For many, the finance industry is an enigma, and trying to learn more about it can be both daunting and bewildering. As a result, many people see investing as a totally foreign concept, and view the stock market as an unapproachable whirlwind of numbers, graphs and jargon.
When exploring an industry dominated by business tycoons and investing gurus, it’s common for outsiders to feel overwhelmed and apprehensive. The finance industry’s intimidating aura deepens people’s reluctance to invest and exposes people’s insecurities about their financial awareness.
To help combat this, the founders of the Interest app have made it their goal to change the way individuals, particularly millennials, perceive and manage their money.
When CEO Aaron Froug, 23, and COO Bo Starr, 22, noticed that their generation was having trouble with saving and investing money, they saw an opportunity. Together, they founded Interest — an investment app that makes it simple, easy and fun to put your money away.
Froug graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Economics and minors in both Real Estate and Entrepreneurship. During his college career, Froug spent a summer interning with Fidelity Investments.
“It was great to learn about the finance industry, but there were a lot of things that upset me, like the fact that it’s just not built for people my age,” said Froug.
Over the years, Froug’s discontent with his generation’s financial condition grew.
“I learned that my generation isn’t getting involved in finance and investing because they think it’s too complicated, they think they don’t have enough money, and they don’t think it’s personalized for them,” said Froug.
Froug was having dinner at a friend’s house when he started talking to Starr, who was working on his own company at the time.
“He wanted to create an idea where there was a community of people trading with each other, looking at each other’s portfolios, and understanding finance as a whole,” said Froug. “I loved what he was doing and I was currently working on a business myself, but he ended up bringing me onto his team.”
After adjusting their concept a few times, Froug came up with an idea while his mom was in town for the weekend.
“My mom and I went to Starbucks together and we got two cups of coffee and the cashier said ‘that will be ten dollars’. My mom turned back to me and laughed, saying that she should really own stock for how often she goes to Starbucks, and that was the moment when it just kind of clicked,” said Froug.
Froug brought his idea back to Starr, and after some research, they realized that there was actually a market for their idea and that the venture was worth pursuing.
Before partnering with Starr, Froug had accepted a commercial banking position with JPMorgan in Atlanta. But instead of packing his bags, Froug turned down the offer to stay in Gainesville and develop his idea for Interest.
Interest is an app that rounds up your everyday purchases and automatically invests the spare change in the brands, companies and products you use. For example, if you spend $3.50 on a cup of coffee at Starbucks, Interest rounds up your purchase to $4 and invests the extra 50 cents in Starbucks stock.
“Our goal is to create an app that doesn’t feel, look, or interact like a normal finance industry app,” said Froug. “There’s no more graphs, no more stock ticker symbols, there’s nothing financial. We’re trying to be something that’s part of your life and that’s light and fun and easy to use.”
While there are other apps on the market that invest your spare change, they lack the clarity and personalization that Interest offers.
Like Interest, the Acorns app invests spare change; however, the money is invested in an Exchange Traded Fund instead of being invested directly in the companies. This leaves users wondering where their money is actually going.
Other close competitors in the market charge a hefty fee for their services. Interest charges users $1 a month to help cover company costs, and in turn is able to provide users with automated access to investing and unlimited trades 24/7.
The Interest team is working hard to develop the technology and finalize the app in hopes of launching it by the end of the year.
“It’s been so much learning,” said 21-year-old Kyley Hagan, the Head of Marketing at Interest. “I feel like we’re constantly working but there’s just so much to learn, especially when you’re starting your own business.”
“What makes it worth it for us is seeing people’s reactions,” said Froug. “Just this concept alone, as weird as it sounds, brings people happiness because it’s actually something for everyone. It’s an opportunity for people to grow their money that hasn’t been there before, and now people are actually excited about their finances.”
For more information or to join the waiting list, visit www.joininterest.com.
By Lauren Vehar