This first article of 2018 covers the business model of Seedly, a personal finance assistant app. We also briefly share our thoughts on the company's growth potential.

What is Seedly?

Seedly is a Singapore-based fintech startup that helps young working adults save time and spend smarter. Seedly acts as a personal finance assistant to give you your overview balances, monthly cashflow and categorises of all your expenses automatically at a click of a button by syncing with all major local banks!

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What is their business model?

As of the time of writing, Seedly is a completely free to use app and started out in 2016. While they are not the only expense/budget tracker around, they appear to be the first Singapore-born product in this area.

Their key value proposition is to enable its users to have a free, one-stop shop for all their financial information regarding income and expenses across all bank accounts in Singapore. Morever, the company provides an unbiased and should work well with all local banks. This equally serves as a new user acquisition channel. Lastly, Seedly is relatively one of the first to the market when it comes to personal finance tool, made in Singapore for Singapore.

For the time being, Seedly has no known revenue model but there are plans in the future to do so. This reminds us of imoney which was an early player comparison website in SEA. Seedly could eventually develop into a platform for its users to find the most appropriate financial product for themselves, which eventually means monetizing on leads generated for these financial products. For this article's analysis, we assumed they will go into lead generation for financial products. Side Note: The team might already be monetizing via advertisement, but likely to be one-time off.

Seedly has been one of the rare smart consumer product in the region to focus on community building as a mean to build their brand awareness, engage with potential and existing users and ultimately, we believe they could monetize directly/indirectly from their community building.

The company has been particularly strong on Facebook with an active community while their blog has racked over 300,000 visitors in December 2017 is an obvious key resource. On the other hand, we believe that their blog content is rather poor with lack of substance. The consistency is their style is present, but this is basic and not enough to provide valuable information to readers.

This is an example of a blog post on Seedly's blog. Short and sweet which seems to work well with busy working professionals.
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Credits: Seedly Blog

They could do more.

Content marketing through blog and Facebook community have been Seedly's key channels for both customer acquisition and retention. They have furthermore started community events in real life, and "Ask Me Anything" via Facebook Live.

Total Addressable Market

We went to play with Google Sheet to guesstimate Seedly's potential in ASEAN with respect to user base and revenue opportunity.
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Based on the most likely revenue model, this could be a conservative expectation of the potential revenue for Seedly in each market.

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Moreover, the revenue opportunity through sponsored content, events and most importantly, paid features through their core product have not been taken into account. The latter would introduce a freemium business model, which might be better suited to Southeast Asia.

Opportunities for Growth

Given that Seedly is still a young company, the opportunities are wide open. They are one of the first to market in Singapore (that we know of), and have already a solid user base including their community followers and readers. Here are a list of what they could develop further:

  1. Content Marketing
  2. Product Virality
  3. Market Expansion
  4. AI
  5. Strategic Partnerships

We will cover the first 3 with more details beneath:

Content Marketing

At the time of writing, Seedly's content marketing is a good case study for early stage companies in Singapore who are willing to invest in content. Seedly has proven that blogging relevant content associated to its audience could result in net positive growth.

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From the above, the Trailing Six Month Compound Growth Rate is approximately 30% which is a honorable achievement, assuming the data from SimilarWeb is accurate.

Seedly's content is accessible via its blog, its app and often reposted on Seedly's Facebook community group as well as thefinance.sg, a financial news aggregator.

What could Seedly do to improve its Content Marketing?
The quality of the blog content is a primary factor. Seedly currently has both short and slightly longer articles, which are mostly summarizing information from a couple of sources. These represent valuable pieces of content to time-starved working professionals, but yielded in currently 50% bounce rate, rather high for a 300k traffic blog.

However, these articles could be further researched, expanded and developed to demonstrate thought-leadership. One could think of this advice as the need for articles which are originals. Cough Some Netflix Originals resonates with a large audience because the content is fresh, creative and addictive.

In a nutshell, revamp the blog design and double down on higher quality content...

As a side note: The blog and the content in general rarely covers non-Singapore related matters, which is a major loss given that the expatriate community is rather substantial in the city state.

And if we were Seedly, we would set Moneysmart as our target to surpass by end of 2018 or earlier. Moneysmart blog is currently standing at about 2x of that of Seedly.

Product Virality

We tried the app, and it is definitely not a viral app to be. It does, however, offer new features such as Product Reviews which might encourage sharing. This new feature does represent an opportunity for the company to establish the network effects (Think of TripAdvisor) from user generated content which are reviews in this case. These reviews should reinforce the product's presence on Google and increase its blog's credibility on Google ranking.

First, the company could explore building free tools from HDB loan calculator to tax calculator to be part of their core product or available as a web app. These would have to be a little bit creative and fun to encourage sharing.

Second, Seedly app is afterall an app that needs to be connected to the bank account. In itself, there is no trust at the onboarding stage - Why would you trust an unknown brand with your internet banking information? Build trust by providing value upfront.

Third, we assume that Seedly could allow its app users to share about their personal finance goals, or engage with a friend to keep accountability over a financial goal. The social sharing factor could be extremely relevant once the trust hurdle has been overcomed.

Fourth, we assume again that Seedly would make sharing fun and depending on their revenue model (unless they are fine with burning investors' money), they could offer 'free money' to users who invited new users to sign up to the app.

Fifth, there is no doubt that Seedly will get into gamification. It is a young team and with the Pokemon Go! generation riding the same wave...Gamification applied to product building will make a difference.

Market Expansion

As per the simplified analysis we did, Seedly would make an ideal lifestyle business in Singapore alone. Building a consumer focused product in Singapore is hard enough, expanding to new markets is even harder and there is no single strategy for all markets. The Seedly team would need to start from ground zero and figure out the various pulses in each new market, assuming market expansion is in the pipeline.

Let's look at Thailand for example.

As a personal finance app, there is no issue with entering Thailand. The challenges start when there is a need to connect your internet banking account to Seedly. In itself, this is a major hurdle and from an external point of view, it is deadly. First point, minimize the friction by building trust and credibility in the new market.

Second point is for the team to figure out their key target audience in Thailand. If we were to make an analogy with Singapore, it would be young working professionals in their late 20s living and working in Bangkok. A combination of target content marketing across key channels (such as LINE App) could be useful.

Third point is to have soft land in Thailand. There are myriads of apps in Thailand and LINE App represents coopetition for Seedly. Why LINE App? They aspire to be the WeChat of Thailand, and offer a few features related to finance.

Moving Forward

We are definitely looking forward to seeing Seedly expand into new markets, and provides exciting features to make personal finance management less tedious and more fun in Singapore and beyond. As societies in ASEAN are growing, and it is expected that the average worker will see a rise in their income. By riding the upward trend, and fulfiling the known and unknown wants of their target audience, Seedly could have a substantial impact in people's lives.