There are plenty of productivity and self-motivation apps on the market, but Hong Kong-based company Innopage wanted to create one that lets users indulge their whimsical side. iOS app Carrot‘s interface only allows you to fill-in a simple template and people have used the Mad Libs-like format to set goal and reward sets (called “carrots”) that are silly (“I am going to wake up at 6:30AM and reward myself with going back to sleep at 6:45AM”) and serious (“If I run 4.5km tonight then I will treat myself to a big breakfast tomorrow”). Encouragement is crowdsourced from Carrot’s other users and your Facebook friends.
“Carrot” is a reference to “stick and carrot”–the phrase that distills the two ways that people can be motivated, either by force or by will–and Innopage is not the only one to have jumped on the idea that it might make for a catchy name for a motivational to-do app. There is another Carrot already in existence in the U.S. that barks reminders at users. Innopage CEO Keith Li told me that he wasn’t aware of the other Carrot app when his team named their app, but developer Brian Mueller says he’s considering alternatives for how to get Innopage to refrain from using the same name for a similar service. In the meantime, his app has seen over 500,000 downloads and he’s gearing up — coincidentally, today — to launch a new version of his Carrot app with a gamification system.
Instead of setting reminders for unfinished tasks, Innopage’s Carrot focuses on creating “positive feelings” for users by encouraging them to set specific, short-term goals.
“I never use a to-do list because I find it so stressful when I look at the whole list,” says Li. “I want to focus on rewards, which are not usually included in to-do lists. We don’t want to keep looking at things we haven’t done yet.”
One of Carrot’s niftiest features is its aggregated, anonymous lists of other people’s objectives and rewards. When I logged on recently, goals ranged from “get a nose job” to “benchpress 100kg,” while rewards included “buy a $25 iTunes card” and “browse 9GAG.”
As Carrot gains more users, its lists of the most popular goals and rewards can potentially provide useful data for brands and marketing agencies. Li says that updates to the app will allow groups of users to create private entries and contribute money to purchase gift certificates or deals from sponsors.
“We want to implement a system where you can set goals for friends or children and give them an award or have your family chip in for a reward,” says Li. “You can also have a group of friends share the same goal and see who accomplishes it first.”
Since launching earlier this month, Carrot has seen the most traction in China, where 39% of its current registered users are from. The app’s latest update added integration with Sina Weibo accounts and plans are also in the works to include WeChat sign-ins.
Carrot is the first app from Innopage, which develops e-publishing projects for clients including the Hong Kong government, Samsung Mobile and the City University Press. Li says Innopage’s team recently launched Innolab, acompany intitiative similar to Google’s 20% time, to start developing its own products when they realized the e-publishing industry had plateaued. Innolab’s projects, including Carrot, are currently self-funded.