Hi Alberto. Can you tell us a little about your professional background?
My background is mostly in business administration and marketing. I come from a family of entrepreneurs and always knew I would start a venture of my own at some point.
What motivated you to found Monee, and what is the company’s mission?
Prior to Monee, I maintained two blogs on personal finance and was always a supporter of financial literacy. Last year, my friend Gabriel Lopez (and future co-founder) really motivated me to start a company that would address the lack of financial literacy among various population groups.
Bluntly put: our mission is to help people manage their money for their own benefit. We think that Monee can help users reach a better life and stop stressing out about financial matters.
The first thing we decided to do was to develop a simple money tracker that is extremely user-friendly. The reason for such was that we realised there are many awesome and powerful money trackers on the market, but they have so many features, which makes them too complex for the average app user. People need simple tools that help them solve big problems. Our app has two main features: income – expenses recording, and savings planning. Furthermore, many money tracker providers don’t focus on financial education, so essentially they provide tools for problems that people don’t know how to solve. This was the reason we decided to offer financial education content in addition to our app, such as blogs, newsletters and e-books.
Our first e-book has two goals. First, to teach people the basics of personal finance through simple concepts and methods, and second, to propose a personal finance framework, helping users to get their own financial diagnosis and plan long-term.
Is your target market primarily Latin America?
There’s a lot of diversity within Latin America, with major differences from one country to another. Respective populations utilise funds in different ways due to cultural, economic and legal factors. We have users, visitors and followers primarily from Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, Ecuador and Peru. We also received interest from the United States, where there is a huge Latin community (that has its own characteristics). For now, we want to focus on this part of the continent that’s already quite complex in many ways, and address our users’ pain points. As such, we’re not planning any geographical expansion until next year.
What would you say are the main challenges to improve financial literacy in Colombia and Latin America?
In Colombia and other Latin American countries, wealth in general is far less than the US or any other “first world” country. That being said, many people are attracted by materialism, which eventually leads them to significant amount of debt, often using loans as an extension of income in the process. Others are tempted by multi-level marketing and other dubious business activities, generally due to a lack of financial education.
Changing mentalities and convincing people that such are not sustainable is a real challenge.
How far are you in the product development stage?
A couple of months ago, we released a beta version of the money tracker app, looking for some feedback and reviews. We definitely received valuable user input. The same day we released the app, we announced the release of our first e-book.
Does Monee have any plans to develop online courses geared towards financial literacy?
Yes indeed. We plan to launch our first course on Udemy, but after that, we’re going to test different formats such as email and blog post courses. This is definitely a format we find interesting and ‘unboring’.
What’s next for the company in 2017 and beyond?
The next big phase for Monee is developing integration with payment platforms and services such as PayPal, bank accounts, cryptocurrency wallets, and so on. The idea is Monee being able to track balances from other platforms that people use on a daily basis.
Photo by everything possible, Shutterstock.com