A pair of Tampa-based tech entrepreneurs have built a growing startup from a shared vision to build “the best place to write things down.”
Launched in 2021, the Twos app has a 1,200 percent user growth rate this year and recently received a $1.4 million investment from startup investment fund TampaBay.Ventures. The “Twos guys,” co-founders Parker Klein, a former Google engineer and the tech guru behind the idea for the app, and Joe Steilberg, who handles marketing and sales, met and became friends at a tech startup in Austin, Texas. They shared the practice of writing things down- reminders, to-do lists, goals - and decided to develop an app to capture and organize the information people need in their daily lives in an easy-to-use format.
Klein says years ago, during an internship, a boss instructed him to write down his job responsibilities and accomplishments to reference in future job interviews.
“I really took that to heart and started doing it,” he recalls. “It went beyond just what I was doing at work. It was really my job, how I was feeling, things I was doing on a day-to-day basis. I just found a lot of value in capturing things and writing things down. Eventually, that came to a product that would allow people to privately capture anything, but be able to share those things to connect with other people. That was the original idea. Now, we’ve basically simplified it to capturing and organizing things in your daily life. But, we’ll soon be having more of the collaboration and connection.”
Steilberg has attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and says that, on the advice of his father after college graduation, he adopted the practice of writing down things he had to remember.
“I had struggled with ADHD most of my life so I called him emphasizing that life comes at you pretty fast after college,” he says. “From that moment on, I bought red and black notebooks and saw the benefits of being able to dump my thoughts on a page. My thoughts, my to-dos, my reminders, people’s names.”
Twos app users can make and organize work and personal to-do lists, set reminders and notifications, add events to calendars and planners and write notes about their activities on a specific day. Users can also write down details they may otherwise forget, like the name of a friend’s spouse, in an easily searchable format.
Steilberg says two features stand out with many current users: an auto-detect capability that asks if they would like to receive a reminder for things on a to-do list and an “auto-carryover” of any unfinished business on a to-do list. If you don’t check an item off, it automatically reappears the next time you open the app.
Right now, Twos has about 13,000 users. Klein and Steilberg’s focus is on relaunching the social side of the app “Twos World,” as a place for users to see what their connections and people across the app have shared and to share things of their own, such as recipes, travel itineraries, top-10 lists and recommendations.
Klein says they feel the private and public-facing features set the app apart.
“We really do feel like we are on to something massive here,” he says. “We think we’re doing something that no other platform has done with this private and social capacity. A lot of it is ready, we’re just getting the word out there. A lot of the (investment) money will go toward marketing and establishing the brand.”
The two sides of the app - part public, part private - are the original inspiration for the name Twos. But Steilberg and Klein have enjoyed making an ever-evolving marketing game out of their chosen moniker.
The app’s social feature includes a peace sign similar to Facebook’s thumbs-up icon for liking a post. They’ve worked to rebrand giving the peace sign as “throwing twos” or “twosing.” Besides describing themselves as “the Twos guys” behind the app, they say it's their goal to take the company “Twos the moon” and describe every day as “Twos” day, or a good day for writing things down.
On their entrepreneurial journey, Klein and Steilberg have had significant support from Tampa Bay’s tech ecosystem. They originally worked out of Embarc Collective. They're part of Tampa Bay Wave’s CORE program, which offers tech startups ongoing mentorship, peer support and access to investors. Twos is currently located at the John P. Lowth Entrepreneurship Center at the University of Tampa Sykes College of Business. There, they have dedicated office space and access to regular programming on issues related to entrepreneurship like marketing, sales and finance.
Steilberg says the relationship with UT gives them access to talent and college students who are a target demographic for their app. He says the app also resonates with users who have ADHD or obsessive compulsive disorder and may experience cognitive impairment. He points to his own experience.
“Focus is always a constant burden as it relates to ADHD,” Steilberg days. “So the process of actually putting mental emphasis on something you need to do through the process of writing it down makes a drastic improvement compared to trying to keep it all up in your mind and organize it as the day goes along. But it’s also the quick capture. Paper was my primary tool of use because it was the quickest way to write something down. Anyone who has ADHD, I think they can relate. As soon as you have an idea, it’s like a burning sensation in your mind until you’re either able to tell somebody about it or capture it in some capacity. It still happens to me until this day. And so we are building Twos on three core virtues: speed, ease and organization. That effectively has resonated really really well with people who do have cognitive impairments between ADHD, OCD and even depression. This seems to be resonating with people who just need a very quick place to get things off of their mind in a minimalist and organized way.”
For more information go to Twos app.