The Download: HelloWallet says the economic slowdown has been good for their business

October 2, 2011

The Download: HelloWallet says weak economy has boosted business

There are a lucky few businesses that may actually be buoyed by an economic slowdown, and District-based HelloWallet appears to be one of them.

The firm released its personal money management software in May and has since inked contracts with 25 big-name corporations that offer it as a benefit to employees. That’s 330,000 subscriptions in total with more deals in the pipeline.

“At the very least the recession is not affecting us,” said chief executive Matt Fellowes. “At the very best it’s helping us.”

Helping indeed. Fellowes said the staff will double to 35 by year’s end. The company just formalized plans to relocate into a 10,000-square-foot office near the West End and will also open a sales shop in San Francisco later this month.

HelloWallet was born from Fellowes’ consumer finance research at the Brookings Institution and the idea that wealth management shouldn’t be reserved for those in top-tier income brackets.

The software helps people keep track of even modest sums of money and uses behavioral psychology to motivate them to meet common financial goals, such as saving for college or retirement.

H elloWallet is in the fortunate position that many of its primary customers, which include Fortune 500 companies, hold substantial amounts of cash on their balance sheets. Getting them to spend it, however, requires a sturdy sales pitch.

“In these days of economic uncertainty it’s essential as a vendor … that you speak to the company’s bottom line, and that’s what we have been able to do,” Fellowes said.

So, what’s next? Look for a mobile version that’s in the works. The company could also take on new venture capital in the near future. The goal is to keep growing.

“We really want to be part of the technology growth story in D.C., and that means be a magnet for talent from around the country,” he said.

Amazon deals

Get ready to make room in your inbox for yet another daily deal, Washington.

Internet retailer Amazon is now offering steep discounts at local haunts. AmazonLocal debuted in the District last Thursday. It launched Sept. 16 in Montgomery County and Aug. 25 in Northern Virginia.

Amazon has at least one advantage over market leaders LivingSocial and Groupon because it already possesses a roster of e-mail addresses. Users with an Amazon account automatically receive its daily deals.

Steven Overly covers the business of technology, biotechnology and venture capital in the Washington region for The Washington Post and its weekly Capital Business publication. In that capacity, he has written about start-up struggles, investment trends and major drug discoveries.
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