Aaron Patzer Quotes

Aaron Patzer is an internet entrepreneur and the founder of Mint.com, the financial management tool which was acquired by Intuit and has over 10 million users

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Aaron Patzer


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.

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The original idea before Mint was a life and goal planning system I called Carpe Viva. The idea was that all of life's goals, from buying a house, getting an MBA, or learning Spanish could be quantified in both time and money.

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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.

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I have always thought of myself as an inventor first and foremost. An engineer. An entrepreneur. In that order. I never thought of myself as an employee. But my first jobs as an adult were as an employee: at IBM, and then at my first start-up.

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I've been spending quite a bit of time in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the U.K. as Mint is expanding globally, and I'm personally doing much of the research and business deals to make them happen.

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The other big factor in building trust quickly is site design quality. Mint.com has one of the best graphic designers ever (Jason Putorti) - he cares about every pixel, all the fonts, all the transparencies and effects. And that shows instantly. People do make judgments of trust on appearance - in the real world and online.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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At 16, I started a web development business and had clients from the Netherlands, Caribbean, and across the country - none of whom knew my age because I could conduct all my business with a phone, scanner, and the Internet.

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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.

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Because Mint has access to all of your bank accounts and credit cards, we can detect fraud or unusual spending patterns faster than your bank, then send an email or text message alert to users.

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If you look on Amazon - if you do a search for personal finance, there are literally 20,000 books written on personal finance, and there's no real reason for it. I mean, personal finance is pretty simple.

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Whenever I see a tree that is climbable, it must be climbed. Sometimes when I'm on a run, I'll just run up a tree, jump on a branch and swing off. My favorite tree, in Saratoga, gets me a good 75 feet up.

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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.

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