Startups: Don’t Do This

vickilynn by On Product Management Blog

Startup lessons from the founder of failed personal finance site

This On Product Management Blog post discusses an article by Marc Hedlund, founder of the defunct personal finance site failed while a similar site, succeeded and was purchased by Intuit after 2 years in business.

According to this review of Hedlund’s article,’s success was primarily due to “usability.”  A few “ease of use” failure points cited by Hedlund include:

  • did not provide an adequate automated way for customer’s to “collect and enter their financial data.”
  • made the process of sorting their financial data nearly effortless. Everything was automatically edited and categorized. was focused on making sorting easy, “while Mint was focused on making it so you never had to do that at all.”
  • sought to change people’s financial behavior for the better. Changing behavior is never easy and should not be your value proposition.

To learn more about the demise of and why “making users happy with your product as quickly as you can” is the key to start-up success, follow the link below.

  • Nobody should ever sell “change”, people are inherently afraid of change. Rather, focus on offering solution to a problem. I think this is where Mint was good, they offered a solution to budgeting horror.

  • And they made it easy. SaaS software, even business SaaS software has to make it easy and fun to do work. Support “flow”.

  • David

    Its so easy to fall into to the trap of developing something that you think is so cool, but will actually confuse or turn potential users away.
    We find it good practice to keep looking up and away from what we are doing and keeping check that hopefully we are building something that people will actually enjoy using.If you don’t enjoy using it yourself, alarm bells should be ringing.
    The line is very thin indeed between standing over something that users just take to in mass or completely ignore and leave you with an empty room. It is also not easy at all to achieve the former, and pretty easy to arrive at the later.Don’t know exactly why that is, but it just is .

  • “Changing behavior is never easy and should not be your value proposition.”
    I think that’s the main issue right there.  While disruptive technology does change how people use technology, if the new technology is too cumbersome or difficult to adapt to and make the most of, it won’t succeed, since people won’t be comfortable using it.