When Yahya Mokhtarzada got a $40 bill from Gogo, he started taking a closer look at the subscriptions on his bank statement. It turned out that he had been subscribed to the service for more than a year — which racked up to a substantial amount of money.
“I called them to give me a refund on it, which was nice, but I said how many people are out there that have these subscriptions out there,” Mokhtarzada said. “So we built that, showed it to my mom and family, they found subscriptions [they didn’t know they had]. So we polished it up a bit, and we started digging into the data.”
The result was TrueBill, a company launching out of beta today. TrueBill works with companies like Plaid to sift through bank statements and determine what subscriptions users have. Users can then monitor those subscriptions and, through an automated process, unsubscribe to them.
For the first unsubscribe, TrueBill has to figure out how the process works. But, for example, when it determines that just an email to support with some information cancels the subscription, that process is automated. Mokhtarzada said the service can only read financial statements in order to match subscriptions either to a white list, or checking for recurring purchases, and works to ensure that the data is secure.
All this is thanks to the proliferation of subscription models for companies, which can range from streaming music to consumer goods like Dollar Shave Club razors. Large companies like Apple and Google are also shifting some of their services to more of a subscription model, like Apple Music and YouTube Red.
“For the most part companies do subscription models because it makes sense for them and the consumer, it’s a lower barrier for entry to the consumer,” Mokhtarzada said. “The problem is, as people rack up more subscriptions, managing them becomes almost impossible. If I go to Thailand I have to call in and cancel nine subscriptions or more, it’s likely I just don’t do it. There needs to be one plat that manages all these subs.”
There are competitors like Trim, which also help users unsubscribe to unwanted subscriptions. But TrueBill’s goal is not to just eliminate junk subscriptions, Mokhtarzada says. He believes people will increasingly subscribe to more subscriptions — and there’s an opportunity to help guide users to the best subscriptions. For example, if a user is subscribed to a sub-par music streaming experience (we won’t name names), TrueBill can recommend a more popular one that they can subscribe to.
“We want to get to the point where we’re signing up more subs than canceling,” he said. “They’re a great thing if they’re managed properly. The trend of subscriptions becoming more and more of a part of a life and replacing the ways we spend money, it’s not gonna reverse, and [there needs to be] a platform that makes managing a number of increasing subscriptions easier.”