“To Infinity and Beyond” - Trim - Automatically improving the financial health of Americans at scale
Our Zero Data Hero Customer Spotlight series highlights the stories of VGS customers who have joined our Zero Data mission to protect the world’s information.
Today’s Zero Data Hero is Thomas Smyth, CEO and Founder of Trim, Inc. Thomas Smyth is the founder and CEO of Trim, the largest and fastest growing AI-powered financial manager. Thomas founded Trim in 2015 to improve Americans' financial health at scale. Since inception, Trim has saved its users tens of millions of dollars. Prior to founding Trim, Thomas was an investor at Core Innovation Capital, a venture capital firm focused on early-stage investments in financial technology companies. Some of the investments Thomas worked on include Ripple Labs, NerdWallet, Oportun (f/k/a Progreso Financiero), and CoverHound. Thomas graduated from Yale University with a degree in Political Science.
Q - Tell us about Trim?
Thomas - Trim is a financial health company. We help people tangibly improve their financial health. We’re completely different from other services like Mint, NerdWallet, etc. These sites can offer you pages of financial education or tell you how much you spend on coffee every week -- but at the end of the day we’re like ostriches. When we’re confronted with personal finance knowledge, we usually just stick our heads in the sand and tell ourselves that we will act tomorrow. That’s why we’re in the mess we’re in today. Look at student debt at all-time highs, or the overwhelming amount of credit card debt weighing on Americans, or the fact that vast swaths of the US population have no plan or ability to retire.
Trim is different. We focus on action. We analyze your financial situation, and then we automatically help you save money. Trim started by helping users cancel old subscriptions or figure out if a cable provider was overcharging them. Demonstrating to our customers that we can save them money today allows us to gain their trust and then help them with the hard stuff, like getting out of debt or saving for retirement.
Q - How did Trim approach the challenge of PCI compliance?
Thomas - When I was thinking about creating Trim I really only had a high-level understanding of PCI compliance. I did however know enough to be afraid. The more I talked to people, the more I realized that PCI compliance is a massive pain. So we asked around to see if there was a better way. VGS was recommended by a friend. We talked to other people and all we heard were glowing reviews. We still due diligenced the heck out of you. For us the relationship has been great. We’re able to gain valuable insights from our customers’ data without ever actually having the liability of possessing secure credentials that must be tokenized. We also get to inherit VGS’s PCI Level 1 compliance so we don’t have to build it ourselves.
Q - What does Zero Data mean to you?
Thomas - I completely get your Zero Data concept. It’s very similar to the origin of AWS. Amazon taught us that we no longer have to buy our own servers and put them in a closet somewhere. The same type of secular shift is now happening for sensitive data. Why would anyone deal with this type of data if they don’t have to? Look at all the data breaches out there. Old companies with legacy systems will never be secure, no matter how much money is spent on updating them. I can only imagine the conversations that are happening inside these companies right now.
Q - How has VGS helped Trim?
Thomas - For us VGS really allows to focus on our comparative advantage. Like any startup, we have limited engineering resources, and the best return for us is to focus them directly on the problem we are solving for our customers. So we’re like - “Hey, VGS can we use your wheel?” - essentially, why would we want to reinvent the wheel when you have one? It’s also about cost, reliability and sleeping better at night not having to worry about compliance and security.
Q - How do you see the relationship evolving over time?
Thomas - The relationship will only become more important especially when I look at the trajectory of our business. Not only are we adding many more customers but we are also becoming more embedded in their financial lives, making VGS even more critical.
Q - How do you quantify the benefit of VGS?
Thomas - I don’t know the exact amount VGS saves us but it is significant. In terms of engineering time, we’re able to spend dramatically less effort worrying about security because we’re able to build on a rock-solid infrastructure at VGS. Security engineers are usually very specialized and if we were to build this in-house, we would not just wing it, we’d have to hire the best, which is never cheap.
Q - Any advice for other startups who are beginning their PCI journey?
Thomas - I would use the same analysis for VGS and PCI that you would for AWS versus buying and maintaining your own servers. It’s just a no-brainer to use VGS for PCI compliance.
Q - Who is your favorite superhero and why?
Thomas- I'd pick Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story. Buzz, if you remember, is a toy action figure who believes that he is an actual superhero, in a Don Quixote-esque way. The lesson is that anyone can be a superhero, if they so believe.
Q - How can people sign up with Trim?
Thomas - Super easy. Just go to our website - www.asktrim.com.
What is Trim? Trim is a holistic financial management service that enables users to achieve their financial goals through personalized recommendations and savings opportunities. For more information, visit www.asktrim.com.