You can tell from the tagline that startup Spenz is targeting a young demographic: “It’s like a good shot of wallet steroids with no negative side effects.” The company, described as ‘Mint for Gen Y’ by founder Justin Hein, is a budget tracking application for web and mobile. Users input their purchases and tag them with spending categories, similar to Twitter hashtags. For example you could enter your lunch as $10 #eatingout, and it will categorize it for you. You can also add people or locations, similar to @ names on Twitter – so you could add who you went for lunch with and where (@adam @tgifridays). You can add and edit tags as you see fit, and the app comes populated with generic tags like #food, #coffee, etc. Creating budgets for any tag allows you to see how far you are from your limit at any given time.
The more you tag your spending, the more badges you unlock – they’re divided into general achievements (add the #movies tag 15 times and unlock the Movie Nerd badge), activities (add the #hotel tag to unlock the Night Away badge), and Brands (add a @McDonalds tag to unlock the Loving It badge). Soon the app will offer offline rewards based on users’ spending habits and achievements.
The bootstrapped Toronto-based company was the only Canadian startup accepted to demo at TechCrunch Disrupt – founder Hein says he hasn’t done much networking in his local community, but the conference resulted in a who’s who of the startup industry in his Skype contact list. He says he would absolutely recommend launching at TC Disrupt for any startup, and says that while the judges were harsher than he’d wished at times, the exposure was invaluable. “When we built Spenz we didn’t expect to attract so many evangelists so quickly and have people addicted to finding out where their money goes,” he says. “We think we really hit a chord, and can’t wait to keep pushing new features.”
His team of eight is currently working on the next version of Spenz – Hein says they’ll have at least two more updates this year. The updates will involve location integration, other platforms (the app is currently available for iPhone, but they’ll add Android), offline rewards, and spending comparisons to other users. It will also allow you to download spending reports so you can see where you’re spending your money. It’s not easy to go against an established personal finance tool like Mint, but Hein says he’s up for the challenge. “Like most startups people told us there was huge challenges to our product,” he says. “Since launch the engagement, feedback and excitement from users has been amazing. We are excited to keep pushing new and improved features to make it even easier, rewarding and fun to find our where your money goes.”
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