Let this be a lesson to the clients that insist on paying us too much. I try to tell them: the best businesses grow from a simple concept, executed fanatically but not hastily, and grown organically. Mint is a prime example.
Tue Sep 15
What’s perhaps even more amazing about this opportunity is that we made it to this point just three years after the company started: one year to build, and two years in operation. I doubt this could have happened anywhere but Silicon Valley. Mint was built in the Silicon Valley way. It started in my apartment, with Matt Snider and Poornima Vijayashanker. We interviewed the first real “professional,” our VP of Engineering, David Michaels in our kitchen. Our technology was all open source, and essentially all free: MySQL at the bottom, Hibernate to avoid the need to hire a DBA, Tomcat on Apache, Yahoo’s YUI served as the base for our AJAXy goodness. We didn’t have money for a lawyer, but no fewer than three offered to help us incorporate and accrue $25k in legal fees for a little bit of the company. We shared office space in a type of incubator, renting by the cube to avoid a long-term lease. We didn’t have money for advertising, so we started a blog. We didn’t have money for writers, so most of our original blog content then was guest posts from other personal finance blogs, plus a couple of columns on people’s worst financial disasters. To build demand, we started asking for email addresses for our alpha 9 months in advance of launch. Then when we had too many people sign up, we asked people to put a little badge that said “I want Mint” on their blogs to get priority access. We got free advertising and 600 link backs which raised our SEO juice.