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How can we make budgeting more accessible for millenials who are afraid to check their bank account? 


Stash is a mobile app that helps millennials better understand how the actions they take today with their money will impact their lives in the future.

This project was sponsored by JP Morgan Chase and we were mentored by Wilbert Gutierrez, Vice President, User Experience Design Lead at JP Morgan Chase & Co and advised by instructors Roger Mader and Criswell Lapin as part of the Design for Strategic Innovation class at SVA.


I worked on this project with Sejal Kotak and Young Jang during Fall Semester of 2016. I was the point person for communications with Chase, lead the academic research, focused on streamlining the interactions, and developed the business case for Stash. 


We started our research by looking at global and micro trends effecting millennials and the financial industry. The major take away we found was that consumers are expecting more and more personalized services because they undersatnd how much data companies have about them, but banks have been slow to use their data to provide value for millennials in meaningful ways. Transactional data tells a story about how we spend our lives, and often the bank knows more about our spending habits than we do.

In addition to desk research we also talked to our classmates, conducted extended interviews of six millenials in different life stages and four businesses serving them, and developed an online survey that got 74 responses. Going through the data we found three numbers that guided the rest of our process: 

The largest insight came when listening to the TED Radio Hour podcast with and heard about the work of Hal Hershfield. He claims that 

Synthesis & Ideation

Based off of what we had learned we put together several different ideas. We bounced around from an interactive piece of art a user could hang on their wall to to a finanical accountability "sorrority" platform. We prototyped one idea we focused on getting millennials to talk to each other either in person or online about money. After getting feedback from our classmates and our friends we realized that although millennials wanted to learn more they didn't really want to talk about it with others.

As a result we took a step back to better understand how we wanted our users to feel when they interacted with our product. We decided we wanted users to feel healthy, happy, and confident and our app to be personal, intelligent, and friendly.

We took those insight and decided to focus on a conversational UI that helps people understand their spending habits and how they effect their future.


Our first Stash prototype used SMS texting to simulate a conversation. We asked some of our classmates to track their spending for a day. The next day, we texted them information about their "budget". From this we learned that the daily summary was helpful, but users wanted more in the ways of the system doing the calculations for them and making smart recommendations (hacks) to help them save more and work toward their goals. As a result, we decided that the product needed to be a stand-alone app. Over the next few weeks we prototyped different versions of text-based interfaces with friends and classmates. As we teseted the interaction we learned how often different users may want to use the app and what type of information they wanted.

We made a breakthrough with a feature that allows you to talk to your future self. When a users open the app we will show them an aged version of themselves as the one sending messages. This adds personalization and helps the users think about how the decisions they make today will make an impact on their lives tomorrow. Stash became more than just a budgeting app sending you info, but a message from yourself.



Understanding Business Models

Throughout the project we researched different business models that popular tools like Mint, Simple, Y.N.A.B. and others used. We decided that we wanted the app to be ad-free, low-cost, and not as high-commitment as creating a bank account. Based on the comfort of millennials with subscription services we decided to test an annual subscription model.

During this process we also defined what our beta would be, developed cost projections to get to Beta and MVP, and ideated on the best ways to get to market.

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