DebtGoal, a site that helps users manage their debt and hopefully pay it off more quickly, just announced that it has raised $2 million in its first round of institutional funding.
The San Francisco company launched an early version of its site at the end of 2008, which was pretty apt timing given the economic meltdown and all the attention on the fact that so many Americans are struggling with debt. It wasn’t the only site to ride this trend — witness all the debt settlement and debt consolidation sites that pop up when you do a web search for “debt help.” But debt settlement services are really aimed at people who can’t make their current payments, and often involve paying large fees upfront to avoid more serious financial problems later.
DebtGoal, on the other hand, wants to help people who aren’t necessarily in big trouble but want to get a better handle on their debt, their interest, and how they can pay everything off more quickly. Users link their financial accounts to the site, then DebtGoal uses proprietary algorithms to calculate a payment plan that’s suited to your needs, with a recommended payment amount each month. There’s a Commitment Calculator that helps you see the long-term effect of changes to your plan. DebtGoal claims it saves the average user $35,000 in interest and helps them pay off their debt 16 years earlier than other services.
After a one-week free trial, DebtGoal charges a $15 monthly fee. That’s a different approach from a free personal finance site like Mint.com, which makes money by recommending various financial services to its users. Chief executive Scott Crawford said charging a fee, rather than generating leads for financial institutions, “really steers us into alignment with customers’ objectives,” so that DebtGoal doesn’t feel any pressure to recommend loans, credit cards, or bank accounts that would actually make your debt worse.
The site currently has 20,000 members and manages more than $1 billion in debt, Crawford said. DebtGoal’s new round was led by Tugboat Ventures, with participation from seed investor New Cycle Capital. The company has raised a total of $3.1 million.