Following yesterday’s announcement that free personal finance site Mint has raised $12.1 million — and rumors that a number of venture firms were trying to get in on the deal — I talked to Mint investor Bob Kagle about what makes the company stand out.
After all, it’s a crowded and growing field, as we noted in our coverage. Kagle confirms that there were “a fair amount” of VCs that were “very interested” in investing in Mint. The company’s going to win the online personal finance crown because it’s so easy to use, he says.
Kagle is a general partner at Benchmark Capital, which led this second round of financing, and he’s also joining Mint’s board of directors. He says Mint is the first personal finance aggregator that he’s used, because setting up an account anywhere else was just too complicated. You only need to enter your account numbers and passwords to get started on Mint. Kagle says he now manages 16 accounts on the site, and recently spotted and emptied an account that wasn’t earning any interest at all.
(When we first covered Mint, we agreed that it was fastest to set-up of all the personal finance sites, including competitor Wesabe. But usability isn’t everything, says Wesabe chief executive Marc Hedlund. In the past, Wesabe has touted its social network tools. Hedlund adds that by automating everything through online banking provider Yodlee, Mint is sacrificing the flexibility and security that Wesabe’s homegrown solution can offer.)
Mint has acquired more than 160,000 users since launching last September, and it now organizes $10 billion worth of transactions, according to Mint’s numbers.
Although the site is free, the company makes money from a section where users can compare different deals, such as credit card financing offers. Knowing as much as possible about your audience, and therefore getting the most bang for your buck, is something of a Holy Grail among online advertisers. And as a “nexus” of financial data, Mint is going have access to some of the most important and relevant information about its users, Kagle says.
At 27, Mint chief executive Aaron Patzer may seem a little on the young side, Kagle acknowledges. But he points out that Patzer is surrounded by experienced executive team, including Chief Marketing Officer Donna Wells (formerly of Expedia and Intuit) and Product Vice President Aaron Forth (formerly of eBay).