DIGI: Promoting a Sustainable World Through Money Management
In a series of interviews, we will talk to the people behind the businesses that has started as part of the AUBG Accelerator Elevate.
Plamen Kostov (‘17) and Kristo Prifti (‘15) are the co-founders of the app called DIGI. Plamen’s financial industry experience and Kristo's tech knowledge created a perfect foundation for the innovative startup that aims to promote a more stable and sustainable world by targeting money management. Plamen tells us more about what they do.
How did the idea to create DIGI originate? What inspired you to develop an app that can help manage a person’s financial life?
DIGI started as a dream to make a better, safer, and more stable and sustainable world. For the last century, human impact has had a tremendous footprint on Earth. For the past six years, I was looking for a solution that would secure a future for the generations to come, while addressing the impact on the environment, wildlife preservation, and societal development.
All of those problems boiled down to one common culprit - ego, the desire for more. Money is the tool that represents that. Because of it, humans exploit global resources, fight each other and act unethically for self-interest. We cannot change human nature, but what we can do is flip the narrative. Our goal is to build a community, where the more beneficial one is for society, the more they receive from it. And it starts with the individual.
Billions of people are struggling daily to survive. Unless their well-being is secured, they will not think about helping others. That’s when we knew we needed to solve one of the greatest issues people have - money and its management. A solution, that can monitor and automate most of their financial life, so they can concentrate on what truly matters - family, work, health, hobbies, society.
When one has stability, they are no longer in a state of survival, and naturally, start thinking about greater issues. Property, health, children’s education, and well-being are among the first to take care of. A healthy and well-educated generation is more open-minded and caring when it comes to stability and sustainability.
To see such a self-sustainable world, we deduced we needed to solve one major problem - money. This was my drive behind entering the financial industry 3 years ago, and why I began drafting an app that can solve this problem.
How will the consumers benefit from this app? Why should anyone download and use DIGI?
In the presence of countless financial apps, DIGI provides a place where the users can take different actions in regards to their financial life. We like to distinguish three main areas:
Past - everything one has acquired so far in their life (assets and liabilities);
Present - if one makes more than they spend;
Future - how to use the remaining income to reach their goals.
In addition, the users can connect with professional consultants on DIGI to get help throughout the process.
What did the process of working on this idea look like? Can you walk us through some things you did to finalize the app?
We started by drawing the display of the app (including the main functionalities) on a big cardboard. Then we went to as many people as we could reach to capture their wants and needs. A key in the process was our partnership with financial consultants that provided us with the necessary feedback so we could create our MVP. We removed chunks of the app that weren’t necessary at the time and added other functionalities. The daily team meetings were the most important to address the rapid changes and create a stable app.
What were some difficulties you faced while developing the app?
Apart from the high cost of additional developers to speed up the process, our main struggle was finding the fastest way to enter the market. We had to pivot a few times to differentiate ourselves from competitors while keeping the pace before the fund ran out. At the same time, keeping a balance between what potential investors wanted without compromising the overall vision of the company and the needs of the clients was the trickiest.
How has your AUBG education helped you in establishing and operating the startup?
Being able to participate in the Elevate Accelerator helped us tremendously in shaping our startup. We met with various mentors and professionals who provided invaluable knowledge and support. But aside from that, it was the whole four-year AUBG experience that put us where we are today.
AUBG’s outstanding level of education was the foundation for building a strong backbone for our company. But what is even more important is the community and people I met there that expanded my worldview. Coming from a small Bulgarian town and seeing that although there are students from all over the globe, we are all humans and there should be no difference in how we treat each other. AUBG is the reason behind my drive to give back to the community as it has given so much to me.
Is there anything you are currently working on or planning to do in terms advancing the startup?
Currently, we are implementing an update that would lay down the path for a smooth scale-up, both locally and internationally. We managed to land an investment that propelled this process and we project to reach break-even by the first quarter of 2022. What’s next is to finish the negotiations with our technology providers, so we can automate the finances of our users even further, and begin the addition of our marketplace.