Peter Polson started Tiller out of frustration with the tools available to manage his money. In high school in the early 90's, Polson taught computer classes as a side job. His standard curriculum included Word and Quicken. Later in college, he worked for Microsoft on their Microsoft Money tool.

In 2016, despite having loads of software that helps us navigate traffic jams, track our fitness, and communicate with friends, most people are still in the dark about their money.

Consequently, Polson and his team at Tiller have set out to solve this fundamental issue.

What's Obvious and Popular May Not Necessarily Be Right

When Polson and his team first started building Tiller, they went for iOS, because that's where all great software gets started these days, right?

That's what they thought.

However, as they built the Tiller app, they also talked with lots of people about money.

They'd ask, "How do you keep tabs on your spending and money?"

According to Polson, many of their conversations confirmed their business case: most people don't know what their credit card bill will be at the end of the month.

Whether they're deeply in debt or have enough money that they can afford anything, one thing is universal: we all hate not knowing where our money goes.

Despite this reality, most people still don't know where their money goes.

Do you?

If you're like most people, you've attempted tracking, or spreadsheets before.

You've promised yourself time and again you'd be more on-top of your money. But for some reason, you can't seem to do it, right?

How To Find Your Target Market: Ask

Polson and his team found a few people who used software tools with some satisfaction, but most tried a tool but didn't stick with it.

The tools didn't work for them.

Interestingly, Polson found one group of people who had their finances completely dialed-in. However, these people didn't use sophisticated software. Rather, they used simple spreadsheets.

Polson and his team dismissed this initially.

Spreadsheets?

Surely this wasn't their target market. Yet, they kept bumping into people using spreadsheets. Some of them had been using the same spreadsheet each month for ten years, and it just worked for them.

Then the dots connected.

People who use spreadsheets actually were Tiller's market. All of these spreadsheet users were going through lot of effort to get their data into a spreadsheet.

Using spreadsheets works because you can design them individually to reflect your goals and the unique way you thought about money.

Polson and his team took this valuable insight and set-off to make spreadsheets even easier, their new software Tiller. Thus, rather than an iOS, Tiller became a spreadsheet software.

Tiller takes spreadsheets and seeks to make them much easier for you by linking your spreadsheet with your bank and automatically feeding your transaction and balance data every day.

Lessons Learned While Creating A New Software Company

Polson and his team learned two lessons while building Tiller.

  1. Never stop talking to customers, and don't tune out the customers who are telling you something different than you expect to hear. They talked to dozens of spreadsheet users before it clicked. According to Polson, "If I was truly listening, this eureka would have come sooner."
  2. You don't need to embrace what's hot and popular to deliver an incredible service to a market in need. Smartphones, virtual reality, and chat bots are all the rage. That's great, but there are unexpected opportunities in the technologies and tools we've been using for many years, like spreadsheets.

How can you apply this to your business?

Published on: Sep 1, 2016
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