Phroogal, an Elizabeth, N.J., startup aiming to harness the collective knowledge of the crowd to share financial information and promote social collaboration, announced this week that it has successfully met its 30-day Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign.
The company raised $78,501 of its $75,000 goal, making it the first financial literacy startup funded by the crowd, claimed Jason Vitug, founder and CEO of Phroogal.
“Phroogal is crowd-sourced financial information enabling social collaboration to share knowledge, discover new tools and connect with money-savvy peers and financial experts,” Vitug said. “Think Google, Quora and Yelp on personal finance.”
The company, which plans to launch the beta version of its website later this year, will make it easier for credit union members, potential members and other consumers to share knowledge, discover new tools and connect with money-savvy peers and financial experts, said Vitug.
He previously served as vice president of membership development at the former Tyco Federal Credit Union (now named Reach FCU with $100 million in assets) in Menlo Park, Calif., and as a member experience officer at the $2.2 billion Affinity Federal Credit Union in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, according to his LinkedIn profile.
“Money is a taboo subject so we rely on informal conversations and the Internet to find answers to our financial questions,” he said. “The abundance of information and the ineffective way it’s currently structured leaves many to guess what’s trustworthy and relevant. Phroogal will solve that by indexing, aggregating and allowing peer review of financial resources.”
Phroogal also plans to collaborate with credit unions in other ways, the company said.
“Credit unions need to have members spend more time on their website instead of using search engines to find answers to their financial questions,” Vitug said. “We will provide the Phroogal search engine and Q&A platform that can be integrated/embedded into a credit union's website.
“One of the benefits is to allow members to ask questions and collaborate with other members and get answers from credit union staff. A second benefit is the ability to find information on financial topics on vetted government and not-for-profit websites. As we plan to be the place for all things money, we want credit unions to be the place for all things money for their members. Finally, we will share data on trending topics and high-profile questions.”
Phroogal will focus on financial literacy in a unique way, Vitug said.
“There are government agencies, for profit companies, not-for-profit organizations and technology startups creating programs to solve financial illiteracy,” he explained. “However, none integrate the technological and natural way people learn about money – through search engines and social interaction.”
Phroogal will also offer a way for credit union members to make referrals, he said.
“People listen to referrals, but directly asking isn’t easy,” he said. “Phroogal plans to change all that by making it easier for people to share information and referrals online.”