The typical workday, particularly in startup mode, is from nine to six or nine to seven, then you take a two-hour break to work out and eat dinner. By that time, you're relaxed, and then you work until midnight or one A.M. If there was no break with physical activity, you'd be more tired and less alert.
One third of the economy goes through 'QuickBooks' in terms of businesses invoicing other businesses. Each invoice contains a connection between vendors, suppliers, and customers, and also the price of that connection. Representing the payment graph is huge opportunity and something no other company can do.
I always knew I wanted to be a technologist, so I went to Duke and got a degree in computer science and electrical engineering. Really, I thought my goal in life was to be an inventor, a problem solver, so I thought I needed a Ph.D. to be good at inventions, but it turns out that you don't.
I've actually started a number of businesses in my career. So I'm 28 currently, but when I was about 16, I started building Websites, and that's how I put myself through school. I went to Duke with a degree in electrical engineering, computer science, computer engineering, and then to Princeton.
I'm typically a 'just drink water' kind of guy. I was a bodybuilder in high school, so I used to - food to me was, 'there are this many grams of carbohydrates and proteins, and I need these micronutrients in order to grow and be fit,' and I ate in order to live and not live in order to eat, and I think most people are the opposite.
One of my top tips for aspiring entrepreneurs: Tell everyone you know about your idea. This runs contrary to the instinct that most people have, because they're afraid someone is going to 'steal my ideal.' Ideas alone are worth very little; it's in the execution and market feedback that companies are made.
I think sports and bodybuilding were the only things that saved me from getting beat up. People are not pleased, for whatever reason, when you can answer all the questions in class. If not for the respect I got from track, cross-country, wrestling and bodybuilding, it would have been a disaster.
I wanted to build a tool for my generation: people 20 to 40 who don't want to spend time balancing a checkbook or checking multiple financial institutions' websites. Mint does just that, giving comprehensive, quick insights into a user's finances from their computer, mobile phone and/or tablet.
When I was 8 or 9, I started using bulletin board systems, which was the precursor to the Internet, where you'd dial into... a shared system and shared computers. I've had an email address since the late '80s, when I was 8 or 9 years old, and then I got on the Internet in '93 when it was first starting out.
I actually don't invest in anything that is social, mobile, deals or ad networks simply because those are areas where there are so many players and so many other smart people in the space, I feel like I don't have a competitive advantage. So I tend to go after things that are e-commerce, like healthcare.
After building most of Mint.com's prototype by myself, I talked to anyone and everyone I knew about Mint. It's counter-intuitive, because you might fear someone will steal your idea, but it's the only way to make connections, be sure you're on the right track, and provide a solution for an audience broader than yourself.
I consider myself an inventor first and an entrepreneur second. In real life, my hero is Thomas Edison. He was a great inventor, but also an outstanding entrepreneur who was able to sell his inventions to the masses. He didn't just develop the light bulb; he invented the entire electric grid and power distribution system.
Before Mint.com, I was a long-time user of 'Microsoft Money' and Intuit's 'Quicken.' Both were powerful tools, loaded with features and functionality around taxes, investment, budgeting - too feature-laden, in fact. They took hours to set up, forever to learn, and an hour a week to maintain.
Kevin Systrom of Instagram used to work for us as a consultant in the early days of Mint. I knew him a long time ago. Maybe I could have gotten in there. But with photo sharing, I don't know if there's an obvious business model. I don't think there's a competitive, sustainable advantage.
Mint's business model became, 'We'll go for free, and then we'll find these savings opportunities for you.' You know, better interest rate on your credit cards, when should you consolidate your student loans, when does it mathematically make sense to refinance your mortgage, and Mint figures all that stuff out for you.
I know it sounds weird, but the food that I eat, it doesn't make a big difference, and it never has. So, I've saved a ton of money not buying a lot of alcohol, not going out to restaurants too much. So, I think it's part of our culture, and it's part of a social activity more than anything else.
The start-up life kept me busy and surfaced the problem of not being able to stay on top of my personal finances, which led me to invent Mint.com. I was working 80-hour weeks, and had done enough preliminary work and research to know I had a big idea: To make money management effortless and automated.