Partners / Co-founders
Tadas J. Nikulin, Jason Reposa
Founder’s Age when company was started
Alex – 25, Tadas – 26, Jason – 28
Tell us about your background (education, etc)
Earning a degree in Business Administration from Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada, I quickly moved to New York in February of 2006 where I hoped to begin a career in digital advertising. After two years of managing and developing online consumer interfaces, along with integrating media campaigns for several major brands. Myself, along with my two business partners made the decision to develop and launch MyBankTracker.com in August of 2008, to provide a more consumer-oriented banking information portal.
Tell us about your company and your inspiration for starting it.
After years of developing online consumer interfaces for financial institutions such as ING Direct, Citibank, TD Bank (formerly Commerce Bank) and Van Kampen, my partners and I realized a disconnect between the consumer personal finance experience and that of which we were developing for these institutions. At that point, we made the decision to develop a financial portal that allows consumers who desire a level of transparency and ease of user to assist them in their ability to make smart banking decisions.
Bootstrap or Funding?
Bootstrap all the way. My two partners and I were able to keep costs low by developing everything in house. MyBankTracker.com is 100% organically grown and we are extremely proud of this fact.
Describe any major challenges overcome or difficult decisions while you built your business.
The biggest challenge faced when building our business was developing a user experience that consumers would find valuable. Knowing that we would be looking to launch with one of the most comprehensive lists of products and tracked institutions, creating an experience that allowed for a seamless flow of information through a synergistic approach meant redesigning the site multiple times before it finally was at a level that was user friendly for consumers of all levels.
What surprised you the most?
The influx of competition within the personal finance vertical. When we were developing MyBankTracker.com, there was little to no properties that offered what we do; now a new personal finance site pops up every other week. We do not see this increase in popularity around personal finance a bad thing, but actually a benefit as it forces everyone to offer the best product they can and in the end the consumer wins.
What would you do differently?
The biggest challenge we currently face is growing our brand. In the beginning we made the choice to focus on SEO and can proudly say, we have seen great success, but overall our brand value has a ways to go. In the last month we have shifted our business strategy to focus on increasing the awareness of MyBankTracker.com. If we were to do it over again, we would have split our focus 50/50 brand awareness versus SEO to allow both to grow together.
Is this your first business?
Personally, this is my first business, but for my business partners’, this is not. This has been helpful especially around internal operations, such as hiring and payroll.
How many employees do you have?
At this time MyBankTracker.com has 9 employees that range from writers, developers and research analysis.
What has been your most effective marketing technique or tactic?
SEO has by far been our greatest tactic. Though time consuming, the effort to ensure MyBankTracker.com scored around the most important keywords has generated an exceptional return. We are constantly tweaking this tactic to add new keywords and grow our market share through organic search.
Additionally, our focus on building a unique personal finance blog that offers relevant content without the heavy jargon, helped us speak to an audience that is looking to learn how to manage their money properly.
What effect has the recession had on your business?
Interestingly enough, the recession had the opposite effect on our business. As more consumers began to question their local or online bank, online searches around understanding what was going on increased. MyBankTracker.com became a great source to both help and guide consumers during this process.
If you could offer one piece of concrete advice to other people, what would it be?
Be your own biggest advocate. Everyone is always looking for the next big thing and if you believe in your product or services, there are a number of startup events / meet ups that will allow you to present and get the word out about who you are and why people should be paying attention to you.
Best book you’ve read recently?
“It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be” by Paul Arden, a great creative director from Saatchi and Saatchi.
All time favorite TV series?
As a child, hands down it was Transformers, but I think I would have to say Arrested Development. A shame it only lasted 3 seasons.