PocketSmith picks up Xero customers

PocketSmith co-founder Jason Leong says his company is focused on helping people make better decisions with their money. Photo by Craig Baxter.
PocketSmith co-founder Jason Leong says his company is focused on helping people make better decisions with their money. Photo by Craig Baxter.
When PocketSmith co-founder Jason Leong heard Xero intended winding down its personal finance product, he quickly got in touch with chief executive Rod Drury.

Following discussions between the two companies, the cloud-based online accounting company felt PocketSmith was the ''right fit'' to take on its Xero Personal customers.

Last month, it recommended PocketSmith to those customers and users have been shifting over ever since.

PocketSmith, which was founded in June, 2008, and is based in Dunedin and Auckland, offers a simple budgeting software tool that can help people manage their finances.

Users were primarily from the United States (about 65%) with the rest spread throughout 180 countries.

It has 85,000 users at present.

Xero Personal's users were mostly from New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Since announcing its closure, the company disclosed it had 12,000 paying customers.

Like Xero Personal, PocketSmith offered live bank feeds, and its coverage extended to about 15,000 institutions worldwide.

It was probably the only other personal finance application in New Zealand, Mr Leong believed.

PocketSmith was a ''minnow'' compared with Xero, which Mr Leong described as a remarkable company that was ''growing like crazy''.

''It's probably the first of the massive Silicon Valley-style companies here in New Zealand,'' he said.

Personal finance was a ''really exciting space'' and he was fascinated with what was going on in that sphere.

Consumers were become more educated, they understood the tools better and they understood how powerful the cloud could be.

PocketSmith was focused on helping people make better decisions with their money, he said.

What the company did was unique, especially in terms of cash projections, and there was constant refinement, based on feedback from customers.

There were some ''amazing stories'' among its users, which ranged from octogenarians to ''famous people'', including a fashion designer in New York and her celebrity chef husband.

Mr Leong recently heard of a family who got together once a week to use PocketSmith to plan their finances.

''Those stories really make our day,'' he said.

When PocketSmith first started, Mr Leong admitted he was enamoured with the idea of running a start-up and ''just wanted to have a cool company''.

A lot of younger entrepreneurs coming through now had a much clearer vision, he said.

He expected 2014 to be a big year for PocketSmith and that the company would keep growing. It had doubled in size at least every year for the past few years.

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