One year ago this week, Spendbot was incorporated in Delaware as a C-Corp. While I had been thinking about the problem of spending management for… 40 years… and had talked to a few friends and had spent a little money investigating the legal and technology barriers to solving this problem, the actual “founding” of the company was an important milestone, just as entering 1871 to actually pay “rent” and being nominated for a Chicagoland Innovation Award for SpendPlan ™ as our first “released” product were important milestones on our road to “success”.
After a year, I’ve learned a few things:
1. Unlike my first startup, Hytel Group- where we came up with a plan (an actual 25 page Business Plan), got it funded ($3M to start and $10M more later), and executed (grew to 200 people)- the need today is to execute first, whether it be 1000 paying/engaged customers, or a couple strategic partnerships with significant organization, or grants and awards; ideas don’t really get funded;
2. The cost to initially execute a startup are more reasonable than ever, but not trivial. I have many people to thank for their advice and assistance and frameworks have helped a great deal, but it still costs tens of thousands of dollars to put together something that people can find reliable value in using (something beyond a highly Flintstoned/unsustainable prototype). And while taking care of the rest of the details involved in something like Spendbot will not cost the $10M+ some companies in the space have raised, it will ultimately take seven figures of investment;
3. Spending management is a huge problem. 95% of Americans think so. The average American knows over 7 people who need help. Social service workers are well aware of the troubles their clients face with money management, and there are nearly 100M (that’s M as in Million) Americans without a bank;
4. Most people think Spendbot is a great idea and want to help. Without spending a dime on PR or marketing I now have a mailing list of about 250 people who have said they like the idea, some of whom have said it’s one of the best ideas they’ve ever heard. Actually, I’ve only had three people- less than 2%- say they didn’t think it was a good idea (“why would anyone trust YOU with their money?”). Truth is, that’s a good question, to which I’d answer “why trust Mark Zuckerberg with what you did last night, Steve Jobs with all your photos, and pretty much any bank or company with all your money, investments, and account passwords”. The answer is… because you get a lot out of it.
So… where we’re at: Time to Execute. Ken and Nicholas and I are working to make changes to get something really great out in the next month or so, something that will be better than anything out there. When it’s ready, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, thank you again for your interest, support, and assistance. While I can’t mail everyone a check, I can provide a link every few days (including one this Friday) at www.spendbot.info that will save you $20 on visit(s) to local restaurants, and have links coming to save money on health care, debt, travel, transportation, and other essentials.