For Spend Wisely, completed July 2011.
Spend Wisely is the creator of Chext, a tool that helps couples manage their money through easy text-based interactions. Individuals on the Mutually Human team, primarily Ryan Montgomery, were responsible for founding, developing, designing and marketing the platform.
Chext is a money management platform for couples and others who share a checking account. Using simple text-based interactions, customers can track, plan, and anticipate their balance. Through SMS notifications of any spending activity, Chext facilitates instant communication between partners. This can take the financial tension out of a relationship and keep conversations from turning into arguments.
Chext is the flagship product of SpendWisely, which was co-founded by Jeff Bell and Ryan Montgomery. Ryan was formerly Mutually Human’s Business Development Manager, and he worked for us as a Ruby Developer. Almost everyone at Mutually Human has had their hands on Chext at some point, whether it be design, ux, development or marketing. It’s emblematic of our team’s talent for creating a product from scratch and driving it all the way to launch.
How Chext Works
When you make a purchase, text the amount to Chext, and both you and your partner will receive immediate feedback on your balance. This tool helps you stay on top of your budget, whether or not the charges have already been reflected through online banking. Chext also helps you anticipate future bills so there are no surprises later.
Users can access Chext through a web browser for additional features, like the calendar view. The calendar view enables the subscriber to experiment with their cash flow and moderate spending to prepare for larger purchases in the future.
With a low monthly fee and compatibility with any SMS-capable device, Chext is one of the few low-cost options for couples to track and manage spending as it happens.
Because Chext was bootstrapped and built from the ground up, we had to focus on business development as much as we focused on design and development. Of course, all of these areas are connected. Ryan took three months in 2011 to participate in Momentum, a Michigan-based incubator for start-ups. There, he developed the prototype and honed the messaging which would become the springboard for the growth of Chext. Ryan’s company became a client of Mutually Human’s, and we became participants in its progress.
When creating and marketing the new product, we realized that, in some ways, Chext goes against customer assumptions. Chext operates independently from online banking, so card purchases aren’t deducted automatically and must be texted in. Although Chext is as easy to use as sending a standard text message, convincing customers to change their expectations and behaviors is difficult. Even when active participation guarantees reliable knowledge of your finances, the slight inconvenience of participation can be a drawback.
However, one of the deeper goals of Chext is to cultivate a habit of conscientious spending, so purchases must be self-reported. We decided to support and clarify that goal with more useful content on money management. Chext also partnered with financial experts to get your questions answered and supplement the advantages of using Chext.
Working Alongside Mutually Human
Ryan’s experience in concepting and creating Chext has given him irreplaceable first-hand knowledge on product development. In addition to programming, he got his hands dirty with market research and user experience. Our UX Designer, Samuel Bowles, also worked extensively on the project with user testing and interface design.
This product perfectly demonstrates how our skills work from concept to completion. With the exception of Jeff Bell, Chext was created entirely by people at Mutually Human.
In addition to Chext, other products developed by Mutually Human, such as Scout, Syncr, and the Quickbooks RubyGem, give us a unique empathy for our clients. Our clients have invested time, money, and passion into products they believe in. The successful launch and ongoing viability of our products have, in a very real way, shown us what it takes to create something beautiful, purposeful, and marketable, out of nothing more than an idea.