The Human Alarm Clock
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because Siri is about to get real — sort of.
By Vignesh Ramachandran
If hitting the snooze button for the nth time is your go-to solution when Monday rolls around, what would you think of a service that introduces an actual human into your life? Morning Person is an emerging startup that invites you to share your schedules and to-do lists, and provides you with a phone call each weekday morning from a real person to keep you on track. It’s sort of like outsourcing your alarm clock to a secretary or hotel concierge, without breaking the bank.
The call lasted all of a minute, but it got me started on my day earlier than my usual snooze-button, slo-mo ritual.
The service is in its prelaunch, private beta phase, but I was able to test Morning Person on a recent Monday morning. Armed with my to-do list and schedule for the day, a Morning Person called my cellphone at 6 a.m. sharp. Groggy and a bit irritated that I had chosen such an early wake-up time, I received a friendly morning call from “Jennifer,” one of the startup’s few Morning Persons, who are primarily based in the U.S. and make about $12 to $16 per hour working from home. She read through my to-do list, reminded me of a few meetings and told me the top news headlines of the day. The call lasted all of a minute, but it got me started on my day earlier than my usual snooze-button, slo-mo ritual.
Most of us already have an alarm clock, notes and calendar apps — so why ask a stranger to repeat all that information on a phone call? It comes down to accountability, Morning Person founder Dave Fryer told OZY. Fryer — an entrepreneur-in-residence at Startupbootcamp in Copenhagen — said his early tests in which someone called him every day to review his lists and schedules kept him focused and on track. “I found that being able to verbalize my day and kind of visualize what I was going to accomplish during the day, first thing in the morning, dramatically improved my productivity,” Fryer said.
Early-beta tester Federico Naccarato Sartori — a fellow entrepreneur-in-residence at Startupbootcamp — agrees that productivity is the key benefit. He’s been testing the service five days a week for one month. He schedules his calls for when he’s on his way to catch the metro. He’s had the same Morning Person since the beginning. And in those few minutes each day they have built “a kind of a friendship,” he said in a statement. “She gets to know so many things about me.”
But for some, that intimacy could be sort of creepy. I mean, our schedules and to-do lists are pretty personal. The service lets you share as much or as little of your calendar and to-do lists as you’re comfortable with. And a Morning Person can only see your first name — unless you choose to share more.
Alissa Murphy, who works on product development related to communities, says sometimes she’s surprised, but often tech solutions that depend on other people can flail. “I often think people have low trust in strangers.”
Fryer says he hopes a first version of Morning Person will roll out in mid-December. The plan is to connect the service to whatever calendar you already use (Google Calendar, iCal, etc.) and you’d be able to share your to-do list. Preliminary pricing is set at $25 a month or $250 a year.
If you think about it, your spouse/partner might already be your real-life ”morning person,” reminding you to pick up the dry cleaning and get to the dentist at 3 p.m. — all for free. And getting hit with your to-do list as soon as you wake up isn’t necessarily the healthiest way to start the day, compared with the proven benefits of morning meditation or exercise. But Morning Person is an intriguing concept that marries the reality of our digitally directed lives with the timelessness of human interaction.