Interview between Molly Willats, Head of Program Development for Financial Health at Fintech Cadence and Dan Barton, Co-Founder and COO at Billi Labs, a current fintech in our IFH Lab 2022 Cohort.
Introducing Billi! The operating system for your money
Co-founders Dan Barton and Tyrone Sinclair have been working on building Billi since June of 2021. Last week, they announced that Billi is now available for everyone in Canada to download on iOS and Android! In addition, with the recent launch of Boost – Billi’s credit-building rent feature – Canadians and newcomers to Canada are gaining access to better financial opportunities.
We sat down with Dan to learn more about Billi and what drives these co-founders to keep building.
What is Billi?
We are building Billi with the vision of creating the all-in-one operating system for your money that you carry with you in your pocket. It makes it easy to understand and manage your money in one place and provides the tools and resources to achieve financial wellness.
One of the inspirations to start Billi was the lack of a specific platform to do this for Canadians. Most were internationally based and expanded into Canada. Because of this, many of the neo banks and new fintechs were not integrated. We wanted to change that, but also go beyond just providing a snapshot of your finances. Ultimately, we want to help automate the weekly and monthly financial tasks that you currently do manually, such as paying bills and moving money for savings and investments.
From building your Credit to offsetting your carbon footprint and getting a full picture of your investments, Billi will provide the information you need to make informed financial decisions and the features you need to automate or complete these tasks all in one place.
What’s one thing you’ve taken away from your time in the IFH Lab?
Over the last several months taking part in the IFH Lab, it has been surprising, and exciting, to see how many passionate people are working on financial solutions for Canadians. Being located in Victoria, BC we don’t always get the full picture of how many founders are working on creative financial products to help Canadians. It’s been inspiring and motivating. It also highlights the fact that we are not the only ones experiencing the downside of the lack of innovation for an inclusive Open Banking system in Canada.
How do you stay motivated to keep building Billi, even when things get tough?
I think we both love a good challenge. In fact, when things are going well, it’s easy to get complacent. so I always make sure to have something I am working on that is challenging me to stay motivated. I expect things not to go as planned, so when the unexpected happens I try and find ways to make sure I am grounded and thinking clearly.
Getting a bit more personal, how do you interpret your successes, and the inevitable failures that come along with being a founder?
You go up, you go down and it’s always changing. Remember the people you meet along the way, and act with integrity and authenticity because they will be there on both sides.
That is such great advice, and an important reminder for anyone who is starting a business. Do you have any more words of wisdom you want to share with any aspiring entrepreneurs who may be reading this?
When I started my first business I went all in, and left my full time job where I had a stable income. This put unnecessary pressure on my new business to generate a sustainable income, which limited my opportunities. If I were to provide advice to my younger self, it would be to get creative and find a way to maintain a full time job to provide a steady income, while growing my business to a sustainable spot.
On a related note, if one of our readers were thinking about diving into fintech, where do you see the biggest opportunities or challenges in the space looking at 2023 and beyond?
While progress is being made, Canada must move quickly towards a more open, transparent and trusted banking system to benefit Canadian consumers, and to support innovation and economic growth through the opportunities that Open Banking can provide.
It’s exciting to see some progress being made there, hopefully we see that continue along with greater consumer awareness of what open banking will mean for them! Moving on to something not necessarily fintech related, tell us about a book that has influenced your entrepreneurship journey.
Rich Dad, Poor Dad was one of the first non-fiction books I read in my early 20’s and it changed my mindset and how I think about money and wealth. It also provided the motivation for me to pursue looking into and eventually buying rental properties.
Finally, do you have a motto or words you try to live by?
Always run through the finish line.