The Greatest Commercialisation of A Single Idea in History – Pomodoro Technique

Ever heard of the Pomodoro Technique?

Photo by Ed O’Neil on Unsplash


Essentially it’s a productivity hack. By slicing your time into sections and assigning tasks to them, in theory, you should be more productive. Time is split into 25 minute intervals followed by a 5 minute break. That’s literally it. That is the Pomodoro technique in a nutshell.

  1. Task — 25 minutes // break — 5 minutes. (after 4 you break for 20 minutes)

Simple? Yes. Can it be made complicated? Oh yes.

This story is about how one man created a business around one single productivity hack. You might be sitting there thinking, how could you make a business out of a single productivity hack? Maybe if you combined several productivity hacks, created a website, produce endless streams of quality productivity-related content. Then, just then maybe that would lead to some sort of sustainable business. But one hack, one tip? No surely not.

Well, you’d be very wrong.

Francesco Cirillo is the proud owner of the Pomodoro technique (although I’m not sure you can be an owner of an intangible thing). His website features a breakdown of the technique, as I said above, it’s pretty simple. But he doesn’t stop there. Although the technique isn’t packaged into some sort of product and it’s not really a service. It’s literally an idea, a way of doing things. Cirillo has made it into something much more. It’s quite like commercialising the ‘to do list’ but not turning it into a product. Just the simple idea of a to-do list. Quite literally, telling people how to write a to-do list.

Cirillo discovered / founded / created this singular time management method in the late 1980s. It seems since then he’s been hard at work creating an entire business around this concept. The reason I know this is because I wrote about the Pomodoro Technique in a previous article. Whilst researching I stumbled across Cirillo’s website and was amazed at the sheer amount of content around this simple idea.

Focus and simplicity…once you get there, you can move mountains. Steve Jobs.

I’m not sure Cirillo is moving mountains but one thing is for sure, he isn’t doing anything simply. Although, that doesn’t seem to be matter, the website claims “to work with many of the world’s leading companies”. So they must be doing something right.

So how has he done it then? How did he turn a concept, into a business. A living, breathing business.

#1 Talk in Extremes – Pomodoro Technique

“Over 2 million people have already used the Pomodoro Technique to transform their lives”

You sit and think ‘2 million’ wow. Using social proof to get people to invest their time in looking through the website works. Or maybe it I was amazed at the amount of ways he’s managed to monetise a single idea. But anyway what this is really saying is, 2 million people have organised their time in this way. Again, it’s like saying 2 million people have used a to-do list. Not a fancy digitalised version of a to-do list, not a product that alerts you every time you’ve missed an item on the to-do list. Just pen and paper, your own pen and paper I may add, to write your own to-do list.

But they haven’t just used it to manage their time have they? Oh no, they have transformed their lives by doing things this way. And I get it, things have to stand out. I have no doubt some people really have seen a great deal of benefit in using this technique. In fact I use it sometimes. It is good. But it’s just a way to block time.

#2 Create a certification

Yes, you can become a CPM. Oh not sure what that is? Certified Pomdoro Master. Dur. The video ad featured midway through the website, just after all the courses on offer but we’ll get to that, proclaims you can become a CPM. How? I bet you are asking with tainted breath. You need to master the technique and be able to reflect on your Pomodoro’s and strive for efficiency. Once you have managed that, and I’m guessing if you want the certificate you need to go on a course or two, then you are a CPM.

Forget your degree, you are a CPM.

#3 Deliver a training course or six

There are no less than six training courses on offer over at the Francesco Cirillo website. Six. From level 1 through to level 3 and for an undisclosed figure, you can even get one-to-one training with the man himself. Maybe I’m being naive here, or I’ve completely missed something but what else is there to say other than: block your time up into 25 minute chunks and then have a five minute break. What other content is there to cover. It’s a single technique.

Training courses on offer over at https://francescocirillo.com/pages/pomodoro-technique


But oh no, there three different levels to this wizardy. Three levels. To learn how to block time into 25 minute blocks and then have a 5 minute break. I’ve just told you how to do it…

#4 First training then coaching…

Level 1+2+3 will cost a total €1,547 in course fees, the same amount of money could buy you a full body massage chair (with heat might I add), a VR theater system or, some designer MALOUF italian sheets. But that shouldn’t matter, you’ll be the proud owner of your CPM certificate.

After that, then what? Well you could get some coaching.

$85 per 1 hour or you could opt for the $900 for 12 sessions.

All to learn how to manage your time in 25 minute blocks. I know I sound like an old record at this point… I get it. But I’m just confused. How is it anything other than:

  1. Find a task.

  2. Do it for 25 minutes.

  3. Break for 5 minutes.

Am I going mad or is this the simplest concept in the world?

#5 Oh I’ve lost the will

Then onto a school that he’s created, a book, a sheet… the list goes on.

From https://francescocirillo.com/pages/pomodoro-technique


So it turns out that you squeeze every ounce out of the tomato you end up with a lot of courses, some 1–2–1 coaching sessions and a small ad on the principles of blocking your time out.

I wasn’t sure that you could create a whole business out of a single technique but it looks like you can. In fact you really can. Make sure it’s got courses in there, if you’ve got a course you coach people and ultimately if you’ve courses and coaches, you can create a school.

#Business #Entrepreneurship #Marketing #Startup

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