For many, university is a place to find lifelong friends and companions, for some, you could even meet your future business partners. This was the case for UoM graduates Edoardo Moreni and Antonio Marino, who in their final year of studies started a venture that would become the building blocks for “Emma”.
“Emma is a financial advocate,” Edoardo explains, “she can help people in avoiding overdrafts, finding and cancelling subscriptions, tracking debt and saving money.” Somewhat of a necessary evil in the bottomless pit of university expenses, especially when Emma could be saving you a good chunk of your student finance; “Our data shows she can save up to £600 every year!”
“We believe we are at the right time in history where we can democratize the figure of the private wealth manager” Edoardo states, emphasising the inclusive nature of the app for customers. “We can build a technology whose only aim is to improve our users financial well being, regardless of who they are or where they come from.”
To be able to have a financial aid at your fingertips can be extremely beneficial and enriching (literally) to the lives of many. We don’t all learn how to keep our cheques in check at school, and having to navigate the world of taxes, debt and income can be a daunting task. But what makes the Emma app different to the rest?
“Emma is the only product that is able to provide a subscriptions tracker, a savings functionality and an aggregation tool all in one place.” Edoardo went on to explain that “there is no other product out there that can offer an all in one solution; that’s why people tend to have 3 or 4 different finance apps. We think they should have only one.”
Emma can also monitor events such as refunds, linked transactions, incoming salaries or budgets. “We use machine learning and data science to monitor the behaviour of our users and help them make adjustments to improve their finances.”
But where did it all begin? “Me and Antonio met in the first week of University. We were actually the only two Italians in our Computer Science course and so we ended up becoming friends.” Eduardo believes his experience at UoM helped him greatly with what was to come next:
“University is about what you experience and feel, rather than just textbooks. There is an immense background of events, friendships, emotions that have helped me in understanding others and also setting up a business.”
Manchester invites the likes of many successful people through its grand and gothic archways, and after entering the Techcrunch Disrupt London Hackathon and winning the William Hill Sponsor Prize in their final year, Edoardo and Antonio were set to be two of them.
“It was a two-day competition where teams build a concept, such as an app, and then win prizes,” Edoardo explains. With storming the competition and winning the William Hill Sponsor Prize, they began a world tour with their idea.
“After finishing our exams, we were able to travel around the world for a month, from Dubai to Las Vegas, and we realised we had to start a business together. That’s why we moved to Berlin in September 2016 and spent the next few months looking at the finance industry.”Photo: Edoardo Moreni
“We soon understood that the many financial products and a banking world, which is not consumer-centric, were creating problems in the lives of many people. For this reason, we moved back to London with the aim to start building Emma.”
One thing I really wanted to know, was just who IS Emma? Was the app named after someone? Edoardo explained that actually, Emma is an acronym.
“While we were in Uni, we were part of several different “side projects”, which had different names. In our second year, we ran a web consulting business called Magna Ideas. Our original pick, for the name, was Emma. This comes from our initials: (E)dorado (M)oreni and (M)arino (A)ntonio.”
“In the end, we never used that name, but we knew, from the moment we started thinking about what we were going to build next, that this was the time for Emma.”
And it suits the app well, just like the draw of Siri, the app is almost like a companion, more personalised by being named, it really feels like you’ve got someone at hand to help you when you need it. And Emma — or more Edoardo — has aspirations for the future.
“We want to build an Artificial Intelligence that will be able to handle and monitor all your finances from anywhere. Wherever you go or whatever you are buying, Emma will be there to assist and help you.”
Emma is currently in closed beta, so the access is restricted. However, there is an exclusive link for Mancunion readers, with 200 invites, that you can find here.
Any reader can skip the queue of thousands and get exclusive access right away. If you are looking for more info regarding Emma, you can visit the website here.