2023 End of Year Letter

It's been a formative year for Reflect, our note-taking company. This letter will recap what we've shipped in 2023, how the business is going, and our plans for the coming year.

2023 End of Year Letter

What we shipped in 2023

A key focus for the year was on performance and stability. While this wasn't originally the plan, we did a survey at the start of the year, and it was clear to us that we had some major performance instability issues, especially on iOS. So we reprioritized the roadmap to focus on this. Speed and stability are paramount - they're non negotiable.
That said, between upgrades to our database and syncing service, we also managed to ship some major features. I'm especially proud of our AI search and editing integrations. Here's what we shipped month by month:
  1. January - AI palette editor
  1. February - Adding iOS audio memos
  1. March - Custom AI prompts, Readwise integration, iPad Testflight
  1. April - Desktop and mobile app redesign
  1. May - New importers, drag-and-drop bullet points
  1. June - ChatGPT plugin, redesigned Chrome extension
  1. July - Mobile app speed improvements by 2-3x
  1. August - iPhone widget, API and automatically add backlinks
  1. September - AI added to mobile app
  1. October - Bug squashing
  1. November - Advanced search and AI chat with notes
  1. December - We're Profitable!
You can find more information about what we've shipped in our public changelog and also in Discord.


At the back of anyone's mind when they try out a new startup's service is the question, "What happens if the startup disappears?" This is, unfortunately, an all too common occurrence. Startups often go bust, raise too much venture capital, flame out, or, even in successful cases, get acquired and shut down.
People especially worry about this with note-taking apps, given how deeply they're intertwined in daily lives. We hear these worries a lot, so I want to address them.
At Reflect, we've always tried to do things a little differently. For me personally, Reflect is a very special passion project. We're not building to get acquired. We're not building to take over the world. We just want to build a modest, profitable, useful, business.
In December we finally turned a profit. Going forward I want to keep running the business at a profit. This will give us the best chance of surviving for the long term.
Whenever you want a specific outcome, the best way of achieving it is aligning incentives. This is where startups often go wrong. They hand out big grants to employees. They raise venture capital. All of which incentivize the business to go big or go home.
We've been careful at Reflect to establish the right incentives to ensure the longevity of the business. About a year ago, we raised just over a million USD through crowdfunding. We made it clear to our investors that our goal was to issue dividends instead of pursuing additional funding rounds, markups, and a liquidation event.
I believe we should revive a culture that values small businesses, profits, and dividends. I want Reflect to exemplify this, focusing on product quality and longevity. Hopefully, we can set a strong example.


We have quite a small team at Reflect, but the team packs a punch. We added Sam to lead up growth in 2023, but other than that, the team has remained the same. We have Vojtech and Ocavue on engineering, Sam on growth, support, and success, and I do everything else.
At times I find it mind-boggling that our little team supports almost 4,000 customers. But that is the beauty of building a product that is, for the most part, intuitive. And building for a user base which loves getting stuck-in and self educating. And a big thanks to our customers who share their knowledge with the community on Discord.
Our new YouTube channel, as pioneered by Sam, has been a big part of this. He has published over a hundred videos showing how to use Reflect with various different use cases.


Building a note-taking app is deceptively difficult. The technologies involved are highly intricate. For example, rich text editing, end-to-end encryption, offline sync, and conflict resolution are all challenging domains in their own right. Not only that, but the performance and uptime requirements are stringent.
We don’t take this responsibility lightly. Reflect plays a critical part of our customers workflow - their notes have to always be available everywhere they are at all times.
I would say, we haven’t always got this right. In 2023 we’ve had some big performance issues, especially with our mobile app. We have made strides to improve this, and this will be a continual focus until it’s completely resolved.
The other hard part of building a note-taking app is how subjective it is. Everyone thinks slightly differently, so everyone wants slightly different features. If you try and build for everyone, then you'll just end up with a bloated, slow app. As I like to say, there's no code faster than no code.
When it comes to prioritization and product development, our values have been a critical part of staying on the right path. We prioritize security and speed above all else. After that, we focus on the 80% use-case. We're not interested in building advanced features or settings pages with hundreds of customizations. There are other tools for that.
In 2024, we will continue this approach, saying no to most features. The features we do build, we will strive to make as simple as possible. And we will prioritize security and performance first.

The Plan for 2024.

We've just finished our survey for 2024 where we ask our customer base for their feedback. The top feature requests were:
  1. Tasks – ability to organize and manage to-do’s in a centralized place
  1. Mobile app features – add meetings, advanced search, etc.
  1. Data management – better attachment support and ability to organize notes
It's also clear that we still have work to do on the performance side, especially on iOS. All the snazzy AI features in the world don't matter at all if you can't get the basics right. This will be the first priority.
I hesitate to promise this, considering I've promised it for over a year and we still haven't delivered, but we are close to revamping our tasks interface. This will provide an aggregate list view of all your pending to-dos. We do not intend to build an advanced tasks product. We simply aim to cover the basics that will work for 80% of our users. We are also bringing tasks to mobile.
In terms of assets such as PDFs, we want to improve our handling of them with client-side OCRing, offline upload support, and end-to-end encryption.
No doubt other things will slip into our roadmap, but I can assure you we will always view them through the lens of our values when evaluating what to prioritize. When a new feature gets added to Reflect, it’s undergone rigorous scrutiny.

In conclusion

I can speak for the team when I say we've had a tremendous amount of fun building for all of you. We are in a privileged position, getting to do what we love every day, building for an audience that appreciates it. Please keep giving us feedback; it helps us better serve you 🫶
Thank you!

Written by

Alex MacCaw
Alex MacCaw

Founder and CEO of Reflect