In late February, we learned that Mint.com was up for a 2009 Thomas Edison Award in the category of Lifestyle and Social Change for the work we’ve done helping over 1 million users manage their finances and save money. We were up against some heavy hitters – the iTunes App Store and the Obama Online Team. On the way to the awards ceremony, I joked with the team it was like being up against penicillin and sliced bread – just no way to compete! As it turned out, Mint.com took second place, losing to the Obama Team. He’s the President so I guess I’m okay with that.
Still, what an honor. While I love being CEO of Mint, I consider myself, first and foremost, an inventor. And Edison with his 1,093 patents has always been a hero of mine. He recognized that it wasn’t just enough to invent something – you had to commercialize it. He didn’t just invent the light bulb; he invented the first electrical grid, distribution and measurement system to make light bulbs practical. Edison had a team of thousands, with factories built right next to his labs in Menlo Park, New Jersey.
Fast forward a hundred years to Mountain View, California, in Silicon Valley. We don’t talk about it much, but there’s serious technology behind Mint.com. We have a patent pending categorization system that’s 93% accurate. A patent pending system for matching financial products to people based on their actual spending habits, interest rates, and balances – then quantifying what they’d save. And we have two secret patents pending for a few things that we hope will blow you away when they’re rolled out.
So here’s my salute to all you inventors out there. It took me many years – a failed bioinformatics business built on my first patent (#6983274), hardware patents for IBM/Sony’s Cell microprocessor, patents for Nascentric (which folded last week) – before things really took off (fingers still crossed for Mint). But there’s nothing like the spirit of invention. It’s what moves the world forward.