Finally settling in from FinCon last week, and MAN what a whirlwind… Tons of great talks, food, scenery (was hosted in San Diego!), and most importantly of all – friends. It’s not every day you get to see bloggers in real life, and many of us took full advantage of it either in the halls or on the dance floors (but mainly on the dance floors ;)).
One of the highlights of the trip for me, though? Receiving this at our annual awards show:
(The one time a year I dress up ;))
Lifetime Achievement Award!! How cool/hilarious?? I joked with everyone that I was going to hangup the keyboard now (and REALLY wish I had brought one on stage and “dropped it” for full effect ;)), but needless to say it was a complete joy, and I couldn’t have been more honored. You never know what random projects will take off and make a difference to others, and this blog here just continues to surprise me with each passing year.
So THANK YOU, everyone! Thanks for all who voted, all who come back to the site every day and encourage me, and thanks to all you haters too! ;)
This means the world to me, and was just what I needed to pull the trigger on something I’ve been needing clarity on for quite some time… We’ll get to all that juiciness later, but first – thought I’d share a bunch of new financial technology companies on the scene that starred in our annual FinTech Competition! (Similar to Shark Tank, only cooler ;)).
The 12 Fintech Startups:
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to judge this year due to scheduling conflicts (l’d like to think I’m the Mark Cuban of the judges ;)), but I did spend some time talking to most of the founders after the event and checking out their sites.
Some were okay, and others super promising, but thought you’d enjoy hearing about them and coming to your own conclusions. You never know what the next Mint.com or Personal Capital will be (they were all startups!), so here’s your sneak peek at the next wave of financial technology…
In no particular order…
Tip Yourself (tipyourself.com) — An app that allows you to transfer small dollar amounts from your checking account to your secure Tip Jar. So you can reward yourself anytime, anywhere, whether it’s just $1.00 or a larger amount for something special. I really REALLY like what these guys are doing (so easy and uncomplicated!), and wouldn’t be surprised to see them take off a bit. Been following them throughout the year and know the founder pretty well. Give ’em a shot!
CashCrunch 101 (cashcrunchgames.com) — A (FREE) digital board game aimed to help teens learn about income, expenses, spending and saving in a more entertaining way. I haven’t played the game myself, but in my short meeting with the founder I can tell they really have heart and are in it “for the right reasons.” The game can be played online or off (and they have apps for both Apple and Androids), and I’m sure they’d LOVE feedback if you want to have any of your kids give it a try :)
Debitize (debitize.com) — If you’ve ever wanted to mix the benefits of both credit cards and debit cards, this is the tool for you :) Debitize monitors your credit cards for new activity, and then automatically initiates a transfer out of your checking account into your Debitize account whenever you make a charge. When your credit card bill comes due, Debitize pays it for you – automatically and on time – with the funds from your Debitize account. Pretty interesting! (And they received Runner Up)
iSow (isow.com) — iSow is a platform that lets young people save for important goals by “planting seeds” for their futures but also “dispersing seeds” to help others. You set up a profile, decide what you want to sow for, and then share your link with others to help fund it. Mainly for birthdays or holidays or any other special events (and great for parents so your kids don’t get any more “stuff”!). These guys were super sweet and not shockingly won “People’s Choice” award :)
Pocket Change USA (pocketchangeusa.org) — Another (free) financial app that uses gaming to improve your knowledge of how money works in the real world. They also have a kids-focused version similar to CashCrunch, but this one here is aimed at anyone. While I haven’t tested any of them out myself, I was convinced that its parent company – Transformance – is a pretty legit non-profit. And anyone trying to help the underserved is a well served friend of mine! (I think that made sense?)
Stock Trend Spotter (stocktrendspotter.com) — Stock Trend Spotter analyzes over 6,000 stocks on the NYSE and NASDAQ exchanges, and then issues Buy Signals every day for the top 3 stocks using its proprietary performance criteria. It also calculates conservative share positions and stop loss adjustments for each signaled stock as well. We had a friendly debate over index funds, but in the end were all laughing (and hugging) and I actually came away learning a lot more about the markets in general. Interesting founders, and interesting service!
ProActive Budget (proactivebudget.com) — ProActive is a cash envelope budgeting system, only digitized. It uses a prepaid card instead of actual envelopes, and instead of taking out the cash and buying something, you open up the app and tap the category instead, and then just swipe the card. If you forget to choose where the money’s coming from, it gets declined (forcing you to consciously choose similar to real envelopes). I got the gist of it eventually, but not gonna lie – it took me a while to figure it out. And the site does it no favors either.
iConsumer (iconsumer.com)– A coupon site that allows you to earn actual shares of its own company (iConsumer) as you use their coupons. The more you use them, the more shares you earn! Which in theory you can sell one day and become a kazillionaire ;) Unfortunately I missed the chance to talk with these guys because it def. sounds intriguing, but something tells me it won’t work exactly as well in practice… But hey – worst case you get a ton of coupons!
Envudu (envudu.com) — Another envelope budgeting app, only instead of using a prepaid card, it harnesses your (already owned) debit card. And the rep was much nicer than the other, for what its worth… How does it work? Instead of viewing your checking account through your bank’s site, you see it inside Envudu’s app. But instead of just one large chunk of money, you see your money broken down into the separate spending envelopes. Whenever you’re ready to spend money, you just open the app, choose the envelope, swipe your card and you’re done!
DIY.FUND (diy.fund) — DIY.FUND helps you “create and maintain a portfolio based on Modern Portfolio Theory (“MPT”), which is the framework for combining uncorrelated assets to generate the highest returns possible at a given level of risk.” I’m just copying/pasting that there as it’s all above my head :) I have seen the name pop up among some pretty popular bloggers though, so they def. seem to be doing something right. In a nutshell you set up your investment goals with them, monitor your portfolio, understand your risk, and then do it yourself. And they claim to give you the same tools as professionals on Wall St use – only for free.
Pluto (gopluto.io) — An app that helps you spend less and save more for the goals that actually matter. It’s currently not live yet, but it looks like it uses bite-sized “Spend Less” challenges in order to help you break your bad habits using your history (you connect your accounts to them), and then they automatically save the difference towards your goals. I didn’t get a chance to talk with these guys either, but I do like the personal challenge idea. Could be something?
And then lastly…
Kavout (kavout.com) — A (free) AI-driven investment platform that the judges awarded 1st place to, along with a $4,000 check. Kavout applies big data technologies, artificial intelligence and machine learning to stock analysis to make finding, screening and analyzing investment opportunities efficient and intelligent. So if you like using technology to help pick your stocks, these are the guys to see. Though I must say my only interaction with them wasn’t really the greatest. Went to congratulate a rep and was pretty much brushed off, soo…. congrats?
Hope you found these interesting! I was going to keep my personal impressions of all the founders/representatives to myself, but figured it’s something to keep in mind since it’ll usually reflect one way or the other in their product (or customer service). For the better or the worse.
Anyways, if you plan on testing any of them out let me know! Or if you’re already even using one (you hipster, you). And if you’re gonna be around Dallas next year…