Hi Joacim, tell us a little about yourself?
Hi, my name is Joacim Nitz and I am 33 years old. My interest in IT and foremost design began when I got my Amiga sometime around -91. My first experience with any design software was with Deluxe Paint and since then I have never stopped using the computer as a tool for design. Sometime around 94, I jumped on the PC era and began exploring Adobe.
I started working with the web sometime around 2003 when I was studying web with focus on design here in Stockholm. If anyone wants to know more about me they can add me on Twitter (@nitzdesign) or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
So, smartbudget.se has been around for a while now – tell us about the company origins and how the idea came about?
Late 2009 my colleague and also co-founder Andreas Öberg was about to move to a new apartment and decided he wanted to get a better overview of his incomes and expenses to make the right economical decisions. We looked around for programs and web sites in Sweden but couldn’t find anything appealing and simple to use. And then we thought, why not build our own budgeting tool?
We had already built Smartkalkyl.se which we had received much positive feedback for, so why not another online financial tool with a similar name. We actually started the company (Tycero) after we launched Smartbudget. We came up with the name Tycero through a random domain name generator.
How have customers reacted to the product so far? Are users nervous about connecting their finances?
Very positive, there is a great need for understanding ones personal finance so that you can influence it and in the end, actually save money using the tool.
No, they’re not nervous. We sometimes receive questions about security and about how we collect and store information and if the customer can trust us. We explain how we work and that safety is our top priority. It’s often that the customer just wants to know that there is someone behind the service and that you could get help from a real person if needed.
For those users who do not want to enter their login details, we also offer the option to import transactions manually through copy paste, which is much appreciated. Obviously, it is much easier with a fully automatic bank import but there are many small banks and credit card companies that don’t have a simplified login which we require. For those occasions, the copy paste operation works perfectly.
There are a number of competitors now, namely Qapital and Tink. What makes Smartbudget unique?
A number of similar websites and softwares have appeared during the three years we’ve been around. Most of them have for some reason closed down or stopped further developing. It takes more than time, knowledge and a pretty website to deliver a good product. Many also give up if the whole thing doesn’t accelerate quickly enough.
I can also imagine that it has been difficult to find a revenue model that works. It’s no secret that most would like their services to be free to the consumer and that the money will somehow come in through other channels like advertisement and integrating different third party services. To get there it requires a high number of users and quite extensive collaborations with other companies. It is of course something we also look at.
Until that model is possible for us we offer a “plus service” to those who want to get even more out of the tool. It has worked well in the way that these types of users are very happy with what they get, but also the users with less needs are happy with the free service.
Those who pay for the service are often enthusiastic over new functions and always let us know what they think about them, which of course is great fun. We know that people is prepared to pay for a good product.
So where is the company at today? Is this a full-time project, have you taken on funding and are you looking for any employees?
We run the business part time aside from our full time job. Our goal is obviously to run this as a full time project and we hope that we will be there soon.
Since we decided not to take any venture capital (although there were some interested companies) the journey had to take a little longer. Even if money would allow us to work on this full time, it’s important to us that those who want to invest also got the right skills, contacts, and have the same vision as we do. It is also important that the personal chemistry is right if you’re not just taking in a silent venture capitalist.
We want to deliver a honest, simple and user focused service that can help anyone to a better personal finance.