Today we interviewed Isaac Yoder and Alex Kotlikoff, the co-founders of FlashStarts startup Smooth, to learn about what they have been working on throughout the summer.
Isaac Yoder and Alex Kotlikoff (Co-Founders) of Smooth
Smooth is a sophisticated, yet simple, personal finance app currently in development. The program generates personalized recommendations that help users improve their standard of living and offers incentives for users to follow the recommendations.
What attracted you to the FlashStarts accelerator?
Isaac: We had been planning on dedicating all our time to developing Smooth on our own this summer. But then one of our closest mentors, John Knific, recommended that we look into the FlashStarts program and put us in touch with Charles and Jen. We had a great conversation with them, and we could tell it was an environment where we could really go into overdrive developing and expanding our company.
Alex: We really liked Jen and Charles, and what they were doing at FlashStarts clicked with what we were looking to do. Plus the office is great!
What are you and your team working on right now?
Isaac: There’s a lot going on!
Alex: We are simultaneously developing our product and refining our business model.
Isaac: We’ve attracted interest from investors now, so we are flying out to NYC next week to meet with some of them and see if there’s a good fit. We have been developing out the beta version of our program and, before our program launches onto the market, we’re going to be offering personalized lifetime financial plans at a far more affordable rate than anything in the personal finance industry.
What has been the biggest challenge this summer?
Alex: I think our largest challenge is dealing with a nuanced industry and applying a back-end technology that is very adaptable. We’ve had to work on honing onto a niche space, and that was initially challenging because our product could add value in a number of different ways.
Tell us about living and working in Cleveland.
Isaac: I’ve begun to really appreciate Cleveland. There’s a lot of interesting development going on in the city, a tight-knit community of passionate, smart people, and you can feel that the area has incredible potential. There are also quite a few really charming pockets within the city and incredible food — shoutout to Wonton Gourmet & BBQ (we basically live there).
Alex: We’re from Boston and San Francisco, so at first we were both a bit skeptical to move here, but I’ve come to realize that it has all the resources of a big city, but without the crowds, which is nice.
How do you like working with interns?
Alex: The interns are sweet! The Indians games are fun too, we’ve got lots of team spirit!
Isaac: Working with interns here is a great resource because it lets us get far more done. The interns can help us with things we couldn’t do by ourselves so we can get ahead more efficiently.
Anything to add?
Alex: Charles and Jen are very supportive!
Isaac: When we were considering accelerators, we were worried about them having too much control over the direction our company (since they get some equity). We really wanted to keep the integrity of our vision intact. Charles and Jen are great at striking the perfect balance of helping to guide and support companies without being controlling.