February 13, 2013
Many people don’t seem to know the answers to long-term financial stability. How do you save money? How do you plan financially for retirement? With all of the so-called experts, why have so many people lost their savings during the recession? Planning for the future can be difficult, and, without proper guidance–possibly downright impossible. But don’t just give up, Planwise.
San Francisco-based Planwise (@getplanwise) helps consumers better understand how their life decisions will affect them in the future financially. The founder and CEO of Planwise is Vincent Turner. Previously, Vincent founded Pisces, the first map-based real estate site in Australia (1997), which designed and patented messaging technology, then shifted focus to an enterprise lending platform used by 90 percent of banks in Australia, processing close to $50B per year in applications. He’s also an advisor to six other startups.
Tech Cocktail: Who does Planwise target?
Turner: Primarily Gen Y – 18 – 35 year olds, in industrialized nations (market size is approx 300M users)
Tech Cocktail: What was the inspiration behind Planwise?
Turner: When I moved here in late 2010, the US was in a bad state, some 1.4M people had their home foreclosed on them that year. I reasoned that those people probably shouldn’t have cared what interest rate they got on their home loan, but instead they should have been more worried about whether they should have ever bought a house at all.
In short, people need help making decisions that impact their finances, and these decisions are typically very stressful and very confusing. People don’t seem to trust the people they would have gone to in the past (their bank or advisors). Planwise is the self-service tool you need to help you better understand your decisions; you can then talk to to your bank or advisor with a greater understanding of what you’re getting yourself into.
We have a great team, but more importantly, every day we are truly helping people. Hearing back from the people whom we’ve helped with our software is probably the most enjoyable thing from our work.
Tech Cocktail: Who is Planwise’s greatest competitor, and how do you differentiate yourself?
Turner: Microsoft’s Excel is really the only “tool” that can do what we do for people. We differentiate ourselves in a ton of ways including:
- Ease of use
- Connectivity: plugged into other data
Tech Cocktail: What is the biggest advantage and disadvantage of starting up in San Francisco?
Turner: Advantage – access to capital and amazing people, and just the general vibe here
Disadvantage – SF can be a bubble; we’re solving a mainstream problem and building a global business. We need to be sure to go external to keep our finger on the pulse.
Tech Cocktail: Describe a challenging moment or a crucial decision for Planwise. How did you deal with it, and what did you learn from it?
Turner: Mid-last year I lost my cofounder, investors, and wound up in Bulgaria with no money, no product, and no return ticket. In addition to that, it was seven weeks away from Planwise’s presentation at Finovate.
The story starts the week after we get into a huge conference in NYC to launch our tech. My cofounder pulls out (the guy coding). I had to find money to buy him out, plus find more money to pay for the coding he would have done to finish the product – and I had no money, literally not a single dollar (my house had been on the market for 12 months). I had an incoming investor who was from Bulgaria, and he had developer relationships there. He told me, “We’re going to be investing. You need to jump on a plane to Bulgaria, and we’ll get your software coded so you can present it.” By the time I got to Bulgaria in early August, the market had suffered a huge fall, shaking everyone’s confidence. So my investors then pulled out. Hence I had no product, no cofounder, no money, no investors and no return ticket home.
I dealt with it by being super-focused on really small milestones and securing my first angel on “money back” terms (i.e., if I don’t make the next milestone, I’ll even pay you back).
Since then, Planwise has secured a few more angels and a proper seed round!
I learned two main things:
1. Prepare for the the worst-case scenario. Have four alternative plans (yes, I said four). Sometimes the world truly conspires against you, and you have to see it for what it is, which is just incredibly bad luck. Keep pushing forward.
2. Help others before asking for help. People will genuinely help you if you create an emotional connection with them over a period of time prior to needing their help.
Tech Cocktail: What’s one quirky fact about you, your team, or your office culture?
Turner: We have a Sippy Cup Rule: “If you spill your drink (at our communal work table), you need to drink from a sippy cup for the rest of the week. All other team members can taunt you and share your general battles with hydration from a 4-year-old’s cup via social media.” P.S.: All our team members are pictured on our website at Planwise.
Did you like this article?
Get more delivered to your inbox just like it!