#NewtoNext, Funded App, Nishtha Dalal
February 28, 2020 | Inspiration
There are myriad reasons it’s especially important for female founders to develop stellar personal-finance habits; the galling US wealth gap, our higher healthcare costs, and the sad fact that we are more likely to have our personal credit tied to our businesses.
Luckily, fellow entrepreneur Nishtha Dalal is on a mission to empower people to spend money confidently. Her app, Funded, shows you how much money you have to spend while taking upcoming expenses into account, so you don’t get caught out at the end of the month.
Please can you tell us a bit about yourself and Funded App?
I’m Nishtha, a designer and entrepreneur with a deep passion for getting people off their screens and helping them feel positive in their real lives. I used to work at the biggest budgeting product out there – Mint, where I learned a lot about personal finance as it pertains to the effect it has on one’s sense of confidence and accomplishment.
Funded is an “anti-budgeting” personal finance app. Our focus is to empower users to spend their money confidently and as they see fit without chasing down pennies. We do this by putting an Everything Else number front and center, which comes from setting aside money for big planned expenses and credit card spending.
Is there one personal finance mistake that a lot of us make? Can you tell us a little about the anti-budgeting approach to finances?
Thinking about spending by category is a big mindset change a lot of us are learning.
Our research and personal experience revealed that millennials don’t like feeling shamed for categorical spending or feeling like they need to budget.
The market is dominated by budgeting apps that retroactively spit out all the ways you shouldn’t have spent your money. This leaves users feeling judged for spending their money.
Funded does the opposite, we’re taking a proactive approach to help you understand how much money you can spend at any given time. This gives you the freedom to spend your money as you see fit.
Funded syncs with your paycheck to automatically set aside money for your biggest expenses, e.g. rent/mortgage, loan payments, savings goals, planned expenses like travel/weddings.
To sneak in a second one, believing your checking account balance at face value is a big mistake.
Consumers paid upwards of $100 billion in credit card fees and interest in 2019 alone. Add that up with $30 billion in overdraft fees, we’re just handing our money over to large corporations.
We tend to forget that our checking account has many jobs – for example, it’s where our rent checks go from, and credit card payments are made. We’ve heard countless times how useful Funded can be by just adding these two expenses to your checking account.
Funded doesn’t actually take your money, we simply earmark it based on your plans.
You co-founded the app with Tushar Soni. What’s the secret to a great co-founder relationship?
When we first moved here nine years ago, we were overwhelmed by figuring out everything from getting our social security numbers, to learning about credit scores. Personal finance has been a shared passion of ours for a long time.
Funded is the third product we have launched together. Before Funded, we spent a few years on AutoGradr. By now, we know each other’s working styles and interests well.
It’s great that our skills complement each other — I’m a designer and with experience on consumer product teams like Mint, OkCupid, and Meetup, and he is an engineer who has worked on large scale products like Apple Music, App Store, and UberEats.
The secret might be to find a passionate co-founder you can rely on to help you get unstuck, and a relationship you can confidently say will stick through disagreements.
You both work full time in impressive and demanding roles. What made this idea something that you could commit to working on, and do you have any tips for people who are struggling to make the time for their entrepreneurial ventures?
To be candid, our commitment came from the fact that we absolutely needed something like this in our daily lives, and we’ve found ourselves often helping friends with managing their finances.
The advice for people who are struggling to make time is to take a step back and ask yourself— if this does work out, would I want to do this all day every day for several years?
Second, find a regular sustainable schedule. It’s tough to come home from a full-time job and just get to work right away, so carving out time for relaxing and getting a small reset before working all over again has helped us.
Lastly, setting deadlines and milestones helps. It’s easy to keep refining and perfecting areas that are in your comfort zone. This ultimately prevents the idea from making it to market, causing burnout from lack of progress.
Running your own venture means wearing several different hats at once, and also determining which hats need to be worn and when. Having a holistic plan, milestones, and deadlines makes that easier.
Is having a community of women important to you, in tech, and in entrepreneurship?
A femme community has been life-changing for me in tech, entrepreneurship, and in life! I started out with the best community growing up with my mom and sister, and have been lucky enough to have found one everywhere I go.
Entrepreneurship is quite lonely, you are often trying to figure out a million different roles at once. Online communities like Ladies Get Paid, Women in Product, and Female Founders have really helped me feel confident and hone in on skills like marketing, PR that I have no prior experience in.
My IRL community is filled with women I have worked with or gotten to know through local engagements. They have been our biggest champions and a support system on the Funded launch journey.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned bringing a new product to market?
Finding a product-market fit is extremely hard, especially because it’s extremely easy to think you have it.
We also learned that unless you can go viral, user acquisition can be pretty hard and expensive. Tapping into free organic resources is a great option for products without large marketing budgets.
Though this can all sound overwhelming, our biggest learning has been that bringing a new product to market is incredibly fun!
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