Tuesday, April 24

Don't let your finances freak you out

This button at the bottom of pages on wesabe.com takes you to a nice montage of puppy or kitten photos from flickr anytime you get too stressed wrangling with your personal finances. Nice touch.

Frankly my dears, I'm totally over web 2.0 social networking startups that offer yet another way to zap mindless, thoughtless crap to lists of 'buddies' you don't actually know, who are only there because they invited you so they could build their own buddy list bigger than anyone else's. (from henceforth, to be referred to generically as FlirtSpace.com) I'm no longer impressed that you can zap the crap via text, html, audio, video or flash, and it doesn't matter if you can do it from your desktop, your mobile and your set-top box. At the end of the day, you're still zapping crap to each other, and when the market settles down, FlirstSpace social networks come in at a very low CPM.

So how many web 2.0 startup social networks do you know that are building social networks more valuable than FlirtSpace? Hell, I can only think of one - Wesabe.com - and I'm happy to say they appear to be doing a great job of building a monetisable audience by helping people manage their personal finances better.

I'm still wrangling more with how wesabe works than wrangling with my personal finances, but that seems mainly to do with the braindeadedness of Australian banks and their general attitude that it's their financial information, not mine.

Otherwise, so far, I'd say wesabe is a real hit for quickly and easily getting an overview of where your spending and income is at. It also offers a nice slice of social community support, with tips and hints from other users on how to do a better job of managing your financial affairs. Early days yet and they still need to build a critical mass of advice from their users, but already I'm impressed by the quality of some of the tips and breadth of coverage.

Customer support from wesabe is prompt and personal, and the company's management team have to be about the most accessible startup founders I've ever had the pleasure of talking with. Interested to see how that scales as the business grows, but kudos for making such a great start on building a relationship with your customers.

I expect most of wesabe's users are in the US, so features like "average spent on [tag] by all wesabe users last month" would probably be of more use to US users (or users in the Bay Area perhaps!).

I think there's real potential in wesabe for a site that is self-powered by users who find they get as much benefit from being a wesabe member as they get by contributing to it.

I'd much rather see people social networking on wesabe than on myspace. It's probably too late to escape the coming consumer credit crash depression, but a community like wesabe, broadly distributed, could greatly lift the financial awareness and fiscal performance of consumers everywhere. That's got to be a good thing.

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