How Zeta’s Aditi Shekar Helps Couples and Families Plan Their Future
The Transparent Collective alum on making the joint bank account work for modern households
By Jessen O’Brien
For most of the last century, it was common for households to have a single earner who managed the finances. While many couples and families have moved on from this approach, many financial institutions haven’t. To a large degree, joint accounts aren’t truly set up for the way that modern households handle finances: as a team.
“I’ve been obsessed with personal finance since I got my first paycheck,” says Aditi Shekar, the founder and CEO Zeta, a financial institution that offers a modern-day joint account for couples and families.
“After spending years working alongside young colleagues, I was surprised at the lack of financial support they had. At the same time, I was frustrated by my own experience in trying to combine finances with my partner. To solve both these problems, I launched Zeta.
We sat down with the Transparent Collective alum to learn more about the unique challenges that couples and families face in financial planning, what’s next for Zeta, and why she thinks Transparent Collective’s mission is so important.
What inspired you to found Zeta, and what problems does it solve?
I ran into several hurdles trying to manage shared finances with my husband early on in our relationship. We were making very different incomes and had very different spending habits. We were trying to find tools to help us spend and save money together, and when we went to Google looking for answers, we didn’t find a lot of advice or education that felt relevant to us. As I started sharing this story with others, it became clear that this was a problem other couples (and families!) were struggling with as well.
From there, I founded Zeta. Our first product was a personal finance manager made just for couples — one built to enable transparency and ease the burden of relying on multiple and manual tools (like Venmo and Splitwise) to manage it all. As tens of thousands of couples started using Zeta Money Manager, we saw over and over again how they were consistently struggling with a few core things:
- How to stay on the same page about what was happening with their shared finances;
- How to coordinate multiple paychecks and timelines around shared bills and savings goals;
- And how to save for the things that really mattered to them at the end of the day.
It became evident that the existing tools weren’t doing the job, and we could see all the various ways couples were hacking better solutions together. We jumped on the opportunity and decided to focus on modernizing the joint account, an account that the majority of families were still trying to use. That said, this is just the beginning. Our goal is to expand the joint account to support all members of the nuclear (and extended) family including kids, elderly parents, and siblings.
What sets Zeta apart from its competitors?
The way couples and families operate today has changed drastically from the way previous generations did. It used to be that in the majority of situations, there was a sole breadwinner who managed the family’s finances. Today, in the majority of cases, couples and families are now operating off of dual incomes.
There’s been a fundamental shift in who’s earning money, how they’re earning it, and how they’re sharing it. Even the nature of money itself has become more social and collaborative with the rest of third-party and peer-to-peer payment apps!
We found that the finance world was stuck in a single-player mode mentality that didn’t speak to or work for couples families trying to manage their finances together. We created Zeta to try to fill this gap and trulandy embrace the concept of multiplayer banking as well as the organic, cooperative ways that money is used.
How do you plan to continue evolving Zeta?
While we started with a joint banking solution, it’s our goal to serve the whole family. In order to do so, we plan to roll out a variety of accounts, including individual accounts, kids’ accounts, and joint accounts that support many combinations of people. We want to support broader family use cases, which means everything from a parent sharing an account with a young adult learning to navigate their personal finances for the first time to siblings co-managing an account in order to collectively support an elderly parent.
We started with the hair-on-fire problem for most families — which is the day-to-day functioning of a household — but we aspire to evolve so that we can support every life event and key financial moment families experience as they grow.
Beyond banking, Zeta wants to help you get through that first car, first home, retirement planning, and more. Our future roadmap includes things like taxes, mortgages, and better family-based lending (which is very much stuck in single-player mode).
What drew you to the Transparent Collective?
I hugely appreciated that there was an accelerator designed for POC founders. It felt like our experiences were going to be unique and different from some of our peers; I wanted to understand and learn to navigate that dynamic early on, build a peer group to rely on, and, frankly, learn from some incredible people.
What was the experience in your cohort like?
It was an intense experience learning about the ins and outs of things I never thought about, even as an early employee! But TC made a huge effort to help source experts who gave us hands-on and highly relevant support while still making sure we got through the broad strokes such as company formation, venture overview, and the VC mindset. I remember getting to hang out with the PM who built Square’s business debit card and learning so much from their experience.
What was the most valuable part of your cohort?
The hands on support mentioned above! Plus hearing about the things other founders were trying to navigate: employees, patents, fundraising, etc. Sometimes you don’t know what questions to ask until someone else asks them.
Why do you think the Transparent Collective’s mission of helping underrepresented founders is so important?
As humans, we have a tendency to under attribute what’s given to us and over attribute what’s earned. In part, it’s because privilege is a very hard thing to quantify. Leveling the playing field for folks from across the various walks of life is bound to build a more interesting, inclusive, and impactful world.
What advice would you give to other underrepresented founders?
The same I’d give any founder: Just don’t give up.
What book do you wish you read before you started your entrepreneurial journey?
If you’re building a venture business, it’s super important to understand the VC mindset and get comfy with talking about financing and fundraising. I found Brad Feld’s Venture Deals course and book to be an excellent resource to get up to speed on all this stuff!
I understand that you’ve started to angel invest. What motivated you to do so, and how does being on the other side of the table inform how you approach funding as a founder?
I’ve always learned the most in my career from other founders. When all my friends were buying Teslas, I was buying Tesla stock, and lucky for me, that paid off. I decided to use the proceeds to invest in other founders simply so I could learn even more.
Having written 10 checks in two years, I’ve learned that investing is a) something I never want to be my full time job; and b) incredibly useful in learning to understand an investor’s process and mentality. But my biggest lesson has been that investing in areas you deeply understand is actually way more fun and valuable than doing it haphazardly (admittedly, I made that mistake).