Can you introduce your start-up? What is it, and how did it come about?
Cash Coach is an AI app designed to help people save more and encourage them to start investing.
Budgeting apps don’t work for most people because they are not motivating and they don’t reward saving. Our aim is to replace budgeting with a fully gamified experience. So, instead of people having to work out how much they should spend, Cash Coach will give users monthly saving challenges, intelligently calibrated just for them. Additionally, users are ranked according to their saving performance, enabling them to benchmark their spending against their peers. We want our members to feel proud of their saving rate and compete with others to get even better!
The core intelligence of Cash Coach lies in its ability to predict whether users will reach their weekly objective and provide them with an early warning if they need to slow down their spending.
I used to be a banker looking after the liquidy models that showed us how much money the bank should keep in reserve and how much to invest. There is something the world needs to understand about banks; they make use of sophisticated analytics to efficiently manage their cash, whereas we, as consumers, don’t get access to such technology. That’s a shame because it would help millions of people avoid overdrafts and better plan their finances.
So I decided to rebalance the forces between banks and consumers, and that’s where Cash Coach comes in.
Where are you in your startup journey?
Cash Coach is currently in alpha stage, available on both iPhone and Android. We release a new version every week based on the feedback of our alpha members. If you want to check our progress, I invite you to sign-up to the alpha program on cashcoach.io.
To date, what has been the biggest triumph for your business?
We gave a live demo at Google and it was a total success. The audience loved it, with many requests to use Cash Coach. It’s not quite ready yet, but we’re building it as fast as we can!
How have you found being a c0-founder? And what advice you would give to other co-founders?
The thing I am most proud of is our team. We are 3 geeks on a mission to disrupt personal finance:
I attended a lot of meetups on engineering and design to find co-founders. The best people already have tons of opportunities but hey, you have to convince them that their future is even brighter by joining you.
My advice would be to make sure that everyone shares the same level of ambition, excitement and core values.
How do you manage to balance growing a start-up with having a personal life?
I don’t think it is possible. Building a successful startup is a game that only 1% of entrepreneurs win. Don’t play that game if you feel the need to have a balanced life 🙂
How do you cope with the pressures that come with building a business?
Call me weirdo but I like the pressure, it gives me the thrill to keep doing it.
Did you pursue investment? If so what advice would you give on pitching? What was your secret weapon?
I am not the best person to talk about pitching considering that we just started our first fund raise. My only advice would be to seek investors that you like, who understand what you do and why you do it.
If you could name one thing that you wish you knew when you started, what would it be?
I will be very contrarian: I wish I did not know about the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) idea that is widely spread across the whole startup community. I like Eric Ries and even think The Lean Startup is a great book, but I personally found the concept of MVP too subjective to be actionable.
Where do “minimum” and “viable” start? How to reconcile both? It seems like everyone has their own opinion.
Instead, I find it much easier to focus on the concept of product-market fit and to iteratively execute until getting there. End users won’t care whether it took 3, 6 or 9 months to launch, they just want to see something they like.
To date, what has been your most important lesson?
Planning anything beyond a week is a waste of time. It was a hard lesson for me because I am an organization freak, buts startups never follow a plan. You just have to embrace the chaos 🙂
Do you have any tips or advice for anyone thinking about starting up their own business, or who have just started their journey?
- Know yourself and your values- your startup will be an extension of this
- Know why you want to start a business- is it freedom, money, glory or to change the world? Be honest about it with your relatives, co-founders and investors
- Most importantly, define what success looks like to you. It’s impossible to optimise for both glory and happiness. If you want glory, you will never be satisfied enough by your success. If you want happiness, you will probably never push yourself beyond your limits
What has been the most challenging part of your start-up journey so far?
Reassuring people that linking their bank account to Cash Coach is safe.
The UK is the first European nation to pass a reform that grants all banks’ customers the right to use their data with other service providers (like Cash Coach). Yet, few are familiar with this reform so we need to spend time educating people.
What’s next for your business?
Our public launch. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin to stay tuned!