Spreadsheets (2 + 2) Always = Personal Finance Startup Tiller Finds Growth Formula in Microsoft Excel – GeekWire

Tiller automatically populates spreadsheets with financial institution data. (Helm photo)

Eight years ago, Seattle area entrepreneur Peter Polson decided to pursue what he perceived as a gap in the personal finance software market, inspired by the increasingly complex needs of his growing family to monitor their finances and disappointed from the options available at the time.

Given the tech trends, he initially thought this meant a mobile app.

Peter Polson, founder and CEO of Tiller. (Helm photo)

But the data, fittingly, offered a different solution. In their initial user research, Polson and the team went on to identify an avid cohort of spreadsheet fanatics. At first, they saw this group as a lost cause. They would never convince them to switch to a mobile app. Then they realized: these were their people.

The result was Tiller, a subscription service that populates customizable spreadsheets with automated data feeds from banks and other financial institutions, tracking expenses, income, investments and budgets with the help of templates and a community of users sharing solutions. and workflows.

After initially prioritizing Google Sheets development, Tiller has stepped up Microsoft Excel since last year, based on the popularity of what was then its limited Excel solution.

The benefit came with the announcement in May that Microsoft would recommend Tiller to its Microsoft 365 subscribers, offering Tiller a 60-day free trial, twice the normal length. Tiller costs $ 79 / year after trial.

Microsoft simultaneously announced that it will discontinue its solution, Money in Excel, in a year’s time, on June 30, 2023. Money in Excel was introduced in June 2020. Explaining the decision, Microsoft cited its desire to focus on other areas where The company believes it can have a greater impact.

With the announcement, Tiller saw an increase in Excel users. Previously, most of the company’s subscribers were Google Sheets users, but now that has changed, with Excel representing the majority of its new customers. Subscriptions have more than doubled since Microsoft’s announcement, the company says.

It makes sense, given the size of Microsoft’s user base, with over 58 million subscribers to Microsoft 365 Consumer according to the company’s most recent earnings report from Redmond.

Polson sees it as part of a larger trend.

“The spreadsheet, I believe, is in a tremendous renaissance right now,” he said. “The way people use spreadsheets, the extensibility of spreadsheets, is blossoming. There are so many companies that rely on spreadsheets and make them more powerful to support all the things we do every day. ” 1

Tiller, he said, “is an example of this.”

Officially founded in 2016, the company has 14 employees. Tiller raised an undisclosed amount of funding from people Polson described as “tech savvy investors,” primarily in the Seattle region. The company has reached a break-even point and is becoming profitable, Polson said.

The company doesn’t disclose specific subscriber numbers, but it claims to have tens of thousands of customers. It has an average rating of 4.7 stars on the Google Workspace Marketplace based on nearly 50,000 installs.

Tiller comes with a number of safety precautions. The company says it never sees the usernames and passwords that customers enter into their financial institutions to authorize the automated feeds of financial data that populate spreadsheets. The company was also one of the first to adopt Envestnet | Yodlee’s open banking technology to access banking data without sharing usernames and passwords.

Tiller CEO Peter Polson worked on Microsoft Money as a college intern.

Tiller’s partnership with Microsoft brings Polson full circle. As a college student, he did an internship as a program manager on Microsoft Money, tasked with integrating tax features into a new version of the software.

“I always thought it was ironic and funny, because what does a college kid know about taxes?” she recalled. “I knew a little about personal finance, but incredibly little about taxes.”

An alum of Seattle’s Lakeside School, he is a graduate of Middlebury College and an MBA from Dartmouth, working as a technology M&A analyst at JP Morgan Chase before entering the wireless industry. He served as CEO of Seattle-area cell phone backup service Dashwire following HTC’s $ 18.5 million acquisition in 2013.

He took a new look at the personal finance technology market after he and his wife had their second child and wanted a more sophisticated tool for managing family finances. While the market had shifted to web and mobile technologies in the meantime, led by Intuit Mint, he wanted something with more power and flexibility.

This eventually led back to the spreadsheet. Tiller says it’s the only service that offers automatic daily finance feeds in Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel.

Polson cited the need for people to pay more attention to their money to counter “an overwhelming investment in technologies to accelerate spending,” including Amazon 1-click, delayed payment services, credit card offers and other tactics. Often, saving money is simply a matter of paying attention to what you’re spending.2

Next on Tiller’s roadmap: bringing its automatic categorization feature, aka “AutoCat”, to the Excel version of its service. This allows users to set up rules to classify different types of transactions. It’s a popular feature in the Google Sheets version of Tiller, and the company says it will be releasing for Tiller users in Excel this summer.

1 Asked to elaborate, Polson said, “Examples of other companies building on existing spreadsheets like Google Sheets and Excel include DataRails, GlideApps.com, GoLayer, and SuperMetrics. Examples of companies launching new spreadsheet competitors include Spreadsheet.com, Coda, Equals and Row “.

2 I’ve tried Tiller using the free 60-day trial for Microsoft 365 users and so far I’ve found $ 47 per month in various subscriptions for services we no longer needed, didn’t know we had yet, or had otherwise forgotten about. to delete.

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