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Earning More Millennial Attention: An Interview with Max Rofagha, Founder of Finimize

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In today’s attention economy, college-age millennials are inundated with notifications and alerts. They check their phones 82 times a day, according to Deloitte, receive an average of 88 emails, according to Radicati, and have scant time to spend with each message.

Amidst this, the millennial finance newsletter Finimize has been able to cut through the chaos with a simple design and high-quality content. It has attracted more than 100,000 subscribers in just over a year and a half. Its founder, Max Rofagha, shared how he’s earned so much attention from Millennials.

Where’d you get the idea to create a millennial finance newsletter?

It came to me after I built my first startup. I had amassed some savings and wanted to invest it, but didn’t know where to begin. Even though I had studied economics I had to admit that I was pretty clueless. So what did I do? I went to my friends who were bankers in London, only to find that they had the exact same problem: We were all clueless about personal finances.

After some research, I realized that this is true of most Millennials. Some 86% of Millennials save each month and keep more than 50% of their assets in cash because there isn’t a suitable way for them to get financial advice. They can’t afford financial advisors. That was the genesis of Finimize — we want to empower our millennial users to become their own financial advisors.

What has surprised you about Millennials?

One big thing is that it’s very very difficult to convince Millennials to use your service. There’s such a massive overload of apps and services out there that they have too many alternatives. We found that if you don’t deliver quality every day, they will stop using your service. Even if it’s free, it’s not worth their time. Earning their mindshare is quite competitive in the age of apps.

On the flip side of this, once you have them locked-in, so to speak, they become brand ambassadors and start sharing it with everyone. For us, the real key to inspiring them to share is getting across the message that we’re offering a lot of substance, substance that they want to share with their friends. Millennials can spot that and they appreciate that we’re taking them seriously.

How does Finimize inspire word-of-mouth?

It’s a very simple answer that’s very hard to execute on — build stuff that people want. We spend a lot of time speaking with our users, understanding what they like, don’t like, and iterating very quickly based on that. Our thought process is that if we can build something people like a lot and follow the net-promoter score system, that in itself will drive growth.

Through testing, we’ve discovered a lot of features that really encourage this. For example, we closely track referrals and reward people who share our newsletter with prizes like additional content, swag, and other perks such as our premium membership, “Finimize Insider.” We also allow our readers to participate in the product by featuring user-submitted quotes and questions with each newsletter. When someone sees that they’ve made it into the newsletter, that connection is cemented for life.

Image: A sharing feature from the Finimize newsletter.

What advice would you offer marketers trying to reach college-age Millennials?

Do a lot of testing. Make lots of small changes, and move fast on them. We imagine that lots of the Millennial users who read our newsletter do so on their phone. Most of them are probably standing in the subway station with headphones on multitasking. Through testing we realized that we couldn’t make them think too hard or we’d lose them, so after a while we landed on our present super-simple newsletter design. We use emojis to help us pack a lot of news into a 3-minute read. You have to design for how your customers use your product.

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