New banks

Stackin’s Scott Grimes: ‘We sent 70 million text messages last year’

  • With all the PFMs out there, a lot of people still feel like they lack access.
  • Stackin' uses text messaging to help its users save and grow their money.
Stackin’s Scott Grimes: ‘We sent 70 million text messages last year’

There are a lot of personal finance apps out there. And yet, many people still feel shut out from being able to have a conversation about their finances. Maybe the apps are too heavy, too complicated or just the language is different than how people talk in real life. Scott Grimes addresses all of this with Stackin.

Stackin’s CEO and co-founder built a personal finance app which lets people save and invest and is entirely text messaging-based. So, not only is there not a complicated app people need to learn — there’s no app. He and his team built this for the average american who wants this level of simplicity and guidance around their finances — and it needs to be judgment free. Stackin is well on its way to a million users and has sent over 70 million text messages over the past year.

Scott joins us on the podcast to talk about the app and how Stackin tries to establlsh a relationship based on trust and fun. More fintech apps are adopting a conversational interface and we discuss the benefits in doing that for UX. Scott shares some of his product roadmap, as well.

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The following excerpts were edited for clarity.

Stackin’s startup story

My previous company was sold to Warner Music a few years back. It was a content digital media company. I ended up in fintech a little bit backwards. I was never a banker, but always a big fan of the finance and fintech space.

I grew up in Central Texas in an area without a lot of wealth. Our town lacked resources and awareness about personal finance. People didn’t have a connection point. As I moved throughout my life to other cities, I saw other people had more access and finance had more relevance to their lives.

When we started Stackin’, we wanted to create a cultural connection point where we could give people en masse to connect with finance in a way that was more approachable, that made them feel good around money. Ultimately, they need to take action. We say here that if you don’t take action around your finances, nothing will change. That’s our goal: can we make it simple to get started, judgement-free, and in a way where everyone can access it.

How Stackin’ tries to differentiate

We’re 100 percent text based. We built a messaging platform on Twilio and all of our communication originates from SMS. That’s generally a different entry point. Our approach is different, too. We tend to be a little more guided by nature versus conversational.

We’ve codified the voice behind Stackin’ by sending 70 million text messages over the past year. Our character is a woman named Kim. She’s very relatable — like all of us, we make mistakes sometimes and sometimes we need encouragement. We try to communicate in a tone and voice that people speak in, in the lexicon that they use everyday.

A lot of times, specific words don’t mean things to people that may seem obvious — like the difference between using ‘interest’ versus ‘grow your money’. They mean the same thing, but people respond very differently to both words.

Acquiring new customers

My background is using a lot of content to start relationships with new prospects. We began the company by programming lots of content over social: Snap, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. We use purely video by nature. They’re pretty irreverent and different– they’re not like any other finance video you’ve seen. We’re trying to bring finance into these cultural connection points.

It all starts with social for us — once you engage with our brand, you can go further down the funnel and ultimately into our messaging platform with our end user. We have almost half a million followers and continue to expand from there.

Ongoing communication

Our messaging is segmented based around user interest: investing, savings, or debt. It evolves over time as it gets to know more about you. As we start to capture more data, we’ll add in more personalization. Generally, the communication from Stackin’ for first thirty days starts with a topic based on a user’s interest. It evolves into other topics as we capture more information from our users.

Marketplace model

We curate a marketplace, partnering with companies and products that help our users save or make money. We want to keep them away from predatory products. We’ve worked with everyone from Chime, Bankrate, and Radius. Traditional banking and high yield savings are our categories now. We’ll be expanding our investing capabilities and jump to a credit marketplace and insurance later this year.

Feature creep?

Simplicity is what makes Stackin’ work. Everything we build is built for simplicity. The entire user experience is made very simple, clean and easy. We want to be in the background of our users’ lives. Not every message is meant to take action. Sometimes we just want you to laugh. We want to be the simplest entry point to finance.

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