Hi Max please tell us about the creator behind Finimize.
I’ve been lucky enough to work in a wide variety of companies and industries. I’ve always had the desire to build something that solves a specific problem in order to make our lives easier. In 2014 I founded DeinDeal, which became the largest Swiss ecommerce platform after Amazon. We successfully exited in 2015 which led to the founding of Finimize with my old university friend Scott Tindle.
Our mission is to make finance more accessible to my generation (a.k.a. millennials). So far we’ve created one of the web’s most popular and well-read finance email newsletters, and we’re about to launch an amazing new financial guidance platform – Finimize MyLife – in Spring this year.
The entire concept does a great job at simplifying financial news. Tell us where the inspiration came from for this platform?
Put simply, I realised that we millennials can be pretty clueless when it comes to our personal finances. The issue of financial illiteracy is amazingly widespread.
Everyone from our parents to the media tells us to save, save, save. So I did. And then one day I looked at my bank account and I realised that I had accumulated some savings and naturally the question arose: “Cool, now what?” When I asked my friends for advice, even my banker friends couldn’t help me. I quickly had to realise that most people were clueless when it came to their personal finances.
Finimize MyLife gives users an overview of how to arrange their financial lives in just three minutes. The millennial generation is really coming of age in a financial sense and moving into higher-paid roles and accumulating savings (and inheritance). Most people my age will not know what to do with their savings and we have set up Finimize MyLife to help us make good financial decisions without the stress or expense.
What was the process like from concept to launch?
The newsletter was the first step on the ladder. We were, in effect, testing the appetite of millennials to engage with what is generally seen as a pretty dry topic - finance. Our goal was to demystify the news stories by simplifying the financial jargon so that anyone could understand them.
The response we had was overwhelming. In just over a year we’ve grown to over 60,000 subscribers. That’s one of the fastest growing newsletters out there. We haven’t spent a penny on marketing so that’s all down to word of mouth.
The next step is to help our audience make sense of what they should be doing with their own finances. We’re building a cutting edge digital financial planning platform, which provides free financial plans within 3 minutes to our users – all in a way that’s simple to understand and actionable. The platform is currently in alpha testing and it will go live in the Spring. We’re really excited to take the company to the next level and be able to help millennials with their finances more directly.
How has your target audience responded to Finimize?
Finimize was created with the millennial in mind. Financial news outlets are typically aimed at a slightly older generation who might be more familiar with the language used due to their professional experience. We wanted to change this and demystify finance for the current and next generation.
Given our growth to date, it seems like we’re on the right path. You can check out some of the user feedback on our website – it’s not what you’d expect for a finance platform.
What is your favourite thing to do when you’re not running Finimize?
I try to stay in shape by running, swimming, climbing or cycling. But running Finimize is currently taking up most of my time.
How did you fund the business in the beginning?
Initially Scott and I funded the business with our own money. At the end of last year we then got London-based VC Passion Capital on board. Eileen Burbidge, Stefan Glänzer and the team there are fantastic and really believe in what we’re trying to do.
What has been the most exciting and the most challenging aspect of running Finimize so far?
Seeing the big pickup in our newsletter. And now we’re really excited to get user feedback on the Finimize MyLife platform.
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first launched?
I think entrepreneurship, and startups in particular, are often made out to be much more complicated than really is the case. In essence, you need to use your common sense: build something that people want and figure out how to make a business out of it. That’s really it. Now, that’s obviously hard AF to do – but that’s really what your focus should be on.
You need to build products out of conviction and then optimise them by looking at data. I think often founders focus only on the data and don’t trust their own conviction. In my view, you’ll never build a great product in that way.
You need to be clear on where you want to go (vision), and then you need to be flexible enough to adjust your route to get there based on user feedback/data. If you do that, then I don’t think you’ll ask yourself this question of “What if I had known this before?”
What are your top tips for marketing for millennials?
Develop an authentic and genuine voice. Stay true to it. And most importantly, treat your users with respect – millennials have so many different options in terms of apps, etc. that they’ll be quick to disappear if you waste their time.
How would you define being an entrepreneur?
It’s a person who is very persistent in pursuing excellence, where excellence is defined by the highest possible user satisfaction with regards to the product/service that the entrepreneur is creating. Put simply, you have a clear vision and you’re persistent in making that vision a reality.
What plans do you have for Finimize over the next 12 months?
Our beta launch in Spring this year is going to be a big moment for us. We have over 12,000 people on our waiting list currently and it grows by the day. 2017 is a massive year for Finimize and we can’t wait!