PocketCFO App

UX Design, Research, Product Management, Product Ownership
Project Overview
PocketCFO's vision is to democratize financial intelligence and education for small business owners in underserved communities with low financial literacy. By automating cash flow tracking, PocketCFO app provides them with real-time financial analytics and knowledge to help them make data-informed business decisions.
My Contributions
PocketCFO started as a school project at USC. Eric, co-founder & CEO, and I conducted customer research together and talked to over 100 business owners collectively. As the co-founder and product leader on the team, my contribution includes
- developing the product vision and strategy
- defining our personas and MVP
- designing the product and conducting usability testing
- owning the product backlog/ roadmap
- overseeing product development and managing relationships with API partners
- gathering qualitative and quantitative customer feedback
Tools I Used in This Project
Figma, Mural, Jira, Confluence, Hubspot
Mobile, Desktop
How PocketCFO Started
Cash flow mismanagement is one of the top reasons for business failure. Tracking and analyzing cash flow for small business owners is a tedious and time-consuming process that takes away over 200 hours every year from them. As a business owner for over 15 years, Eric learned cash flow management through trial and error. He realized that cash is the lifeblood of a business, but many small business owners lack the essential knowledge and tools to help them make the best use of their cash and avoid any cash gaps. This situation is more apparent with BIPOC* business owners in underserved communities.

PocketCFO was born out of the desire to help BIPOC small business owners develop a "cash flow mindset" and provide the financial insights they need to make better financial decisions for their businesses.

* BIPOC stands for Black, Indigenous, and people of color.
When Eric and I met at USC, we worked on PocketCFO together for one of the lab classes. This project intrigued me because I always dreamed about starting my own business but felt that managing the financial aspect of my business would be a challenge, and PocketCFO might be the solution for people like me.

Through market research, we learned that small businesses spend $136 billion every year on financial management, the BIPOC market is as big as $38 billion. This is a massive market opportunity.

We started the project by conducting primary and secondary research to better understand the market and the problem. We interviewed tech startup founders, nonprofit founders, and business owners from different industries and sizes. Later we found out that startup founders' focus is more on growth than maintaining financial stability, and nonprofits could have different ways of managing their cash depending on how funding is given. Hence, our sweet spot is small businesses with less than 20 employees; they have the most substantial need for a healthy cash flow.

Based on the business type, stage, and financial needs of the people we interviewed, we created three personas. The primary persona, Lucas, has been managing his retail business for many years. He needs a better financial and invoice tracking system that can help him save time and gain visibility of his future cash flow. Jennifer is the owner of a newly opened spa. She focuses on building the business and needs something that can give her financial insights with minimal time to set up and maintain. The last persona, Carter, owns an eCommerce store and is trying to increase profit and make the best use of his money. He needs something that can help him make data-informed business decisions.
Market Research
Product Vision
Target Market
Product Value
MVP & Roadmap
PocketCFO's social mission, elevating BIPOC business owners in underserved communities, is deep-rooted in our product vision. After several rounds of research, we have identified the pain points and financial knowledge gap that our target segment has and decided to tackle these three most important areas:
1. Visualize real-time cash flow data to help users understand their current financial situation
2. Provide small business financial education and personalized insights to teach users how they can improve their financials
3. Automate cash flow forecasting to help users make smart plans for the future

Since getting financial visibility is the first step for small business owners to improve their financial health, we started by tracking key cash flow metrics and building out a collection of actionable insights triggered by different events. Later on, we developed the educational content tailored to small business owners' needs and put the cash flow forecasting feature on our roadmap for a later time.

Small business owners are always strapped for time. One of our core values and key differentiators is eliminating manual data input and saving users' time by getting cash flow data directly from financial sources, such as their bank accounts, commerce accounts, and accounting software.

