By Palau Shavin
Have you ever been in this position: It’s nearing the end of the week and checking your wallet reveals only a few singles, leaving you wondering what happened to all your money. Or it’s coming to the end of the month, and you want to know just how much you’ve spent so far. Are you overbudget? Or have you managed to save some money?
Unless you’re in the habit of writing all your expenses down in a ledger at the end of every day, or inputting it into software such as Quicken in your computer, you really have no way of knowing for sure where your hard-earned cash is going. This is where mobile personal budgeting apps come in.
There are several in the market but, as the developers at Lentor Solutions Sdn Bhd will tell you, they are not nearly as intuitive as they should be.
“So we decided to see if we could come up with our own app for this purpose,” says Allen Ding, chief executive officer of Lentor, which was set up in November 2012.
Lentor was started by four young men with interests in the development of mobile apps, and who wanted to make their own products that are world class.
“There’s no reason in this day and age to think locally,” the 32-year-old Ding tells Business Circle from the company’s office at Publika Solaris Dutamas.
“Mobile is becoming the big thing. Here at Lentor, we are passionate about apps, we are passionate about the web,” he says.
One of Lentor’s more well-known products is AirChant.com, a regional contact database for businesses, which was launched in April 2012. It is a simple yet powerful tool that allows businesses to reach their contacts through text messaging, email or even social media.
Ding (pic) says once you import your contacts, you can view with demographically, by age, gender, etc., to allow for targeted messaging. For example, if you were bringing in a concert featuring a teen idol, then you would rightly target the younger age group, and that’s what this software allows you to do.
According to its website, Lentor’s core mission is simple: create ‘kick-ass’ apps, and have fun doing it. And this philosophy carries through in it apps.
Tracking your expenses
Take Saved for instance. The app was fashioned as a tool to make budgeting and tracking your expenses simple. Saved helps you visualise your budget and savings daily, monthly or yearly to track how much you’ll be able to spend on your loved ones, holidays, interests, and vacations.
Ding says about last year, the company decided to focus on coming out with their own products instead of working on projects for clients.
“While playing around with personal budgeting apps, we came up with the idea of doing our own, something that was simpler to us. We like to eat our own dog food, as we like to call it,” says Ding, referring to Lentor’s eight-man app development team.
What followed was three months of development for both the iOS and Android platform with an initial investment of about RM100,000.
Saved, which is available in 12 languages, was launched on January 1 this year on the Apple’s App Store and January 4 on Google Play. Response for the free app has been good, with about 100,000 + downloads so far, with “a few hundred a day now”.
The app is fairly stripped down – it basically gives a graphical visualisation of your expenses, and the ability to input in purchases in different currencies and converts them, but not much else – but Ding says this was intentional as “we wanted a budgeting app that people would use every day”.
The reasoning is that a person is not likely to use the app if it gets too complicated. There’s an in-app purchase for those who want to input more than 100 items amount. Ding says Saved Pro (at US$2.99) will have a few additional features, based on the feedback from users.
“It was the top finance app in South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Brunei and Vietnam after Apple featured it,” says Ding, who adds that their target market is the everyday Joe who wants a simple app to monitor expenses.
Saved version 1.1, which has just been released for iOS, and features a better design and improved features, including a graphic visualisation of what you’ve spent your money on according to categories. Sadly, don’t expect an update for the Android version any time soon.
Ding said Lentor is putting Android into maintenance mode at the moment as they have not been able to generate enough revenue on it.
“So at the moment we are planning to focus on iOS to discover what works and is viable for the business, and then do a port of the features to Android. The upside is that we will be able to focus our development resources since we are a small company, but the downside is that Android will lag behind in terms of functionality,” he said.
As for the future, Ding said that last year, Lentor did 75% products for clients, and 25% of its own.
“This year we hope to reverse that.”