This is the February 2020 update for Muse, a tool for thought on iPad.

The newsletter covers ways of working, knowledge tools, inspiring books, and other topics of interest to thoughtful and curious professionals like you.

building an independent business · undo ink · Saskia Freeke’s playful ways to grow · two-handed card carry · artisan axes

Muse icon

Hello thoughtful builders,

The Muse team has spent a lot of time thinking about the kind of company we want to be.

In my career, I’ve been part of fast-growth, venture-backed startups that thrive on tech-press hype and Silicon Valley prestige, where the unstated goal is successively larger funding valuations rather than happy customers and a sustainable business.

I’ve also done the bootstrapper hustle: work a job or consulting gigs to pay the bills, squeeze in work on your product and business on evenings and weekends, burning the candle at both ends for years to get your business off the ground.

illustration of tablet internals

For Muse we’re trying a third path. We’ve taken a small amount of seed funding from the lovely Harrison Metal and a few supportive angels. It’s our intention this will be the only funding we ever take, and to use it to reach break-even revenue as soon as we can.

Ultimately this matters to you, a potential customer of Muse, because a sustainable business not dependent on funding outside of customer revenue means you can count on Muse existing, continuing to improve, and being focused on your needs for many years to come.

Happy musing,

New in Muse

At last: you can undo inking and erasing.

undo ink in Muse

This was a huge engineering effort, because it required switching the ink rendering from raster to vector. It paves the way for other benefits like ink that scales smoothly between device sizes.

Speaking of engineering: we’re hiring.

Maker spotlight: Saskia Freeke

Multi-disciplinary creator Saskia Freeke lectures at universities, creates freestanding physical art pieces, and freelances in interaction design. But what grabbed my attention is her approach to generative art: a new piece every day.

samples of Freeke's art

One of our values at Muse is lifelong learning and personal growth. Saskia uses a unique approach for this: challenging herself to make a small new experiment every day for two years. She explains:

I think it’s important to approach creating new things in playful ways, let yourself discover and explore. Then you will grow.

Muse tip: carry cards

Phone use has trained us that touchscreens are normally used with only one hand at a time. One of Muse’s design goals is to make use of both hands for a more expressive gesture space.

One example of this that I personally use daily is the ”carry a card“ approach.

carrying a card into a Muse board

Start dragging one (or more) cards with a finger on one hand; then use the other hand to pinch in/out or scroll to navigate where you want the card.

Just for fun: artisan axes

Beautifully-written article about a totally real phenomenon: Our Lives in the Time of Extremely Fancy Axes.

Throwers are another circle in the Venn diagram of modern ax consumers, joining collectors and restorers, survivalists and bushcrafters, aesthetes, and that circle of fancy cabin owners, weekend warriors and suburban pioneers who aspire to chop firewood not because they’ll freeze to death if they don’t, but because they find it meditative, or because it offers a sense of physical purpose in a very digital world, or because controlling the supply chain is so hot right now.

an artisan ax

American Felling Axe by Peter Buchanan-Smith