Why I Created Sortly

Dhanush Balachandran / Jun 17, 2014 / 5 Comments

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I created Sortly for my ‘organizationally challenged’ friend.

After years of watching him live out of piles and misplace everything that he owned, it hit me – there had to be a simpler way to search for things around the house.

I realized that it was up to me to build it.

In January 2012, I left my full-time job at Intel to solve my friend’s ‘staying organized’ problem – a challenge that impacts millions of consumers worldwide. I had a clear vision for what this solution should be – a fun, easy to use, and secure mobile app.

Flash Forward: The Vision Becomes an App

It’s hard to imagine that when I took the jump, I barely knew how to code iOS. After two years of learning iOS development, sleepless nights of coding, hundreds of customer request letters, and hours of field research studying the habits of my messiest friend (yes, seriously), Sortly’s newest version, 4.0, is in the app store.

It’s these features that I am most excited and proud to announce:

Pain-free organizing: We’ve created a colorful, lively iOS7 optimized user interface that turns a ‘chore’ into an enjoyable experience (what our customers tell us!)

Unbelievable security: We’ve launched Sortly Cloud Premium, an NSA-proof, highly private AES-256 bit encrypted cloud storage system that keeps items private. Sortly is the only app of its kind that keeps sensitive data 100% private. Not even the app’s parent company has access to data stored on the premium cloud – which is why customers feel comfortable storing sensitive and private data like social security details, bank cards, and ATM pins in their account. The technology we employ is similar to the one employed by Lastpass & 1Password for data protection.

Visuals made easy: We’ve designed an easy to use photo highlighting feature similar to the popular app: ColorSplash. Users can highlight a specific object or area in the photo in color while the rest of photo becomes black and white. See it in action below!

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Accepting the Challenge: Becoming an Entrepreneur

In January 2012, armed with unparalleled support from my amazing wife, I self-taught iOS programming by following a free online course.

Five months after my journey began, I released an app called “My Things – Where Are They?” – an app that a team of brilliant brand strategists from South Carolina would help me rename to Sortly.

It was a simple app that allowed users to easily organize the things around their house with photos, so that they could search for them later. Within a few days of the release, the app hit top 50 productivity apps and generated lots of very loyal customers – 25K downloads within a few days.

The early traction left me energized, inspired, and even more committed to my vision.

Embracing Customers: Pushing Past Roadblocks

There were always checkpoints throughout the process. There were moments when I thought that the app would never come to life in the way that I wanted to build it, and there were days when I thought that I would have to give up. I even went back to a job (running a team of iOS engineers at a startup) for a year – working part time on the app. All the while, my ‘idea’ kept calling me back – and to succeed, I needed to be all-in.

In September 2013, I became an entrepreneur again – committed to releasing a reimagined version of my app.

What’s kept me going has been the response from my customers – the press coverage from Austin Woman MagazineDaily Mom, and a local Omaha television channel, among others. You see – building the app was always about the customers and the versatile ways that they are using the app to maintain records, plan inheritance for their parents, maintain small business inventory, plan their trips, and streamline the challenge of moving.

I firmly believe that after social media, apps & services that help people and companies manage their physical things would be the next big innovation wave. I am so lucky to have customers to help me build this dream and navigate this journey.

  • Congratulations Dhanush! I love Sortly, beautiful design and functionality.
    I used it the other day to categorize all my stuff in my apartment. You rock!

  • Satyanarayana Kasyap K

    Congrats Dhanush and Best wishes to you..

  • Shaishav Shah

    I just come across your interview with Paul (The App Guy). I am very impressed and study your profile.

    Congrats Mr.Dhanush.

  • Ronda Bingham

    An incredibly simple and well thought out app…WOW!

  • Simøn Recher

    will there be a windowsphone app?