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Playing with the big boys

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Friday, February 27

BRATTLEBORO -- Financial software developed in Putney is giving industry biggie Quicken a run for its money. IGG Software's iBank program, a personal finance manager designed especially for the Mac community, has been winning converts who are impressed with its ease of use, its style and its many features.

Some in the industry asked Ian Gillespie, founder and president of IGG Software, how he expected to compete with Quicken, which was developed by Intuit.

"Because a lot of people are fed up with Quicken," was his response. "They don't like the way Intuit has been treating its Mac customers. They are very eager to jump ship."

IGG was founded in 2003 by Gillespie.

He set up shop in Putney mainly for personal reasons. Gillespie and his family moved from California to Putney 412 years ago. He grew up in Connecticut.

"Because of the work I do, I had a unique opportunity to work anywhere high-speed Internet is available."

He chose Putney because of the lifestyle in Windham County.

"Putney and the greater Brattleboro area looked really inviting. It's a great place to raise a family and has a vibrant arts community."

Gillespie employs four full-timers and four part-timers. Recently he hired an additional part-timer, but has no plans at this time to hire more employees.

"At least through the summer," he said.

He called the founding of IGG an "anti-startup" in which he didn't take out loans or look for investors. Instead, he spent weeknights and weekends working on the software.

"It took on a life of its own. Now it's self-sustaining."

Writing software wasn't Gillespie's first calling. He has a doctorate in botany and was working on his post-doctorate when he got tired of working with Quicken.

"I could do something better than this," he thought at the time. "Quicken is nothing special. So I went for it."

First he developed iBiz, time-tracking and invoicing software for Mac users. Then some of his customers began asking him for financial management software, leading to the development of iBank.

Gillespie attributed iBank's success to its look and feel, which is more compatible with Macs than Quicken is.

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"We designed the interface so that it is a very familiar layout, similar to the other applications that ship on a new Mac. It looks and behaves as people expect a Mac application to look and behave."

Unique features include the ability to organize and categorize expenses in the minutest detail, which is not possible in Quicken, he said.

"You can create as many rules as you want to keep an eye on your money management."

iBank 3 features automatic account downloads, interactive graphs powered by Core Animation, loan management and synching capability from an iPhone or iPod Touch. It also includes a special function allowing for the seamless transfer of years of Quicken files into iBank.

Gillespie has also developed a version of iBank that can be downloaded to an iPhone. He called the iPhone application "a little Web application that runs on your phone and lets you synchronize transactions with iBank documents on your Mac."

The iPhone application will soon become a "native" application that customers will be able to download at the iTunes Web site.

"The program is robust," he said. "It solves problems for people on the road."

Using the iPhone application, people can check their balances and even enter transactions into iBank.

"Throw out your checkbook," said Gillespie.

The current iPhone application, however, doesn't allow users to make payments.

Developing iBank and keeping it current is an ongoing job, said Gillespie.

"We are always finding areas that are not as easy as they should be," he said. "We've been implementing those improvements at an accelerated pace and that's making iBank a more compelling and competitive choice for former Quicken users."

Gillespie, 31, said his software expertise is "partly self-taught and partly schooled."

"I've always had an interest in computers. For my Ph.D, I actually wrote some population modeling software I wanted to use in my research."

iBank can be found in area stores, including Brown Computer Solutions in Brattleboro.

On Wednesday, IGG released an updated version of iBank at a cost of $60, or free to current users of iBank 3. It is available for download at

Bob Audette can be reached at, or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.

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