Update: Meiwin’s first casual arcade game – “Pick a Pair” is out. Download here and try.

In this interview, I write to Meiwin Fu about his latest project – Clara, Personal Finance Tracker. You can get Clara at app store here.

Meiwin is one of the best iOS developers in Singapore whose work I follow closely.


0. Let’s start with a short introduction. Who are you?

Hi, I am Meiwin Fu. I am a software engineer with 10 years mileage. I am currently working at a small startup in Singapore, building software product for the enterprise.

1. What is Clara?

Clara is iPhone/iPod Touch app for tracking personal finances (expenses and incomes). It’s a personal project of mine.


2. What is the reason for starting Clara?

Clara is not really a new project, I built similar apps in the past that do the same (GotExpenses, then Piggie). Both apps are no longer maintained, one of them has been pulled from App Store long ago.

I started Clara as a replacement app to Piggie.

3.When was Clara Launched?

Clara is launching on 20 February 2014.

4. How was it launched?

No specific marketing effort really, just slowly building up awareness via Facebook page and telling friends.

5. What motivates you to be doing Clara?

I build Clara for myself to answer simple question: ‘Where does my money go? Am I spending too much? Do I save enough money?’.

Piggie was built for the same motivation. Ever since I stop working on Piggie, I tried to find good replacement but never did successfully.

So I decided to start fresh, and I build Clara as the result.

6. Where do you get your design inspiration from?

There are few apps where Clara draw its inspiration from, some could be pretty obvious.

For example, the navigation tab bar is design from a popular twitter client, Tweetbot.

The typeface used is Avenir. heavily used by app called Vesper. (Edited: A common friend told meiwin and I that Vesper is using typeface Ideal Sans:)

You may also find the swiping-right navigation familiar, I first saw this design used in Simplenote app.

Then the animated amount input is inspired by Square Cash app.

Lastly, you would see in the main view of the app, the summary details stick to the top as you pull down.

This is the same design used by Apple’s own app store app.

So there you are, the 5 apps that inspire Clara’s design.

And for how the app works and other small details, they are coming from experience building and using similar apps myself.

7. How long did you spend to create the initial prototype?

I started the idea of building Clara around August/September 2013.

At first, I was experimenting with a new idea/approach for tracking money. It took 3 months to design and build.

But it was later scrapped because I realized it doesn’t work (after using it myself for sometime).

So I started again from beginning. It takes me another 3-4 months to design and develop the current Clara.

Since this my personal project, I can only afford to spend very limited hours per week.

The fact is that I am also splitting the available times between family and working on Clara.

I think I spend an average of 10 hours per week.

Between design (prototyping on paper/Sketch app) and development, the ratio is around 40:60.

8. What can we expect from Clara?

There are few things I have in mind, such as iPad version, iCloud syncing, multiple vaults, PDF reporting, etc.

But I have not decided any.

For the near future, I will focus primarily on app stability and minor tweaks.

I will gather initial feedbacks from users to help decide what to work on next.

9. What features can we expect from Clara?

There are 3 important features I am looking for in a personal finance app:

  1. Tracking expenses and incomes is not a fun thing to do (unlike playing game like Flappy Bird). Because of that, the data entry must be effortless so it wouldn’t discourage you from doing it.

  2. It must be flexible when it comes to categorizing records. Apps that fix on categories or has complicated step to create a category is a no-no.

  3. It should be simple, but not simplistic. Hence it should provide basic analysis tool.

You could expect 1 and 2 to be in Clara. As for 3, Clara could be little complicated for new users. I just can’t make it simpler.

10. How much are you charging for Clara?

Clara will be selling at US$3.99 (or S$4.58).

For the launching, I’ll be running limited 3-days promo at 50% OFF.

11. How can we contact Clara?

You could send email to claraapp [at] blockthirty.com

12. Where can we find you (and also clara) online?

Facebook: http://fb.com/theclaraapp

Twitter: http://twitter.com/theclaraapp

Website: http://clara.blockthirty.com

13. Why do you name the app Clara?

I named Clara after my daughter’s middle name. I wanted to name it Clarity at the beginning.