Following my own frustrating experience with my mobile bank app this past week, I was quite intrigued this morning when Toshl, a Slovenia-based startup with an office in Mountain View released Thursday the latest version of the financial app Toshl Finance.
With every financial institution in the country releasing its own version of a mobile app, what makes Toshl Finance intriguing and justifies its 150,000 users worldwide is that it makes finance fun.
These two words are rarely linked together but with the clever usage of illustrated Monsters as financial assistants, the company hopes to demystify finance and transform what is often perceived as "a chore to an engrossing game of life, which will get people positively involved in their own finance” said Matic Bitenc the CEO of Toshl, in an interview with me.
Bitenc added, “With the proper guidance, most individuals can live comfortably within their means. They just don’t know how.”
I spent an hour talking with the very animated Matic Bitenc about his company and his hopes and dreams for Toshl Finance.
How many users do you have right now?
We have had more than 500 000 app downloads and we have roughly 150 000 currently registered users. About a fifth of them come from the United States, followed by Great Britain, followed by Singapore, Australia, Italy, Spain, Canada, Slovenia, Russia, Mexico, Brazil... As you can see, our users are really located around the world. You can actually see our users syncing in real time at http://toshl.com/live .We can't wait so see the results once we start with our localization efforts.
What kind of improvement does this update bring from the previous version? What can the users expect?
The new Toshl Finance is bringing us one step closer to our vision of the ultimate personal finance manager. Even though with this latest version, we have introduced new features, we have made sure to keep it simple to ease, which our customers love. We've also worked a lot on the feel of the app; we've made it even more homely and fun. The Toshl monsters, our mascots and friendly financial advisors have a much stronger presence than in the past.
The vast majority of Toshl Finance functionality is free to all our users therefore attractive to all. We offer a premium service, which features additional graphs, multiple incomes and multiple budgets. The complete offer of the Toshl Pro functionality can be seen at https://toshl.com/getpro.
Who are your customers?
Our customers are mostly individuals and small business owners who would like to get a better insight into their finances and stay financially strong. We have also noticed that we are more and more families are jointly using the service.
How is this upgrade going to expand your customer base?
We're addressing customer needs that weren't met before. We are slowly moving more and more into the mainstream as we address all the main needs people have with managing their finances. Whether they're at home or on the go, running a small business or balancing their family budget. They can use Toshl on their iPhones, Androids, Windows Phones, Nokia Symbians, and Blackberries as well as on toshl.com.
How are you different from all the other mobile financial app?
The user experience is completely different. Toshl Finance is fun, and easy to use and it is available everywhere. Toshl Monsters, our friendly financial assistants gently guide you through the process of keeping your finance in order while keeping you entertained. We also focus a lot on usability, the speed and ease with which you can enter your expenses. We also offer great online safety through backups and insights through visualizations. We really believe that the fun factor is playing a huge role in our success.
What is your business model?
The basic app is free but we offer a premium package with advanced features available in the Toshl Pro subscription for $19,99/year. That's less than a coffee cup per month, which is nothing compared to the saving our customers make by better managing their finance.
Tell me about your team?
We're a bunch of young guys from Slovenia with a strong presence in the Silicon Valley. Most are top notch mobile and web developers and a designer and an UX/marketing/biz guy complete this skill set. The fact that we come from different academic backgrounds gives us a broader view of the issues we tackle. Chemistry, computer science, political science majors and an illustrator developing a financial app together might seem counterintuitive, but in reality it fits extremely well.
What's your company doing in revenue these days?
Even though, I am not at liberty to reveal at this moment what our revenues are, I can tell you that with over 150,000 users and a steady growth that we are realistically quite hopeful for the future.
What are your previsions for the next 2, 3,4 years?
World domination. We find it's horrible how people's own financial data, which they should be able to use freely and with gain is locked in various silos, such as online banks. They can't use it properlyand manage their own money . The user experiences are often akin to a colonoscopy. We're going to do something about it. Democratize finance.
What’s your exit strategy?
In the words of Monty Python, “Out of the door, line on the left, one cross each.”
One more thing, who came up with the Monsters?
The idea that we should include entertaining characters to our app came from our mentor and first investor Andraž Logar, but Janez Vreček, our extremely talented designer and illustrator, brought to life the monsters.
Photo credit: Toshl Inc.