New budgeting app Wilbur comes with a unique proposition: free cash

Co-founders Mike Rodenburgh and Josh Cormie created Wilbur to help consumers and businesses alike

Mike Rodenburgh and Josh Cormie spied an opportunity. The two former Ipsos executives thought they could attach everything they knew about survey data to other things related to customers. The natural fit was a consumer budgeting app, similar to Intuit’s Mint, that records transactions in a database.

“Twenty percent of a survey is usually asking questions about what you’ve done as a consumer: How much you spent, where you spent it, all that kind of stuff,” says Rodenburgh. “We can use data inside the app and make the survey shorter but it’s far more accurate.”

So they created a company, SquareKnot Analytics—“I’m a sailor and if you want two lines to work together, you tie a square knot,” says Rodenburgh­—and an app called Wilbur—a reference to the pig in Charlotte’s Web (piggy bank, get it?). The company currently has six employees. Rodenburgh is based in Vancouver; Cormie is in Toronto.

Wilbur is free. Inside the app, users click a button to participate in surveys. For 10-minute surveys, respondents get paid $2 and are incentivized to answer multiple surveys to earn extra side cash. The value proposition comes when SquareKnot sells the data (anonymously, of course) for more than that $2.

“Everything is done with informed consent, and everything is anonymous in nature,” says Rodenburgh. “We’re not in the business of selling identities, we are in the business of selling the data.”

But even as Rodenburgh and Cormie—who launched the platform earlier this year—had mapped out what they thought was a smart value proposition for customers, they also had the benefit of what they admit was a strike of luck.

At the end of March, Mint, Canada’s most well-known budgeting app was shut down by its parent company, Intuit. Other competitors have started to poke their heads into the Canadian market after the news, but SquareKnot thinks it can take a big piece of the pie.

“First, we’re the only free app out there, and second, we’re the only app in the budget space that will pay you money for participating in the surveys,” says Rodenburgh. “Respondents aren’t compensated enough for their time. If I can figure out way to monetize my data for a little bit more money than competition, I want some of that to go into the pockets of consumers.”

Rodenburgh is a veteran of the investing scene—he’s got stock in B.C. startups like Mesentech and Sanctuary AI—and that’s come in handy when raising capital for Wilbur. Rodenburgh is eyeing some $900,000 in investment.

“No business is 100-percent risk-free,” he says. “I do think that we understand the industry very well and my experience as an investor has helped me make sure that we build a solid business plan that is fiscally prudent. We want to grow smart. You can get growth just by pouring gasoline on the fire, but it may not necessarily be the most efficient.”