Generation Start-up: how Crunch can help people manage their money better

The personal finance app allows users to grow their net worth and achieve financial well-being through a secure platform

Founder and chief executive Husam Aboul Hosn says Crunch aims to make money management easy and accessible to everyone. Photo: Crunch
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Realising that managing personal finances diligently is essential to a well-balanced professional and personal life is the inspiration behind Crunch, a Dubai-based FinTech start-up.

Crunch is a new personal finance management app that aims to empower people by allowing them to manage their money, grow their net worth and achieve financial well-being through a secure platform.

“According to [the] American Psychological Association’s annual report, around 81.5 per cent of Gen Zs and millennials report that money is a significant source of stress. I believe money should not be your source of stress, but instead a tool to help you de-stress,” says Husam Aboul Hosn, founder and chief executive of Crunch.

Crunch, founded in May 2022 under DIFC’s innovation licence, came about when Mr Aboul Hosn, 37, had an epiphany.

The early stage start-up's mission is to make the management of personal finances simple and stress-free by seamlessly synching a user’s bank accounts, credit cards and loans, giving a real-time view of their earnings and spending.

The user can also choose to track accounts, such as their cash account, manually and input transactions themselves.

By using technology including artificial intelligence and machine learning to classify transactions, savings and expenses, Crunch allows users to monitor budgets, view monthly spending, track expenses and set personal financial goals and more.

Mr Aboul Hosn, who was born and raised in Lebanon and is an engineer by profession, started off in the construction industry and struggled with his personal finances.

“Surviving with a humble salary that barely lasted till the end of the month meant my life was comparable to being lost in a maze,” he says.

The turning point was his decision to do a master's degree in business administration at the University of San Diego after being granted a Dean’s Merit Scholarship.

“Student life in the US taught me an essential lesson that I lacked throughout my past years: how to take control of my own financials,” he says.

“User-friendly applications allowed me to track my own savings, set monthly budgets and make healthier financial decisions to achieve my own well-being and get more out of life.”

After completing his degree in 2013, he returned to the Middle East and continued his career in the construction industry, but this time, with a greater focus on cost control, budgeting, project financing, feasibility models and projections.

Even as he achieved professional success, Mr Aboul Hosn grew restless as he sought to share his idea of reaching financial well-being to a larger audience.

“I decided to take the drastic change of leaving the corporate world, quitting my full-time job to focus completely on Crunch,” he says.

“As managing personal finance is not a skill that is taught in schools, we want to make money management easy and accessible to everyone.”

A 2019 financial literacy survey by Visa found that 43 per cent of respondents in the UAE aged between 16 and 24 felt they were not ready to manage their own money, while 53 per cent said schools did not prepare them enough to take care of their finances.

In a separate study by insurance company Friends Provident, about 45 per cent of UAE residents said they had yet to start saving for their retirement.

Crunch was his solution. The app offers multicurrency capabilities and customisable alerts, providing users with all the necessary tools to focus on growing their wealth across several investments and saving options.

Crunch App founder believes that managing your finances should be as effortless as sending a text message.

“At Crunch, we believe that managing your finances should be as effortless as sending a text message. It should be done anywhere, any time, and with just a few clicks.”

The FinTech, which allows customers to connect to 15 UAE lenders, uses bank-grade security, including TLS data encryption and FaceID login, to keep data secure, private, anonymous, safe and protected at all times.

It does not have access to, nor can it store or save, users’ banking credentials.

Crunch has entered into a partnership with Lean Technologies, a technical service provider regulated by the authorities to ensure the highest security standards.

The app has an initial focus on the UAE but plans to expand into neighbouring countries in the short term and grow internationally in the long term.

“We have a long journey ahead of us but I am very optimistic about the way the FinTech landscape is evolving,” says Mr Aboul Hosn.

“Regulations and technologies are accelerating at an unprecedented rate when it comes to open banking, Web3, digital currencies and similar technologies. We can’t wait to play a role in how the space evolves.”

