This week I spoke with BillMonk cofounders Gaurav Oberoi and Chuck Groom. You can download the podcast by clicking here (MP3, 16.6MB, 18 minutes) clicking below. BillMonk is a free, "social money" web service to keep track of bills amongst friends. The friends focus is an important differentiator from other services.
BillMonk plans to add bill paying functionality onto the website, which will add a revenue source for the company. BillMonk has viral functionality naturally built-in by not requiring your debtors be registered users in order to be added as owing you money. All you need is their email address.
BillMonk's approach is pretty natural in that it is built to help friends sort out debts amongst friends in a simple way. Reminders of debts can be sent to friends automatically, in turn causing the bill to be paid without straining relationships by playing debt collector and friend at the same time.
As Chuck points out on the podcast, BillMonk could be particularly useful for college students who are frugal and particularly need to keep track of expenses. Gaurav pointed out that BillMonk is also good for large bills like vacations where there are several people who attend and there needs to be an easier way to share expenses in a transparent way.
By the end of the month, they expect 10,000 users and are growing at 7% per month. It will be interesting to see how BillMonk approaches building a "moat" around the business. PayPal could, for example, offer a service like BillMonk and can already offer credit card processing. However, PayPal has competitive pressures of its own from Google Checkout, so BillMonk may have an opportunity to operate without direct competition from PayPal.
BillMonk podcast questions:
- What is BillMonk? (0:15)
- How did BillMonk get started, and how are you getting so much press? (1:09)
- Who do you consider to be your competitors? Have you looked at raising money to compete? (4:25)
- What do you think about swapping/barter websites? (5:47)
- Clearly, both of you are very commited to BillMonk. When did you reach the point of great commitment? What is the business model? (12:00)
- How many users do you have? And how fast are you growing? (14:40)
- I read on your blog that when you went on a roadtrip down to Google, you talked then about your "20-year plan." Can you elaborate on that?