Finance / Startups

This Wilmington startup wants to help you pay your bills, bills, bills

With all your subscriptions, exactly how much are your spending each month? That's where RenZen comes in.

RenZen hopes to launch in 2017. (Courtesy logo)

The name comes from a combination of Chinese Buddhist characters meaning altruism and intuition. The goal is to remedy some of the most common money management errors people make today.
Meet RenZen, a Wilmington startup that is looking to cover all the bases when it comes to financial literacy.
Created by UD grads William Betteridge and Michael Gallagher, RenZen is an application that will allow users to keep track of all their bills and payments in one singular location and give users the ability to pay on time with a single swipe.
“We’re looking to have people forecast their expenses,” Betteridge said. “[We’ll] automate the payment systems so you can see the payment coming in every week and you can estimate how much your expenses are going to be each month.” Betteridge has done stints as a business development consultant for Uber and a city operations manager for short-term rental service company Pillow Homes in D.C.
Gallagher, who’s a director at business network BNI Delaware Valley Regions, noted the importance of this feature because, he said, so few of us actually realize how numerous our expenses actually are.
“We live in a model now where so many people have subscriptions — you have Hulu, HBO, Netflix,” Gallagher said. “You can have anything at any time, and by putting that all into the app in one place you start to realize how many bills you actually have.”

So many people don’t know what credit is and that’s dangerous.

RenZen also aims to connect people with low interest loans as a way to combat the severe, painfully high interest nature of so many of the loan options available today.
“So many people all run into the same problem, which is when you don’t have the money to pay your bills, you take money from a place and you have to pay that money back at extremely high interest rates all the way up to interest rates at 400 percent,” Gallagher said. “It’s absurd.”
That’s why Gallagher and Betteridge want to increase the scope of RenZen to include loan options.
“If you find that you’re not going to be able to meet your financial obligation, you’ll be able to find alternative means directly through the app to get loans directly to you,” Betteridge said.
The year-old venture is unique in another way as well; Betteridge and Gallagher say they aren’t in it for the cash. Instead, the duo wants RenZen to be a company built on unselfish interests.
“That’s where the idea came from; there was a problem without a solution,” Gallagher said. “You can create companies all day long but if you create a solution, that’s something people will get behind.”
Betteridge seconds that notion.
“This business isn’t about making money,” he said. “It’s about doing the right thing. We want to help people get through [financial difficulties] and not end up in a place where they have their things taken away from them. The profit and financial gain is less important than helping people.” (Though, we’ll add here that profit is surely important when it comes to being able to provide a high-quality service.)
RenZen is currently in development stages and building a waitlist for a trial run that will last anywhere from six months to a year. Those who sign up for the trial will be able to use the first generation app free of charge.
For Betteridge and Gallagher, RenZen has the potential to provide diverse opportunities for financial education.
Down the road, the two are looking to open public forums throughout the region with the goal of teaching locals about finances in person, not just through the digital app.
“So many people don’t know what credit is and how it affects them and that’s dangerous,” Gallagher said. “We’re trying to build face to face interaction and build out from that.”
Overall, Betteridge and Gallagher want RenZen to fill a gap in the community, and in doing so, lessen the financial strain that so many people struggle with daily.
“More than anything else it’s about teaching people to be mindful, to know what the future has to come, in a world where a lot of things go by the wayside,” Gallagher said.

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