Elevator Pitch: Monetise

Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with founder Gideon Silverman from Monetise.

In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.

Monetise is a secure, free service that helps consumers save money across all of their financial products. Monetise combines smart algorithms, financial product expertise and market research to automatically benchmark a customer's financial health against a database of all products on the market. Monetise gives a holistic view of how much a person pays each month to their bank, how much interest they receive, and how much they can save.

The idea for Monetise came about when I was helping my mum consolidate her finances. By presenting her financial information in a way that banks could understand, she got a better deal across her products, saving $10,000. We realised there was a clear opportunity to help consumers quickly and easily identify the best products and save money.

What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?

Having just launched following our successful public beta, our number one focus is getting Australians using Monetise. The more people that use Monetise, the more powerful the platform becomes. We've had a really great response so far, with monetise.com.au even experiencing some server capacity issues on our launch day due to the overwhelming demand. We'll continue to get the word out about Monetise through marketing, advertising, social media and PR.

We're a small team and internally funded for now. We have a staged business model. For now we're focused on giving consumers tangible benefits and saving them money. Monetise will always be free for consumers, and independent. It is above all a consumer platform. In the future, Monetise is well positioned to help financial institutions better understand their customers, which could enable banks to develop and deliver products and pricing that is tailored more to the individual consumer. The FinTech revolution provides significant opportunity for both consumers and banks.

What's the biggest challenge facing your business?

Our end goal is to empower consumers to take hold of their information in a way that gets them the optimal products for them, and make the personal finance space more competitive. Banks don't always understand their customers' full product holdings and are often unable to tailor products to attract and retain customers with specific needs. Our personal challenge is to solve these problems and make it easy for banks to serve customers more effectively.

Another challenge is to get the message out to consumers that they don't have to put up with suboptimal or stale products. Using Monetise will make it easier for customers to harness their financial information and use it to their advantage.

How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?

We are offering something unique at the intersection of consumers and institutions that help both sides collaborate to deliver better outcomes for the consumer. Monetise provides a holistic view across your product holdings. It removes the complexity of product features by providing a bespoke recommendation tailored to the customer's needs.

Comparison sites provide a very limited view of what the market has to offer, they are not independent, they are incentivised to show products that make them a profit, and they aren't helpful -- they just show a big dump of products the consumer then has to choose from. Monetise is the next wave of smarter, bespoke product comparisons.

What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?

I simply wouldn't be able to survive without my task managing app Any.DO. When you're running a startup, there's just too many things in the air. I tried half a dozen "list" apps but Any.DO was the one I've eventually stuck with because of its simplicity, its beautiful interface and the fact that it can be added to your desktop as a Chrome extension. I have access to it across all of my devices and it works seamlessly.

What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?

"Do not mistake experience for intelligence". It is easy to underestimate the value of experience in quickly and accurately solving business problems. In the beginning of my career, and at the start of the journey of building Monetise, it was easy to feel overwhelmed by the intellectual challenge of building algorithms that estimated the value of financial products to consumers with varying needs and footprints. As we prototyped, iterated and refined, we relied on our own experience from working the financial sector. We applied our own experience of what worked and what didn't, as well as bringing on experienced experts to lend a hand. It has taken over 18 months, but with the accumulation of this experience we have built Monetise into a world-class tool for consumers. It's not down to intelligence alone. We have brought all our experience to bear and worked long and hard on this problem.

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