Four former college students opted out of school and are trying to redefine how millennials understand and engage with their money by launching a budgeting and financial tracking app in New York this August. An idea hatched two years ago has evolved into a 13-employee company based in the Soho Cubico shared workspace. The app, Exeq, is designed to help young people confront their spending habits and savings in a way that banks cannot and that a typical busy person won’t. In addition to its more serious attributes, Exeq targets social media conscious users with colorful, visually appealing photos and emoji ratings.
Exeq has a 30,000-person waitlist to start using the initial version of the app and is raising $3 million in seed funding, much of which is already in hand. They’ve amassed their users by taking to the streets. Marketing director Isaac Kassin says his team talks to young people face to face. Employees are selling Exeq’s idea by direct messaging hundreds of strangers on Facebook, talking to millennials in parks around the city and hiring college students as interns. The average employee age is 23.
Users link up to their bank accounts and the app tracks the user’s spending data. Based upon this information, Exeq recommends a budget. Then the app home screen shows weekly spending locations and remaining balance in various categories of expenditures. CEO Derek Brown calls it a transaction feed. “We use your average spending, outside of your bills and with your disposable income and we say, ‘How much can you afford to spend a week to have some savings and roll over some cash?’,” he says.
“Right now, consumers are fairly blind to how much is spent at a favorite coffee shop over time,” Brown says. Exeq proposes to make a user’s habits and financial data more transparent. He says most people make spending decisions based on habit. Instead, Exeq provides data to aid those choices.
The Exeq team won’t say what their target usage is for the weeks after launch, but Kassin says, “I want a ton of numbers.” The company is confident it can deliver. Kassin was a student at the NYU Stern School of Business before dropping out two years ago to focus on the app. He founded Exeq with Tomer Ben-David, Daniel Schwartz and Eli Kraiem in 2015. A year later, they hired Brown, formerly of investment management technology company Addepar and LinkedIn, as their chief technology officer. He is now CEO. Kassin says the former CEO Daniel Schwartz proposed the personnel change to allow a more seasoned professional into the mix.
Exeq is attempting to solve two problems. Banks are not equipped to provide well-organized spending data and are lacking in product experiences and other budgeting apps aren’t appealing to millennials. Brown calls Mint.com, a well-known competitor, and others like it, “a spreadsheet with makeup on.” Mint is a personal financial tracking app that Brown says appeals to a slightly older demographic. Like Exeq, Mint.com operates outside banks, but maintains connections to them.