Crosslink Capital and Seattle angel investors Geoff Entress, Michael Buhrmann and others have invested $1.2 million in Balance Financial, a Bellevue company which is looking to combine elements of Quicken’s Mint.com with the personal financial management of H&R Block.

“Instead of just another DIY tool, Balance manages your personal finances for you,” explains CEO Devin Miller. “Balance combines a real human bookkeeper along with purpose built software and an array of bill management, budgeting and forecasting tools to provide an alternative in personal finance that is more like H&R Block than Turbo Tax.”

In an interview with GeekWire earlier this year, Miller said that Mint.com relies on the user to keep information current and up-to-date. The problem is, people don’t really like to spend their time doing that grunt work.

With Balance, the company will assign a personal bookkeeper to handle accounting issues to do either piecemeal assistance or full-on bookkeeping.

“We get a lot of random people from all walks of life who want a fully-managed financial service,” said Miller. “And then we get a lot of people calling and saying: ‘I’ve tried Mint, I’ve tried Quicken and I get it going and two months later it turns into a garbage file because I am not spending the time to update it.'”

Miller said that the market is huge. And the former executive at Finsphere said that the company is different in that it offers both bill paying and expense management tracking.

“Where Balance is different than existing players is the personal touch of real service provided by real people,” said Miller. “The high-tech and high-service combination results in a premium offering that customers will pay for.” The company charges $75 per month for a full-service offering, but the company is looking at alternative pricing points at lower costs.

Balance has been around for seven years, starting as a personal bookkeeping service. The 12-person startup has been adding new online tools to automate personal finance tasks, with plans to offer a full consumer offering as well as a professional suite of products for bookkeepers, CPAs and financial advisors later this year.

Comments

  • http://monkeyrankings.com/ MonkeyRankings

    Great idea, but 1.2m is not enough money to compete with Mint.com.  I wish them luck! 

  • http://www.duncanhaley.com John Haley

    This is totally awesome!  I have always thought Mint needed to take it one step further and this is a good start.  A phone app that tells a person they are about to go over budget on a purchase would be really cool!  I’ll definitaley be looking you guys up.  Good luck!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Devin-Miller/100001051294818 Devin Miller

      John – With mobile payments / wallet coming eventually (Google Wallet /
      NFC, etc) and in combination with our automated decisioning and
      intelligence layer (maintained by your bookkeeper!), ideas like yours
      above are very much going to happen. 

      The technology will be there, the problem is that most people are not
      willing or able to take the time to setup and maintain systems to
      deliver such alerts. 

      The beauty of a scalable, affordable bookkeeping service is that the
      bookkeeper ensures that your account is properly configured for maximum
      value and is accurately and regularly maintained to ensure you can
      actually get timely, valuable alerts such as the one you mention above.

      Be sure to give us a ring.  Would love to talk further!

      Devin

      CEO

      Balance

      • http://www.tycocu.coop Jason Vitug

        This is a great concept and I couldn’t agree more with your high-touch service approach.  I’m a VP at a credit union and I have spoken with thousands of individuals across the country and I can echo the limitations of Mint.com.
         
        At our CU, we’ve instituted a similar service in a much smaller scale. We’ve started Personal Bankers that assist our members. Our members are scattered across the country and its the high-touch approach that is a significant differentiator giving us some competitive advantage.
         
        I’m curious if you’ve looked at partnering with credit unions in offering this as a white label service.
         
        Jason Vitug
        VP, Tyco Federal Credit Union

  • devin

    Appreciate the well wishes MonkeyRankings.  We love the Mint product but unfortunately it is not for everyone.  It is a do-it-yourself tool that requires the user to be actively participating and managing data to get real value from it.  Where Mint is the top DIY product, we represent an alternative (we will do it for you) service.

    In tax prep there are products like TurboTax that millions use (or at least attempt to use) which is awesome for the DIY crowd or those with simple finances.  However, there are also companies like H&R Block that will do the work for you.  TurboTax and similar products are a $1B+ a year industry.  H&R Block alone is $4.4B in revenue.   

    We think in personal finance there should be the same type of options.  The secret is in the automation of the process and automatic decisioning in order to scale what is essentially a professional service.  Balance brings together the right service offering and high tech scalability to deliver this alternative.

    Personal finance is like dieting, people know what to do but just don’t do it.  For those that have the time, energy and diligence to get things on their own, Mint is a great tool.  However, that is not most people and so there financial habits struggle.  Our team is well underway to bringing a scalable alternative to market and look forward to more exciting announcements in the coming months.

    Devin
    CEO
    Balance

  • CPA

    @monkey ratings:  Intuit owns Mint, TurboTax, QuickBooks, Quicken, Paycycle, and some rather large professional tax preparation software that is standard at most accounting firms.  However, with that largeness comes a heavy handed approach to customer service.  Have a question?  Go to our helpful question page, where you can’t be sure that an expert or an ‘expert’ are answering your question.  On their newest Proline Tax, (an online tax program) they actually eliminated the ENTIRE help section. 

    My point isn’t that Intuit has bad products.  Every large company has bad products.  It’s just that there is room to do it BETTER.  And that isn’t a function of more money.  It’s a function of thinking SMARTER.

    My two cent rant after trying to get Mint up and running last week for a customer. :)

    Laura Dodson, CPA
    Blue Stone Accounting

    • andrew buhrmann

      Laura, could not agree more.  Great technology only gets most people so far, at some point they need help, at least in the form of quality service.  At Balance, we bake in that support in a very definitive yet scalable way.

      Also, as a CPA, you may be interested in our Financial Professional programs.  Check it out at our website.

      Devin
      CEO
      Balance

  • Anonymous

    Congratulations Devin!! Wohoo!!

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