[App Fridays] With their ‘shared expenses’ app, KnoDues, IBS Hyderabad and TAPMI alumni help people manage friendshipsHarshith Mallya
“In God we trust; all others must pay cash.”
Having a clear overview of your personal and startup’s financial health is extremely important, but most of us tend to ignore them till it is too late. While looking back at their expenses at the end of the month, most people don’t have a clear overview of where they have spent their money and if they have any pending bills to pay to enterprises and friends. While personal finance apps can help users with the former, keeping track of ‘shared expenses’ with friends can get complicated. KnoDues, an app developed by alumni of IBS Hyderabad and TAPMI, aims to help users keep their friendships and money intact.
What is it?
KnoDues is a smartphone app designed to ease out the complications faced in tracking and splitting of shared expenses among friends and loved ones. The app helps users keep tabs on all their dues at any point in time and also encourages users to settle them in a timely fashion.
The founders are positioning the app as a ‘Shared Expenses Buddy’ to help users record their shared expenses, keep track of all their dues, and split them easily. With a built-in chat based tool, KnoDues aims to take the hassle out of writing on notepads, utilising calculators and spreadsheets to tabulate and split bills.
Create groups (events): Users can get automated and simplified event summaries for holidays, trips or shared flats, apartments. Friends can add the expenses paid by them and get an instant summary of “who owes how much to whom” for a particular event.
Mobile number based: The app relies on user’s mobile numbers instead of email IDs or other credentials. So even if users don't have the app installed, they will receive SMS updates about their dues from their friends who have the app installed.
Reminders: Enables users to remind friends for their dues through push notifications. The aim is to help avoid awkwardness that may arise during face-to-face reminders.
Story so far
Co-Founders, Saket Bagda and Sahil Sethi were friends from pre-university and also pursued graduation from Christ University, Bangalore. Saket had secured his MBA from IBS Hyderabad and worked with Ernst & Young. While Sahil earned his MBA from TAPMI, Manipal, and worked with CRISIL in the Credit Ratings division.
While staying together they realised the hassles involved in managing expenses and splitting them fairly. While the expenses were small initially, over time they grew out of control and the volumes also increased. Sahil added,
Hanging out with friends, going for movies, dinners is fun and much needed for all of us. But calculating split shares and keeping a track of dues is a pain. If mismanaged, friendships can turn sour.
So based on their personal pain-point and market validation from their peers, they started out with KnoDues. Apart from the two co-founders, KnoDues presently has a team of four techies working on Android and iOS platforms and two graphic designers working on creative and branding materials, on contractual basis.
KnoDues went live on the Google PlayStore on August 24, 2015, and currently has about 1500+ users, average rating of 4.7 from 160 users. Currently bootstrapped, they aim to raise an external round of funding in the future to help them accelerate their progress. The team is currently seeding their product and focussing on adding more features and growing their user base. Hence, their current focus hasn't been on monetisation.
Sahil added that they have multiple plans in the pipeline and are exploring both B2B and B2C channels to generate revenue in the future, based on customer response and traction. So far they have relied on word of mouth marketing and their peer groups to spread the word about the product.
Their future plans involve adding payment integration features that will allow users to settle their dues within the app itself. This would help users close the loop immediately and would position KnoDues as an end-to-end product. They are also currently working on an iOS app and a web version of their product.
The concept of ‘shared economy’ is picking up in India and is currently being utilised by cab aggregators with relative success (in cab pooling). With the ever-increasing growth of nuclear families and bachelors sharing accommodation, managing expenses together in a hassle-free and transparent manner will help people save hours of their time and also attain peace of mind. Globally, Splitwise is a leader in this space and had raised USD 1.4 million till December 2014. Talking about the competition, Sahil added,
Our USP is our focus on utilising mobile numbers instead of email ids, which we feel is not very effective in a country like India. I probably have all my friends phone numbers, but barely know any of their email ids.
Splitwise currently supports Paypal payment integration. Some other interesting apps in this sector are Happay, a business expense management solution for SMEs, and SmartSpends, a personal finance app launched recently by Times Internet.
What we liked
KnoDues is a well designed and thought out app. The focus on mobile numbers instead of other credentials increases its functionality and usefulness. Other minor features such as the ability to split bills ‘unevenly’ or ‘evenly’ among friends adds to the appeal.
Sahil also added that presently there is no upper limit to the number of people that can be added to an event or to an expense, which is a useful feature while dealing with large groups of people. The in-app chat and ‘reminder’ button are much needed add-on tools. They ensure context and also prevents discussion about finance spilling over to other chat apps or oral conversations.
What could be improved
Currently the app lives up to its name, but is not a complete solution without the payment integration features. Also adding local language support for languages, such as Hindi and other regional languages in the future iterations, will help the app grow organically and reach a larger user base.
Another feature that would be useful to have is the ability to generate monthly expense reports to help users visualise where they have been spending their money and take necessary action if needed. While their current focus is on ‘shared expenses’, Sahil confirmed that they have got requests from users to include personal finance features in the app to help users better manage their money before going for an outing with friends.
KnoDues provides an interesting value proposition for both bachelors and married folks to manage their expenses in their multiple social groups, without worrying about awkward conversations and other social faux pas. With an experienced but lean team from diverse backgrounds, it will be interesting to see how KnoDues goes about developing the app and also which route they take for their monetisation strategies.
What do you think about this app, do let us know in the comments below. Also do check out other apps under our App Fridays series.