We have a long journey ahead of us but I am very optimistic about the way the FinTech landscape is evolving
Husam Aboul Hosn, founder and chief executive of Crunch

Earlier this year, the company raised a seven-figure sum, in dirhams, in a pre-seed round of funding from family and friends. The funds have been largely used to hire a small software development team and launch a mobile application on the Apple and Google app stores.

An integrated marketing campaign begins in December to attract new users to the app.

“We will be going for a seed round [of funding] targeting a seven-figure amount [in US dollars] early next year. The money will be used for marketing, expanding our team, focusing on new features and growth,” says Mr Aboul Hosn.

Since its launch a few weeks ago, the app’s user adoption rate has been growing 200 per cent week on week organically — even before any spending on marketing.

Crunch has a subscription-based revenue model that costs Dh20 a month, or Dh200 a year, to use the app's unlimited features after the end of the 60-day trial. Alternatively, they can switch to a plan that is free of charge but with limited features.

Changing regulations and a push by governments to support FinTechs in the Mena region make it a ripe market for talent to grow, demand to increase and funding to flourish, says Mr Aboul Hosn.

“We feel that we are coming in at the right time when consumers’ demand speed in every aspect of their life, whether it's buying things, commuting somewhere or even learning something new — managing money and executing financial transactions shouldn’t be any different.”

Company profile

Date started: May 2022
Founder: Husam Aboul Hosn
Based: DIFC
Sector: FinTech — Innovation Hub
Employees: eight
Stage: pre-seed
Investors: pre-seed funding raised from family and friends earlier this year

Q&A with Husam Aboul Hosn, founder and chief executive of the Crunch app

Who first invested in you?

I am grateful to have had an extremely solid and powerful support system of my family and friends who were confident about my determination to succeed and my advocacy to create social and financial impact.

Their belief fuelled my drive to keep going, and their patience in listening to me talking about Crunch, sharing constructive and on-point feedback, was so valuable.

What already successful start-up do you wish you had started?

I have always been intrigued by the intervention of technology in our wellness and health and how, if used properly, it will improve our performance, habitual acts and mindset. One example that actually comes to mind is Whoop.

What is the next big dream you plan to make a reality?

Depending on how fast the regulations will facilitate our operations, I would like to see a world where blockchain technology is better used to make our lives easier in all aspects, specifically when it comes to money-related activities.

What new skills have you learnt in the process of launching your start-up?

Given the nature of a start-up, where you have to pull up your sleeves and work to build several aspects of the business, I have learnt huge amounts, right across legal, marketing, financial, finding talent and selling the vision.

But the most valuable skill, in my experience, a key to success, is resilience. By that, I mean adapting to adversity and staying calm and focused in the face of discouraging events.

Who is your role model?

I look up to several role models who have taught me different values. I admire Mark Cuban’s business acumen and motivation and how he was able to build an empire. I also look up to Warren Buffett and his understanding of long-term rewards, but most importantly his ability to stay humble.

I will also never forget my parents, who taught me integrity and showed me first-hand the importance of prioritising health, family, relationships.

I am constantly learning and unlearning from different role models by reading books and listening to podcasts — my favourite two podcasts would be: The Diary of a CEO by Steven Bartlett and The School of Greatness by Lewis Howes, who bring on inspirational leaders or experts every week to discuss things such as personal well-being, love, business challenges and mental health.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

With the way technology is exponentially evolving, it is difficult to predict that. I would like to say I will still be building something that I am passionate about that makes me feel fulfilled but, most importantly, something that helps people get a sense of purpose and live a more meaningful life.

If you could start all over again, what would you do differently?

I would have started earlier in following my passion and what I believe in. It is extremely fulfilling to do something you are passionate about, even with all the fear that comes with it.

Updated: November 28, 2022, 4:30 AM
Company profile

Date started: May 2022
Founder: Husam Aboul Hosn
Based: DIFC
Sector: FinTech — Innovation Hub
Employees: eight
Stage: pre-seed
Investors: pre-seed funding raised from family and friends earlier this year