- Entrepreneur Jason Brown wants people to think of his personal-finance app Tally like a washing machine
- Most people don’t think about how much time and stress washing machines save them.
- Brown’s endgame is for Tally is “a world where all of your financial decisions and financial work will be done invisibly.”
If entrepreneur Jason Brown had his way, people would think of his technology like they do washing machines.
That is to say, they would barely think of it at all.
Brown is the cofounder and CEO of Tally, a personal-finance app that uses an innovative method to reduce credit-card debt. Founded in 2015, Tally consolidates the debt customers accrue over multiple credit cards, pays off the debt, and then charges customers a lower interest rate than they initially had. The San Francisco-based company raised $25 million earlier this year and has raised $42 million overall.
So what does any of that have to do with washing machines?
“A lot of the truly transformative technologies end up being so taken for granted that they’re not even seen anymore,” Brown told Business Insider.
Before the electric washing machine, Brown said, American families spent nearly 500 hours a year washing their clothes and linens by hand. When the machines became widely available in the early 1900s, that figure shrank to one or two hours a week.
That gave people more time to spend with their families, work, study, or do anything else that enriched their lives in a way manual chores didn’t.
“Suddenly, this functional load that we had was completely taken off of us, and regular people had what rich people already had, which, they had people they paid to do that for them,” Brown said at the Fintech Inclusion Summit in October. “But now it was available at a low cost for everybody.”
Today, the washing machine is so ubiquitous that it would be hard to imagine life without it.
And Brown envisions the same future for Tally.
“Right now, the idea that somebody else is making your financial decisions and moving your money around sounds pretty crazy and out there,” Brown told Business Insider. “But in 10 or 15 years we won’t even realize that that’s happening, because it’s just like, ‘Oh yeah, I have my Tally, and I ask it questions, it tells me things, but otherwise it’s just churning every single day and makes me better off.'”
“It will be so present, we won’t even know it exists,” he said. “We will have a world where all of your financial decisions and financial work will be done invisibly.”
Brown also has personal reasons for founding Tally. Growing up, he said, money was a source of anxiety for his family that prevented his parents from being “fully present” at times.
On a larger scale, American credit-card debt recently hit an all-time high, surpassing the $1 trillion mark in August, while the average American household is more than $5,000 in debt. Studies show that debt contributes to stress and depression.
By having Tally consolidate and reduce people’s credit-card debt, it can free up time, and more importantly, make them happier, he said.
“It will be conceptually taking this anxiety that’s on their shoulders and putting it on the shoulders of machines,” Brown said. “They won’t know any better because it’s the way things will have always been. But we’ll be taking burden off of people’s lives and erasing that from the human experience.”