
To read more about Moment App visit it here: inthemoment.io
Keep in touch monthly (or even more frequently with us*).
* We promise not to virtually stalk you, it will be (at max) weekly round ups and elements that it would be rude not to tell you about...