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Amber Masters Combines Debt-Payoff Experience with Accountability and Support in Paidback

Laura MacPherson July 24, 2020

This post is part of our “Startup Stories” series – where we feature select Designli clients with the goal of highlighting their products, their inspiration, and what has motivated them to tackle the world of building a digital startup.

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Thanks to student loans from a law degree, a master’s degree, and dental school, Amber Masters and her husband, Danny found themselves facing over $649,000 in debt.

Debt-related stress was a daily oppressor after they entered the workforce, and paying off the debt seemed like an impossible task.

But stress was also a powerful motivator, so they educated themselves on personal finance, implemented a budget and financial plan, and began their journey toward paying off debt.

To help keep them accountable, Amber started a blog (DeeplyInDebt.com) sharing their journey and what they were learning in the process, with the hopes that it would help others in similar situations.

Amber’s online community has grown to over 100,000 subscribers, and the Masters are currently on track to finish paying off all their debt by 2021.

When Amber’s community started asking for an app that would help them connect with others and celebrate each milestone reached toward their goal, the idea for Paidback was born.

Here, Amber shares the story behind her app, which is now in beta testing.

Could you share the concept of the Paidback app?

Paidback helps users with two primary things: being part of a community working toward similar goals, and motivation to keep going toward those goals. It has a social media function where users can post status updates when they pay off each debt or reach milestones, and it sends users congratulatory messages, which also helps them celebrate their wins.

Additionally, the app has a payoff calculator and serves as an educational hub, with links to personal finance information that’s hosted on the blog.

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How did you come up with the idea for the app?

It really started when I finished paying off my student loans. We had reached this huge milestone in paying off our debt, but it was anticlimactic because no one knew! We wanted to celebrate.

This coincided with my blog community asking for an app that would help them connect with others and celebrate each milestone they achieved. At that point, the vision for the app started becoming clear. 

Has the pandemic presented any challenges to the business?

The educational content has changed a lot because so many people haven’t been able to work for the last several months.

Debt payoff has been put on hold, and people are now focused on tightening their budgets, spending less, and coming up with creative solutions for how to get what they need.

We’re focused on helping people know what to do when you’re in emergency mode.

What’s the most rewarding thing about running a company? And what’s the hardest?

I love the lifestyle — the ability to choose when I want to work and how I want to work. I can be my most productive while spending time with my family.

The most challenging thing is staying motivated to get work done when I would rather be doing something else!

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Who inspires you?

My dad — he had his own business, and he worked hard. He helped me to see that there was a path I could take where I could have my own business too.

Watching him also made me aware that I was in for a lot of work — I knew what to expect, so I was prepared for it. 

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Keep going! I had a business idea that I believed in, but I needed to hear that it takes time and work to build out the vision.

You have to persevere through a lot of things (like a pandemic).

Good things come, bad things come, and you just have to keep going.

What has been your biggest mistake when starting your business, and what insights did you gain from it? 

My biggest mistake was being afraid to put myself and my idea out there. I was afraid to fail. I hesitated, and it took me a couple of years before I committed to it. I could have had success much more quickly if I hadn’t been so afraid. 

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What advice would you offer to new startup founders or those who are in the early stages of starting a company? 

Just start! If you’re unsure where to start, just choose somewhere. People get paralyzed wanting things to be perfect. Jump in, and figure it out along the way. You can refine it as you go, but nothing will happen unless you get started.

Follow Amber on her journey by visiting her DeeplyInDebt blog: Click Here.

Ready to chat with the Designli team about bringing your own startup to life? We’re here to help. Contact us here.

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