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Interviews

Published on October 18th, 2012 | by Yoav Farbey

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Q&A Session with Daniel Maxwell, founder of Livesheets

This is Livesheets

This is Livesheets

This week The Startup Magazine had an interview with Daniel Maxwell, founder of  Livesheets. Livesheets takes the fear out of calculations. It frees you from the grid and lets you sketch your sums in just the way you think.

Livesheets provided us with a video demonstraiting how Livesheets works:

1) How did Livesheets start?

We were created by the 2012 Olympics!

My last company, started in 2007, built the the crowd flow model for the whole Olympic Park. It was the most detailed and complex crowd flow model ever built for a sports event, but was also built in Excel and designed to be used by people who knew nothing whatsoever about spreadsheets. It highlighted some very real limitations in Excel, and it was out of that need for both technical complexity and simple, elegant usability that the ideas behind Livesheets were conceived.

2) What was the motivation for starting Livesheets?

I am extraordinarily impatient with software, and I hate it when I have to spend time working the computer rather than working the ideas.

Software should let you work your ideas.

I want Livesheets to let you do that.

3) Who is Livesheets aimed at?

People who want to snap calculations together like Lego rather than starting from scratch. I want anyone’s grandma to be able to use it to work out the trajectory of rockets in space, if she wants to.

But I think we need to kill the false distinction between designing for expert and non-expert users. Experts still need beautiful, simple and powerful tools. They might customise it differently over time, but the essense should be the same.

4) How long has Livesheets been in the making?

It was conceived in my mind through years of grappling with shortcomings in Excel, but we launched our earliest version earlier this year.

5) What stage is your business currently at right now?

The current version is a working prototype. If everything goes to plan we should be launching a big new version early in the new year.

The current version, unfinished as it is, is available to have a play with at livesheets.com

6) What would you like to achieve with Livesheets?

To unify data. When numbers or calculations are presented online, I want people to be able to just use them: no file downloads, no import or export, not even copying and pasting. Just use them.

7) What has been your biggest challenge so far at Livesheets?

Livesheets has some really fun technical challenges but I love working on them to find beautiful, elegant ways of doing things. It’s easy to solve complexity with complexity. We are aiming to solve complexity with simplicity. It’s much more difficult to do but so worth struggle.

8) If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting a business, what would it be?

Just start. Today. Right now. People invent far too many reasons why they should wait, or why they should eliminate risks, or worry about what might go wrong. Your life isn’t long enough for that. Just get on and do it.

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