How do you find your company’s voice and stand out between all the other businesses trying to talk to your customers?

As your company starts to take shape, and you’re creating a logo, a website, business cards, email newsletters, or any other written text, you slowly will start to discover your company’s tone of voice.

It’s important for you and your co-founders to be aware of your company’s tone of voice so that you can keep it consistent across all written mediums, and across text written by different team members. This of course becomes even more challenging as your team grows.

A consistent tone of voice gives your company a unique identity, which will help your customers recognise your company and…

Tags in the task manager app Things seem very minimal and simplistic at first sight because of the minimalist UI, but there are a lot of handy ways to apply them to better manage your tasks and schedule your days.

Here are some of the ways in which I apply them to my personal to-do list.

Time Estimations

One of my main uses for tags is to set time estimations for tasks. I do this by having tags like 10min, 20min, 30min, etc.

These tags all have corresponding shortcuts set, so that I can simply mark a task as a 10-minute task…

Gatsby is a wonderful framework for quickly building static sites using React and GraphQL. Here are some things to look out for when you’re ready to put your Gatsby site live.

Metadata fun

It’s not the most fun part of building a website, but good metadata will help your site be found in search engines and will encourage people to share it on social media. It will also help things like Google Assistant and Siri to gather knowledge from your website.

A good way to check what state your basic meta tags are in is by using a tool like


Some tips and tricks to help you get started

Lately, I’ve been working with a few contractors who hadn’t worked with the Serverless framework before. I realized there’s not a lot of good documentation around this, so here are some frequently asked questions, which should help you get started.

How do I invoke functions locally?

Weirdly, it might be hard to figure this one out initially. If you want to run a single function as if it’s responding to an event, you can use this command:

serverless invoke local -f my-function

Where my-function is the name of your function as defined in serverless.yml.

What you might want to do more often, is run your project…

How I got back some time for deep work

Within my companies, one of my main roles is being a facilitator. I like to help my colleagues do their best work. That means answering a lot of questions over Slack and Zoom.

I love it, but it also takes up a lot of time, especially if you combine it with all the internal and external meetings.

I realised recently that it was about time to make sure I started blocking some time for deep work. I’m generally not a fan of calendar blocking, at least not the way most people apply it. I have a todo list that I…

A lot has been written on this subject, and if you want the definitive guide on product design and software development (if there is such a thing), this is definitely not it. What this is however, is my personal vision on what’s important for building quality tech products and user experiences.

Good software…

Abstracts the logic

Software is only ever a tool, and brings value by simplifying processes. Good software solves real-world problems, abstracts the technical details, and allows the user to perform an action without having to think about what happens in the background.

Begs for interaction

Users shouldn’t feel overwhelmed or scared. Create an…

How do you know when it’s time to course correct?

When we started NearSt in 2015, our product was a marketplace platform on which people could order products from local shops via an app. Marketplaces are difficult to build, however, because you need to build out both the demand side and supply side at the same time to provide value to all of your stakeholders.

Our marketplace was growing, but not as quickly as we wanted it to, and the model was causing us to have to worry about a lot of secondary concerns: organising delivery, managing orders, providing customer support to people using the app to buy products, etc.


I’ve been using AWS Cognito for quite a few recent projects. It makes a lot of sense to use when you’re building serverless applications on AWS Lambda, just because it’s right there and part of the ecosystem.

I also definitely don’t want to ever build my own authentication systems anymore. Been there, done that, introduced security issues, promised myself to never do it again.

And Cognito is great, especially in combination with the ready-made authentication UI elements from AWS Amplify. But there are also some sharp edges and missing features that you run into once in a while.

One of…

How do you make effective decisions in a growing team?

When the company consists of just you and one or two friends, it’s very easy to build consensus and make quick decisions. All of you have all of the information on everything that related to the company, and there’s not much needed to build consensus. You probably already share the same vision about most of the core concepts that your company is built upon.

As the team grows, however, decision making becomes more complicated, and it can quickly feel like things are growing to a halt simply because it takes longer to build consensus and make decisions. Where previously the…

A stepping stone to start working on your company vision

Most startups conceptually start with a big, overarching idea (also known as BHAG: a big, hairy, audacious goal) about how to solve a problem that exists for a large group of people. The things that keep you up at night, or take up unnecessary time or resources during the day: the planet and the environment, boring administrative tasks, things that cost more money than they should.

And then there’s a concrete idea for a solution: an app that would help with X, a physical product that can be used for Y, a service that offers Z.

Writing out a purpose…

Thomas Schoffelen

Entrepreneur tech kid, co-founder of NearSt, Londoner, open source enthusiast and aspiring spare time literature geek.

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