Tech's Best Young Entrepreneurs
Aaron Patzer, 27
Funding: $17.5 million from Benchmark Capital, Shasta Ventures, First Round Capital, and angels Ram Shriram, Ron Conway and former Intuit (INTU) executive Mark Goines
For six months, Patzer holed up alone in a room for 100 hours a week to write the code he hoped would result in a smarter alternative to Intuit's Quicken. Two years on, he's distributing the resulting product free through a startup named Mint.com, which has amassed more than 200,000 users—and is adding 10,000 new ones a week. Fans say it's easier to use and does a better job categorizing expenses and flagging problem spending than competing software from Intuit and Microsoft (MSFT). "Quicken and [Microsoft's] Money are for bookkeeping enthusiasts," Patzer says. In March, he raised $12 million, led by Benchmark, to help bring Mint's message of simplicity to the masses.
Advice: "Recessions are great because they unlock the best people," Patzer says. "If you're well capitalized and can survive through the recession, it's the best time to grow. You'll have more access to more talent at a better price than you'll ever have."