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Excel-inspired Personal Finance application - start up biography

MoneybleMoneyble subscriber Posts: 1
I used to work for one of the Big Four consulting companies. Mostly working as an external consultant with corporate clients. Names range from well-known international giants like Siemens and Nestle to less known local mid-size companies. In consulting you learn very fast how to manage your time, work effectively and of course provide value. Clients are paying big buck per hour. Of course it goes to my employer, not to me. But that's besides the point today. The point is that when working in consulting you are always on the run from one project to another. You are a highly-valued professional who delivers high-quality results in the shortest period of time.

Then my circumstances changed. Eldest kid went to school. I wanted to spend more time with kids at home. Wife was pregnant again. So I decided to cut off travel. I switched jobs and went to client side cushy job - well-paid, no travel, 8 - 4:30 (yes 4:30!) not too many tasks, no deadlines, no real deliverables. At first I was bored. Knowing what I can do and not being able to apply my skills fully because no one demanded that much at my new job... It was frustrating at first. But then I realized how much spare time I have now. I could use it to fulfill some old ideas of mine. And I will be able to apply my time management skills again...

I am a control freak. I always tracked my personal finances in the spreadsheets. I tried some commercial apps too: Mint, Quicken, MS Money. Mint might be a good tool for housewives. But I wanted more. I wanted some dashboards, flexibility, convenience. Excel could give me all I wanted. I am IT professional so I can call myself an advanced Excel user. Over time I created pretty extensive Excel spreadsheet which worked good for me.

Though Excel is the best product Microsoft has ever created... There are a couple of problems with tracking finances in Excel:
1) You have to manually type in all transactions (no bank statement import)
2) If you forgot to copy down formulas when adding transactions - your calculations got screwed. Sometimes it would take me hours to find that inconsistent formula somewhere in the middle of my spreadsheet.
3) No mobile clients. I have to admit Excel on phones is not the best just due to small screens.

I saw the need for a Personal Finance application that would remind Excel - easy-to-use and flexible, but with intelligent bank statement import and with built-in formula integrity and of course with advanced features for people who want more.
I felt that need for myself. But one person's need cannot trigger a business case.
So I started asking around. My friends who track finances seriously - all said they use Excel. Some others used Mint. A few used Quicken. One used MS Money. But still majority of who I asked used Excel. And all serious people who had some substantial savings, invested in some projects or stocks - all of them used Excel.
To me it sounded like: "If there would be an app that would satisfy all or most of my needs - allowed tracking projects, be transparent, convenient and informative - I'd use it. But I use Excel because there is nothing else out there."

So I started coding. I am an experienced coder and I enjoy doing it. So in my spare time (which I had a lot ) I created spreadsheet-based windows app with Excel look-and-feel for Personal Finance tracking, budgeting, cash forecasting, with dashboards and all kinds of formulas. I fit all accounts on one screen just the way I had it in my Excel file. It helps to see the big picture. I made it flexible so that users can turn on/off certain features such as mortgage/loan optimization or reimbursable expense management. I replicated most of Excel's keyboard shortcuts to make it fast and easy-to-use.

I know there are dozens of personal finance apps already on the market. So what's the point? I tried many of them myself. Still I could not find the one that fits just right.
Most of them do not address my essential needs. Easy example: Most programs display 10-20 transactions on a screen. This is not enough especially when I am looking at the month spend - I need to see more. Often transactions are grouped by account, i.e. I have to go inside the account to see transactions. But if I want to analyze my spending or my earnings - I want to see all transactions from all accounts at once. I don't really care whether I used this credit card or another - I care about what I spent it on, i.e. I care about budget categories and how much I spent in total in that category.
And this is just a tip of the iceberg... there are many other essential things missing even in the most popular apps. That's why Excel rules the world.

I talked one of my friends into developing a mobile phone client as well. I don't have much experience with mobile platforms myself. Well.. our mobile client is still in beta stage and it only supports Android at this time. I already know what needs to be changed there. Just did not have time to fix it.

Windows client is fully functional and it has been available for download for about a year now. So I had some feedback from the users and I think I fixed most of the bugs now.

You can download it from our web site if you are interested to try:

Windows app is absolutely free. It has no built-in ads or any other tricks that would make you buy something else. Anything like that always turns me away. So I will never put anything like that in my app.

Today... We need to grow our team. We have too many tasks and only two people (who are both employed full-time).

Next steps for us:
1) Fix and improve mobile client and add support for more mobile platforms.
2) Do some SEO. We did not do any yet.
3) Add some more features to Windows client.

Once this is done we plan showing it to VC people. Not so much for investments, more for business advice. Today it is a hobby of two IT geeks. We need to turn it into a business yet.

Feel free to contact me with any suggestions/questions at [email protected]

Good luck everybody!
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