By Marisol Bulacio-Watier
Making sound financial decisions has become a task for consumers who continuously live having to weigh between an endless number of choices in a highly competitive market. Even when considering plans for basic services such as cellphone coverage or home internet, finding the best value has grown into one complicated and time consuming endeavor.
Squeeze.com, a local personal finance company, has recently come to the rescue with a unique online platform designed to clear-up the confusion and help consumers save money on recurring household bills, credit cards, and loans.
“The working class and the middle class in this country are being squeezed,” observed Elias Janetis, founder and CEO of Boca Raton-based Squeeze.com. “I want to build a company that can empower people to spend their money wiser,” he told The Boca Voice.
Squeeze is a comparison website, the first of its kind, noted the company in a recent press release, where people are able to view and shop for the best deals on cell phone, cable and internet services, as well as search for the most competitive interest rates for mortgage loans, personal loans, auto loans, credit cards, and insurance “all in one place.”
“Squeeze provides ways to save on 70% of the average American’s household budget,” said Janetis. “We’re the first platform to create a one-stop shopping experience for recurring bills with easy-to-access information allowing consumers to finally squeeze back, what took hours, now takes minutes.”
Through Squeeze, Janetis seeks to empower those who utilize this free service to save money and grow their own wealth. “We are focused on helping all Americans,” he told us.
A native of Long Island, Janetis moved to Palm Beach County in 2006 to help care for his grandmother, and shortly afterward he settled in Boca Raton to both set-up the headquarters of another very successful entrepreneurial business, MobileHelp, and raise his family with his wife with whom he has four children.
The idea for Squeeze came to him three years ago in a vision that made him realize about the need for a comparison platform that assists people in making smart financial decisions. Thus, the new company “set out to disrupt the personal financial technology space” which endless choices create a largely confusing market.
In his own words, Janetis recounts the story of Squeeze’s birth in our Q&A section, as well as his goals for the company and his personal growth as an entrepreneur.
How did you realize about the need for such a unique platform as Squeeze?
Everyone is bombarded with personal finance information and offers. Confused consumers have been clamoring for a better way to make financial decisions.
On September 14, 2015, on the tarmac of LaGuardia airport, I get a vision. It comes to me. I sit down in my seat. I close my eyes and I see Squeeze – problem, solution, revenue model. This is how you’re going to do it. The next morning, I put it all down on a PowerPoint, and I start building the business from that day.
Who are some of the key characters that made this venture possible? What are some memorable or surprising stories you encountered working with them?
I believe success is never created in a vacuum. After Squeeze came to me in a vision, I had several people come beside me at different times to execute on the vision. My COO Brent Campbell keeps the company organized and helps manage our team. Phil Wiebe my CTO has been instrumental in helping me find local developers to build our technology in Boca Raton. The most memorable moment, and I’d say miraculous, is when we raised our first round of capital in four hours. Yes, you read that right. In one afternoon we brought in the capital we needed for the first phase of our development. It took me over two and a half years to raise that much money on my previous venture with MobileHelp, which became a local success story.
How many people are currently employed by Squeeze?
10 and growing.
What are the goals you personally want to accomplish for the company?
The working class and the middle class in this country are being squeezed. I want to build a company that can empower people to spend their money wiser. I want Squeeze to become the most important personal finance company in America. I think we have the right brand, the right roadmap, and the right solution. Now’s the hard work.
What was your first job and what did you learn from it?
My first job (paying job) was delivering Newsday papers on Long Island. I also raked leaves in the fall, shoveled sidewalks in the winter, and mowed lawns in the summer. I was raised that if you wanted something, you better go out and earn it. I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 18, because that’s when I could buy my own car, and more importantly pay for my own car insurance.
In college, I did everything from be a laborer on construction sites, clean laundry mats, and even worked on the railroad!
I think of myself as a disruptive entrepreneur and have always been on the lookout for opportunities to re-envision industries. Squeeze, for example, is a personal finance company on a mission to help consumers save money, reduce debt and grow their wealth.
Prior to Squeeze, I founded the disruptive healthcare technology company MobileHelp, which changed the way seniors could get emergency assistance. By employing innovative GSM/GPS technology for the first time, seniors could obtain nationwide access to help, even outside their homes. MobileHelp has become a local success story with approximately 200 employees today and saving the lives of hundreds of seniors almost daily.
I was also Founder and CEO of HomeMed Systems, a provider of groundbreaking safety products for seniors and persons with disabilities. I am extremely proud to have gained the acclaim of the SBDC & Benjamin Franklin Technology Partners, for the platform’s Alzheimer’s tracking system component.
I’ve learned that technology needs to better serve the needs of a broad spectrum of consumers. That’s the takeaway that led to Squeeze.
Who was your mentor growing up and what is the best piece of advice that you received from him/her?
That’s easy. My grandfather was self-employed and he encouraged me to be an entrepreneur. He said, “your college buddies will all seem like they’re making more progress the first 5 years. You’ll be struggling, building, but with hard work and persistence, eventually you’ll surpass them all.” That actually happened.
What advice would you have given to yourself 20 years ago and is there anything that you wish you did differently?
I wish I focused on work life balance earlier. I’m a father of 4, and some days I wonder if I spent too much time doing things that in the end really don’t matter. Thankfully, they’re young, and I’ve found a lot more balance. Today is always a great day to make a change.
Where did you grow up and how did Squeeze’s headquarters end-up in Boca Raton?
I was born on Long Island and moved to Pennsylvania when I was 13. In December 2006, I moved to Palm Beach County, a few months after my grandfather passed away, to help keep an eye on my grandmother, who was then recently diagnosed with dementia. One month before the housing collapse! Great timing huh?! After a short stint in Boynton Beach, we moved to Boca Raton where we set up headquarters for MobileHelp. My wife and I decided to stay here to raise our family and reinvest in the community.
How does it feel to have finally launched the Squeeze website?
I’m very happy, but I never spend too much time celebrating what we have accomplished when there’s so much more work to do. I’m thrilled to witness consumers currently Squeezing 70% of their household bills, including a cellphone, cable, internet, mortgages, home equity lines of credit, personal loans, student loans, credit cards, homeowner’s and renter’s insurance and auto insurance. What we save the consumer, we save them every single month. It adds up to meaningful dollars.
What would you say is Squeeze’s biggest contribution to the community?
Where Boca is concerned we’re building an innovative company and hiring locals. We are focused on helping all American’s. Squeeze has built a free, time saving online tool as a one-stop-shopping platform, to get a better deal on all your big monthly recurring bills. The platform is a game-changer for our community and for consumers all over the country. Squeeze is succeeding in clearing up consumer confusion on how to save money on household bills.