A San Francisco company run by three men with local roots is relocating its headquarters to Silver Spring.
Truebill Inc., founded in 2011 by brothers Haroon, Yahya and Idris Mokhtarzada, has taken over space in the Silver Spring Centre at 8455 Colesville Rd.
Earlier in their careers, Haroon and Idris also cofounded Webs.com, a website creation platform also based in Silver Spring. The company was sold to Vistaprint in 2011.
“When they acquired us, I stayed on with them for several years as VP of digital strategy,” said Haroon, who had been CEO of Webs.com and is now Truebill’s CEO. “Webs became the digital division of Vistaprint, and that office is still at 1100 Wayne Ave. today.”
In the meantime, the brothers, all of whom graduated from Montgomery Blair High School, started Truebill and applied to Y Combinator, a leading start-up incubator in San Francisco.
“Y Combinator requires you to be out there for three months during the program,” Haroon said. “So my two brothers took the company out there, because I was still at Vistaprint.
“They were already there and had started hiring people, so it just made sense to keep going,” he continued, noting that he joined his brothers about two years ago.
“The mission of Truebill is to meaningfully improve the financial of health of millions of people,” Haroon said. “We started as a really easy tool to view and track people’s subscriptions and bills, because we thought it was becoming increasing difficult to do that.
“What we realized was that so many people loved that, and the idea that people have inefficiencies in their financial life that they don’t know about,” he continued. “So we went from just subscription tracking to well, what are the other inefficiencies and what are the other ways in which we’re not optimizing our finances, and how can an app serve to help people better do that?”
The company has more than 500,000 users of the free app, and also offers optional premium services for which the company charges.
“We will negotiate a bill for you, or cancel a subscription for you,” Haroon cited as examples.
As the company grew, there were several reasons to consider relocating.
“We definitely found it more difficult to hire out there than we thought,” Haroon said. “Not only were salaries higher, but it was just far more competitive than out here. So while there’s access to more talent, there’s also a lot more opportunities for people who want to join start ups.”
A second factor was their former employees here in Silver Spring. Over 10 years with Webs.com, the brothers worked with a lot of people, Haroon said. A number of them wanted to join the Mokhtarzadas again and so were hired locally.
Finally, there was the lure of home, family and lifelong friends.
“We have pretty deep roots here, and so those roots ended up, I think, pulling us back,” Haroon said.
The company will maintain an office in San Francisco and has a small presence in New York City. Currently, about 15 people work for Truebill here, a number that’s expected to double in the next year.
“We found this space on the 16th floor of [8455 Colesville] with fantastic views of the whole area, and it got this great shared space as well on the floor, and it’s a modern design, and we really felt like it fit with our ethos,” Haroon said. In late July, the company moved in.
“When we were looking to come back to town, we obviously looked at a few different areas, even though we’re from here,” Haroon said. “One thing that’s really noteworthy is that the county was really, really great to work with.”
The county offered different ways to help the company, whether it was with recruiting, office build-out or other support, he said.
“There’s plenty of small businesses, but it’s very early for the tech sector in the county,” Haroon said, “and I think they’re excited about supporting that and growing that over time.”
County Executive Marc Elrich plans to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony tomorrow (Oct. 23) at 10 a.m. at 8455 Colesville Rd., Suite 1645, according to a county announcement. Council President Nancy Navarro and Councilmembers Evan Glass, Tom Hucker, Will Jawando, Hans Riemer and Montgomery County Economic Development Interim CEO Bill Tompkins also are expected to attend.
Photo of Haroon Mokhtarzada courtesy Truebill Inc.