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Ever wished you could anonymously compare key financial product information with people in a similar situation to see whether you’re getting a good deal? That’s exactly what the founders of the new Moneytribe app are helping consumers do. Here’s the story behind this social start-up.

The Moneytribe app is the brainchild of iSelect co-founder David Urpani and AgentArts co-founder Andrew Coates, who were on the hunt for a social opportunity in the financial services sector. The duo noted a trend by consumers to seek product advice from their friends and family, and set about building an app, with the help of CTO Marcus Ehrenblad, that would connect people who use the same products and providers.

This would help people get a better feel for whether they have the right products and providers at the right price, as well as form the basis for social product comparisons and social buying,” Coates told Dynamic Business.

And, according to Coates, the Moneytribe app is the first step in the logical evolution of online product aggregation and comparison services – moving from aggregating supply to aggregating consumer demand. The first to approach financial products from a social point of view, the team have high hopes for the app’s viability in overseas markets.

“We need to get our user experience and model right in Australia first for key categories such as health insurance, home loans and then utilities, partnering with leading providers to make sure our members can access deals and value from all providers, not just a subset. We’ve also acquired domains for over 20 countries so once we’ve got a model that works we’ll expand quickly overseas,” Coates said.

“We also now have a provisional US patent for much of our core technology,” he added.

The risk of failing

Despite having high hopes about developing the Moneytribe app for international audiences, Coates knows no start-up is immune to what he considers the biggest risk facing Aussie businesses – failure.

“In Australia, the start-up experience is not rated nearly as highly as the US so spending a few years on a start-up that fails is a still something of handicap if you want to get back into corporate,” he said.

The key to managing this risk, for Moneytribe at least, is twofold. First, develop a well thought out product.

“Start with a core development team – don’t outsource anything if you can help it, particularly if you expect to make lots of changes and pivots related to what the products does and how it looks. Design for success from the start or pay the price of compromised, poorly designed technology,” he said.

And second, focus on executing it brilliantly.

“Focus is everything. Ideas are cheap but execution is where the value is. Without focus you may end up with lots of activity buy little commercial traction,” he said.

A must-download

Although the start-up’s founders are currently focused on consumer financial products like health, life, car and home/contents insurance as well as superannuation and mortgages, they do have plans to expand into the business insurance and utilities categories by the end of the year.

Also in the works is a bid for business service called ‘Make Me An Offer’, which will allow users to make an offer around their product or business, based on the sharing of an anonymous profile.

“…more social buying features [also mean] we’ll provide a much easier and more efficient way to compare, shop and buy financial products with significant product savings.,” Coates added.

Having funded the start-up with a combination of their own money and some seed funding from a group of Melbourne-based angel investors, the founders are hoping to secure some Series A funding by the end of the year. And as for some final words of wisdom for other Aussie start-ups, Coates again stressed the need to stay focused on your core product.

“Focus is always a challenge – there’s so much you need and want to do but simply can’t given funding, resourcing, time and so on,” he said.

“You have to start with a minimum viable product that is usually a long way short of what you envisaged to be the kind of product you’d need to be successful,” he added.

For more information about Moneytribe, click here.

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Lorna Brett

Lorna Brett

Lorna was Dynamic Business’ Social Web Editor in 2011/12. She’s a social media obsessed journalist, who has a passion for small business. Outside the 9 to 5, you’re likely to find her trawling the web for online bargains, perfecting her amateur photography skills or enjoying one too many cappucinos. You can follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/dynamicbusiness">Twitter @DynamicBusiness</a>

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