3 of 5
BACKNEXT
Simple tools for savvy investing
Simple tools for savvy investing
Betterment founder Jon Stein

Betterment
Founder:
Jon Stein
Launched: August 2008
Headquarters: New York City
Winner of "Biggest New York Disruptor" award; Final Five finalist

Betterment's name sounds like a sly play on Mint.com, the personal-finance site that won TechCrunch's very first startup competition back in 2007 and went on to be acquired last year by Inuit for $170 million. Like its namesake, Betterment is built around user-friendly personal finance tools, but while Mint helps members manage the money they already have, Betterment targets investors.

For those that would be overwhelmed by an ETrade account, Betterment offers visually intuitive tools. After transferring money in from a linked checking account, a user funnels it into one of Betterment's two portfolios, one a stock mix and the other a very conservative basket of bonds. Using a slider that looks like a speedometer, the investor can easily calibrate their risk level. Betterment founder Jon Stein calls his site "the replacement for your savings account."

One cool feature allows users to see what others in their age and or income bracket are doing. The judges were favorably impressed: "I was a judge at TC50 when Mint was on stage and told them, 'It's a huge market; you only need a tiny piece.' I think that's true for you," Don Dodge, a developer advocate at Google, told Stein. He'd like to see Betterment target 401(k) investors: "Many of them are totally clueless," he said.

Betterment polarized the audience. Some loved how simple the site makes it to allocate investment funds (the slider lets you set your risk tolerance from low to high risk), but others objected to an investment site billing itself as a safe replacement for savings accounts.

The Final Five judges came down hard on Betterment's interface. John Borthwick, CEO of betaworks, called it "toyish" and felt that it was over-simplified, "reducing things to a simple graphic with one bar."

Of course, simplicity can pay off -- TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington pointed out that Mint also drew criticism for being "too cute."

NEXT: Mash-up Hollywood hits

Email | Print | Share
 
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)
LAST UPDATE: May 28 2010 | 2:31 PM ET
More Galleries
6 designers shaking up fashion These designers are changing the way we dress, accessorize and shop, from custom made-to-fit dresses to smart jewelry that's actually stylish. More
8 must-have travel apps Whether you've got wanderlust or an airline grievance, here are some apps to pack onto your phone. More
Secrets to success from Smalltown USA Utah State professor Michael Glauser cycled 4,000 miles this summer, visiting 100 entrepreneurs across the country. Here's a snapshot of how they grew their businesses. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.