Yahya Mokhtarzada hadn’t flown in over a month. But when he looked at his credit card bill, he noticed he was charged $40 for in-flight Wi-Fi. The 2006 University of Maryland alumnus searched the internet for a tool that could sort through his subscriptions, but couldn’t find anything.
That’s when he and his three brothers came up with the idea for Truebill.
Through the website or the free app, both in the Apple Store and Google Play, users can log in to their bank accounts, and Truebill’s algorithm — written by Yahya’s Mokhtarzada’s brother, Zeki, a 2000 graduate of this university — scans bank statements to show users all recurring charges in one place, and provides the opportunity to cancel them.
“We’re an unknown brand basically asking users to put a huge amount of faith in us by giving us access to their entire financial portfolio or a huge amount of financial data,” said Yahya, a co-founder and CEO of Truebill. “[The] University of Maryland taught me how to write, and that’s been hugely important in getting users to trust us enough to actually enable the app.”
The brothers formally launched the platform in January. Within about a week, they had around 4,000 signups, Yahya said. Within two months, they had more than 10,000 signups, and over 60,000 signups just a few months later. Currently, they have about 65,000.
“They have an amazing team and they’ve just built something that has a really simple approach to your personal finances,” said Edward Lando, founder of Horizons School of Technology and a Truebill investor as of April. “A lot of monthly [spending] goes to unnecessary membership left and right, and I just think they’ve really built a nice elegant solution to it.”
Initially, all four brothers had equal parts in the company, Zeki said. However, because he and his brother Haroon, a 2001 university alumnus who does product advising, are working remotely and the company has hired more people, it became more difficult for them to be involved on a daily basis. They have taken on more advisory roles. Idris, who graduated from this university in 2010, is the chief technology officer of Truebill.
In addition to helping consumers, Truebill also helps companies, said Zeki, who is serving as the Truebill technology advisor.
“There are customers that legitimately want a service, but then their credit card expires … and as a result their subscription will expire,” he said. “They’ve got to go and call the company and say, ‘…I actually really wanted this, can you reactivate my account?'”
Some users are small businesses and may have multiple accounts with one vendor, so Truebill can also help them to tease those apart and figure out which of those are actually subscriptions versus purchases.
While Truebill is free for users, it is still profitable through partnerships with other companies. When it sees a user is paying for credit monitoring, it recommends using Credit Karma instead for free. If they agree, Truebill gets paid. Truebill also has a partnership with Billshark, a company that negotiates on users’ behalf to lower users’ bills for services such as internet and cable, and charges customers just a percentage of what they save.
“They manage to be professional and respectful and maintain their love for each other as well,” said the brothers’ mother Ilhan Cagri. “From a mother’s vantage point, that’s terrific.”
“With TrueBill, our ultimate goal is to reduce friction for users around subscription,” Zeki said. “We want to eventually help users maintain the subscriptions they want.”