Spreadsheet (2+2)ever = Tiller Personal Finance Startup Finds Growth Formula in Microsoft Excel – GeekWire

Tiller automatically populates spreadsheets with data from financial institutions. (tiller photo)

Eight years ago, Seattle-area entrepreneur Peter Polson decided to pursue what he saw as a void in the personal finance software market, inspired by his growing family’s increasingly complex need to track their finances, Disappointed with the options available at the time.

Given technology trends, he initially thought it meant mobile apps.

Tiller founder and CEO Peter Poulsen. (tiller photo)

But data aptly offers a different solution. In their initial user research, Polson and the team kept finding a bunch of passionate spreadsheet fanatics. At first, they thought the group was a lost cause. They will never let them switch to a mobile app. Then they realize: these are their people.

The result is Tiller Money, a subscription service that populates customizable spreadsheets using automated data feeds from banks and other financial institutions – tracking spending, income with the help of templates and a community of users who share solutions and workflows , investment and budget.

After initially prioritizing Google Sheets, Tiller has been enhancing Microsoft Excel since last year based on the popularity of the then limited Excel solution.

The payoff comes from an announcement in May that Microsoft would recommend Tiller to its Microsoft 365 subscribers, offering Tiller a 60-day free trial, twice the normal length. Tiller costs $79 per year after a trial.

Microsoft also announced that it will discontinue its own solution, Money in Excel, one year later, on June 30, 2023. Money in Excel launched in June 2020. Explaining the decision, Microsoft said it wanted to focus on other areas where the company felt it could have a bigger impact.

With the news, Tiller’s Excel users exploded. Previously, most of the company’s subscribers were Google Sheets users, but that has changed, with Excel representing most of its new customers. Signups have more than doubled since Microsoft made the announcement, the company said.

This makes sense given the size of Microsoft’s user base, which has more than 58 million consumer subscribers to Microsoft 365 as of the Redmond company’s most recent earnings report.

Polson sees it as part of a larger trend.

“I feel like spreadsheets are in a huge renaissance right now,” he said. “The way people use spreadsheets, the scalability of spreadsheets, is booming. There are so many companies that are building on spreadsheets and making them stronger to support everything we do every day.” 1

Thieler, he said, “is an example.”

The company was formally established in 2016 and currently has 14 employees. Tiller has raised an undisclosed amount from what Polson describes as “sophisticated tech investors,” mostly in the Seattle area. Polson said the company has reached break-even point and is starting to turn a profit.

The company did not disclose specific subscriber numbers, but said it had tens of thousands of customers. It has an average rating of 4.7 stars on the Google Workspace Marketplace based on nearly 50,000 installs.

Tiller comes with a series of safety precautions. The company said it will never see the usernames and passwords customers enter at their financial institutions to authorize the automated feed of financial data that populates spreadsheets. The company is also an early adopter of Envestnet | Yodlee’s open banking technology, which enables access to banking data without sharing usernames and passwords.

Tiller CEO Peter Polson worked as a university intern at Microsoft Money.

Tiller’s partnership with Microsoft brings Polson through a complete cycle. As a college student, he interned at Microsoft Money as a project manager building tax functionality into new versions of the software.

“I always thought it was ironic and funny, because how much does a college student know about taxes?” he recalls. “I know very little about personal finance, but very little about taxes.”

An alumnus of Seattle’s Lakeside School, he graduated from Middlebury College with an MBA from Dartmouth College and was a JP Morgan Chase Technology M&A Analyst before entering the wireless industry. Before being acquired by HTC for $18.5 million in 2013, he was the CEO of Dashwire, a Seattle-area cell phone backup service.

After he and his wife had their second child, he revisited the market for personal finance technology, and he wanted a more sophisticated tool to manage their family’s finances. Although at the same time the market had turned to web and mobile technology, led by Intuit Mint, he wanted something more powerful and flexible.

This eventually leads back to spreadsheets. It’s the only service that provides automated financial information to Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel on a daily basis, Tiller said.

Polson noted that people need to look more closely at their money in response to the “overwhelming investment in technology that accelerates spending,” including Amazon’s one-click, delayed payment service, credit card offers and other strategies. Often, saving money is just about focusing on what you spend.2

The next step on Tiller’s roadmap: Bringing its automatic classification feature, known as “AutoCat,” into the Excel version of its service. This allows users to set up rules to classify different types of transactions. It’s a welcome feature in the Google Sheets version of Tiller, and the company says it will be releasing this summer in Excel for Tiller users.

1 When asked to elaborate, Polson said: “Other examples of companies building on existing spreadsheets like Google Sheets and Excel include DataRails, GlideApps.com, GoLayer and SuperMetrics. Companies launching new spreadsheet competitors include Spreadsheet.com , Coda, Equals and Row.”

2 I’ve been experimenting with Tiller for a 60 day free trial for Microsoft 365 users, and so far I’ve found that $47/month subscriptions for various services we no longer need, don’t know we still have, or otherwise forgot to cancel.

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