Thanks to student loans from a law degree, a master’s degree, and dental school, Paidback founder Amber Masters and her husband, Danny, found themselves facing over $649,000 in debt.
To keep them accountable, Amber started a blog (DeeplyInDebt.com) to share their journey and what they were learning in the process. Organically growing to over 100,000 subscribers, Amber’s community started asking for an app that would help them connect with others and celebrate each milestone reach toward their goal. The idea for Paidback was born.
Meet founder, Amber Masters.
An idea born from personal experience.
The idea for Paidback came when Amber finished paying off her student loans. She had reached a huge milestone, but it was anticlimactic because no one knew. She and her husband wanted to celebrate. Amber recognized that personal finance wins can - and should - be social.
Advice for new entrepreneurs.
Amber’s advice? To keep going. She launched Paidback during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, by focusing on the idea that she believed in. It takes time and work to build out a vision like hers, and you have to persevere through a lot of things. Don’t be afraid to fail. Read Founder Series Interview
The Designli SolutionLab, where a new app idea becomes fully documented and laid out in a tangible roadmap, helped bring organization to the Paidback vision.
Building off the back of existing infrastructure.
Critical to Amber’s vision was allowing users to sync their banking transactions (like payments to student loan accounts and credit cards) automatically, and congratulating those users when their balances were lowered. The Designli team helped define how Plaid.com could be leaned on as the ‘plumbing’ for this functionality, reducing startup costs
Prioritizing social network-type features.
In addition to transaction tracking, Amber dreamed of building a full-blown social network to allow users to motivate one another. Social networking functionality gets very large in scope very quickly; the Designli team helped Amber prioritize, getting the most social ‘bang for the buck’ while keeping her Version 1 budget in check.
Graphic design & prototyping.
Amber had over 100,000 subscribers to her DeeplyInDebt blog that wanted to be involved in the process of building Paidback. The Graphic Design process allowed Amber to keep those stakeholders updated, able to give their feedback as the vision took shape - and, perhaps most importantly, keep them excited to become paying app users upon launch.
Agile development, launch, and ongoing support.
Paidback was built as a native iPhone app, with plans to expand into the Android market in the future. The Designli team kept Amber informed at each milestone, earning trust and approval in small, digestible app deliverables as the product took shape. We continue to stay involved in ongoing support as Paidback is marketed and users’ feedback is implemented on a monthly basis.