I recently got accepted into the rather annoyingly exclusive Simple (www.simple.com) bank club (it took 11.5 months to get an invite), but so far, it’s been worth it. Even with all its lack of features, including no way to deposit cash or checks, it far outshines other banks in one particular regard: saving money with Goals.
Goals is a feature they recently added that allows a user to define a savings goal by an amount and/or day. For instance, if I wanted to save for a future vacation of $2000, I could set a date when I need the 2000 by. Simple will then remove a small amount per day from my “safe to spend” amount.
Dead simple, but brilliant for a few reasons:
- People typically have a savings and checking account and have to manually move money from one to the other. People tend to suck at anything manual.
- Even if a person is great at consistently pushing money into their savings, the accounts are separate, so even though the bank has your money, you can inadvertently go over in your checking and get charged an overdraft fee.
Simple isn’t moving your money at all, it’s simply telling you what you can and cannot spend. So, in case of an emergency, your money is still available and sitting in your checking account. The worst thing that will happen is that you’ll miss your intended target dates for your goals.
Originally I was concerned that I wouldn’t be getting the benefits of a savings interest, until I realized how low that interest is these days. Couple that with the fact that my last bank, Bank of America, would just randomly charge me monthly for my accounts (even after multiple in branch visits and apologies from staff) thus off-setting any interest gained anyways, I don’t mind.
I’ve recently been working on a nginx/Django/Gunicorn combo app and found out the hard way that gunicorn processes must be restarted for changes to appear if you are modifying app files.
kill -HUP masterpid
The first startup I worked for was in 2006, an idea called ModMyLife that involved hacking together way too many experimental technologies and more or less crazy up-and-coming actors into a sort of Stephensonian “Gargoyle”. It was one of the most entertaining shitshows ever, but it was litigious and costly; our burn rate was $75 an hour with no business model and we could only run the site two hours a day.
This was the pre-Lean era, when your idea was guarded and protected and every founder believed he was some shade of genius. You would build in secret and explode onto the scene. That’s what we did. And it tanked.
Now, it didn’t tank because we coded in stealth, but we could have figured it out sooner if we had released quickly (a Lean style MVP). The primary take away was that even though we thought our idea was genius and unique, it really didn’t matter. After the release, there wasn’t a flood of duplicates, even after a great TechCrunch write up and initial buzz.
Good products are built by two processes: good teams and fast iterations.
And that’s why your ideas are worthless. Everyone has great ideas. I have a notebook full of them. I wake up every day with a billion dollar idea. What prevents me from producing any of them is mostly a lack of time. Ideas are turned into products by solid teams with momentum, which in the startup world is simply the result of well paired skill sets. Developers, solid designers, great business connections, REAL skills and assets. If you simply come up with an idea and expect anything from it, you’re an idiot.
In a post-stealth world, idea people have even less value since most products tend to evolve rapidly. If it’s your idea at the start and 6 months later your team pivots to a point where your product has nothing to do with its previous incarnation, is the idea still even yours?
At ModMyLife, we believed the idea was so unique and ingenious that it inherently had value, but we were wrong. There were so many other factors involved: legal consequences, first to market jitters and growing pains, lack of a business model, burn rate, organizational nightmares and most importantly, our team.
The team is the product and the value is the talent pool. If you want to start a business, then learn something well enough that a team would suffer without you. Otherwise, you’re just a passive observer.
This is the quick and dirty portfolio site, mixed with general nerd/geek posts.
"Son of a bit!"