When we looked at our competitors' products, most of them were expanding from desktop to mobile. We decided to take a mobile-first approach because of three reasons:
1. Our primary persona is a brick-and-mortar business owner who has low financial and tech savviness and is more comfortable on mobile than on desktop
2. Mobile is optimized for consuming information, and people prefer to do important tasks like inputting cash flow data on desktop, but by leveraging integrations with financial sources, our solution provides financial insights while minimizing manual data input, which makes it suitable for mobile
3. We believe checking cash flow daily can help small businesses better manage their financial health, and a mobile app that people can access anytime, anywhere removes the barrier
During the design process, I developed PocketCFO's personas, scenarios, and information architecture of the app. With the support of Eric's expertise in cash flow management and our advisors' financial knowledge, I defined each feature's requirements, identified available data points from different API vendors, documented financial calculations for cash flow analytics, and designed all the MVP features from wireframes to final deliverables. In addition, I coached and mentored our Product and Design Interns, who worked on the product strategy and design of the Cash Calendar feature on our roadmap.

Since our target users have low financial literacy, our design goals were to ensure that the app is easy to navigate and that the financial information is easy to understand. With that in mind, I created data visualizations that maximize the data-ink ratio, information architecture that is carefully structured, and whenever we have to show a financial term in the app, I made sure to explain what it means in an easily digestible manner.
Personas & Scenarios
Information Architecture
Usability Testing
UI Design
Product Ownership
API Partnerships
To achieve our product vision, we recognized some technical challenges related to data aggregation and categorization. Given the limited dev resources, we had our small team of developers focus on app features while leveraging partnerships with third-party API vendors to establish bank connections and advanced categorization algorithms. 

During the development phase, I was the product owner that oversaw the development and also the liaison between our API vendors and our outsourced dev team. I've also worked with the dev team to track user signups and integration statuses.
PocketCFO has a SaaS model with $29/mo subscription fee. For early beta testers, we will offer a considerable discount for three months and a 34-day free trial for all users.

We arrived at our monthly subscription price of $29 based on competition-based and cost-based pricing strategies. Since we were pre-product-market-fit, it was challenging to gauge customers' perceived value and price our product based on that. We analyzed the cost of alternative solutions, our cost structure, growth expectation, and how the economy of scale will affect our unit costs and came up with the price and a slogan "Get financial peace of mind for less than $1 a day."

We have also explored the idea of a freemium version that gives users access to some of our cash flow courses and boosts our signups once we add the Learning Center feature to the app.
Pricing Strategy
Saas Model
Freemium vs. Premium
Unit Economics
Growth Expectation

Product Launch & Feedback
User Acquisition Strategy
Qualitative & Quantitative Feedback
Product Iteration
Before the launch, we collected a list of over 200 people on our waitlist through personal networks, incubators, business partners' networks, online platforms, self hosted webinars, etc. After launching our alpha version app, we gained many invaluable qualitative and quantitative insights. Here are some of the findings:

One of the most interesting findings was that over 80% of app downloads were directly from the app stores, which was not how we planned. To avoid Apple's 30% commission (this was before Apple backed down on its controversial in-app purchase rules), signup was not available in the app, and we would direct users to sign up on our website and then send them an app download link to sign in to the app. However, after seeing the data, we realized we needed to enable in-app signup.

After talking to some users, we learned they loved the user-friendly setup flow, which included bank and software integrations, and how easy it was to navigate the app. However, they felt it was missing a welcoming experience when they first got into the app. So, in the next version, I added a guided tour that combined tooltips and financial tips for introducing the app and making them feel that "we got them."

"Bank connection anxiety" is real. 7 out of 10 people who signed up abandoned it at the bank connection step due to a lack of trust in the brand, so we started co-branding with organizations helping BIPOC business owners and sharing the same social mission with us. We've also added elements on our website that increase our credibility, like business partners' logos, privacy and security information, testimonials, etc., and started building our digital presence through social media.
Key Learnings
- This project has sharpened my conceptual skill in understanding complex information and thinking on an abstract level to formulate ideas
- Being a startup founder gave me the ability to create and evaluate solutions from different perspectives and holistically
- Working with the dev team and API vendors helped me acquire knowledge of mobile development and how APIs work
- Gained a deeper understanding of the importance of product prioritization and its business impact
- Learned new skills and tools such as Agile Development, digital marketing, go-to-market strategy, Jira, Studio 3T, etc.