This morning Splitwise, a Providence, Rhode Island-based startup, announced that it has closed a $20 million Series A.
The company builds consumer fintech software that helps users split expenses. But Splitwise isn’t a Venmo or Paytm clone. Instead of helping users wire money to their pals, the company leaves the transference of money to others. Splitwise simply wants to help reduce the stress and awkwardness that money puts on relationships of all sorts, CEO Jon Bittner told TechCrunch in an interview.
Roommates, partners, married couples with distinct finances, or just friends going on skiing trips all have to deal with shared expenses. And tracking down your friends or spouse or roomie for their cut of a cost is zero fun. Splitwise’s software makes it easier to track and come to terms with shared expenses. By keeping those costs in the open, and who owes whom, the app wants to keep debts clear so that folks don’t have to trip over each other when it comes to money.
The product concept has found a global audience. Per Bittner, Splitwise has attracted tens of millions of registered users who have shared or managed what it calculates to be $90 billion since 2011. The startup declined to share active user numbers, but as it is merely raising a Series A, we gave it an early-stage pass on more concrete usage metrics.
Because Splitwise leaves to others the transference of monies amongst its users, it doesn’t make money off of transaction fees or stored consumer funds. So how does it make cash? By charging users $3 per month for its Pro service. Or more simply, Splitwise offers a consumer subscription to users who need more powerful cost-sharing software.
We lack metrics to illustrate how Splitwise’s subscription user-base looks, but Bittner said the company’s conversion rate from free to paid has not declined as Splitwise’s free user base has scaled. We can infer, however, that as Insight Partners was willing to lead a $20 million investment into the company, its paid subscriber base is growing at at least a reasonable clip.
Before its Series A, Bittner told TechCrunch that his company had raised around $9 million.
Splitwise has long grown organically. As it was able to attract new users without paid spend, it managed to keep its costs low. That meant that it didn’t need to raise venture capital at the same velocity as some other consumer fintech companies. But by keeping its fundraising to a minimum, the company had to be somewhat careful in where it pointed its resources.
Its CEO said the new capital will allow the company to boost its product cadence.
But don’t expect all the money to go to making paid-only features. Splitwise was clear to TechCrunch that it wants its free experience to be sufficiently useful that users are willing to invite their friends to the service without risking bringing them into an overly pushy commercial digital environment.
Its investors seem aligned with the thinking, with Insight Partners’ Boris Treskunov saying in a statement that he’s “excited to see the app become the go-to platform for easy cost-splitting among friends and family.” Mass adoption of that sort will require a robust, free experience. Which means continued spend on the free side of the startup’s freemium product work.
Splitwise is perhaps Providence’s best-known startup, though the recent Y Combinator graduate Pangea is giving it a run for its money lately when it comes to local notoriety. Regardless, the two companies are evidence that it’s possible to build growing tech companies outside of the handful of American cities most associated with startup work. Let’s see what Splitwise can do with its new capital, and what percent of its future hiring winds up being remote, versus local to its main hub.