"Lesson learned: People care about the narrative behind your product, so don't be afraid to tell your story!"
As someone who finds new things on HN all the time, I always check the "about" page, especially if it's something that isn't free. I'm surprised at how often the "About Us" isn't actually "About Anyone", there's no names, it's all just "Us" and "We".
That's something I often get instructed to use when doing freelance writing. It is considered "professional" and "corporate speak."
The other thing is that women and minorities sometimes intentionally hide or downplay their personal details. One guy with a very "foreign" sounding name legally changed his name to something normal WASPy sounding because it was a barrier to doing business. I have seen at least one article on the front page of HN where a woman founder was being sexually harassed and generally treated terribly by clients when doing support chats. She changed her picture and her name to make it appear you were dealing with a man and that largely stopped.
I'm a woman and I've had to deal a lot with awful behavior from people, much of which is pretty clearly rooted in misogyny, basically. I'm still not sure what the best path forward is for me.
One part of me is clear that hiding or downplaying my gender to try to be successful just reinforces sexism. Another part of me has to wonder if that's a hill I really want to die on or would I rather be able to, you know, eat more regularly and what not.
Would you to have quick look at https://greenleaves.io/about/? Because the last two weeks told me that I might be overthinking a couple of things...
Then sit down and "tell your story" in writing as if you were telling it over beers at a pub to a few new-ish friends who don't all equally well know your backstory. Get someone to read through it before publishing it. Good feedback is very helpful. Also, grammar check, spell check, etc.
You want to be somewhat entertaining, but more importantly you want to capture as succinctly and compellingly as possible why you are uniquely/especially qualified to offer a new and better solution to an old and tired problem space, basically.
There's also a movie clip I like and I've written about why elsewhere, so let me link you to that write up:
I actually suck at the doing business thing or I would no doubt have some brilliant tie-in here to "And if you have trouble with that, you can hire me..blah blah blah." This is why I still work for a writing service. And I blog.
I don't know how to do this networking thing or whatever, but I do know something about writing and about doing stuff on a budget.
Writing concisely is a virtue, but getting in all the details often matters more. It's fine if the first draft is wordy. If you can reach a point where it tells the story well and is also concise, you probably have something "worth its weight in gold."
It can take a lot of time to get there. Good writing can take a lot of time. This is often not at all obvious.
What I would suggest is to add your personalities and some interesting details to it. Something like “Fred started out as an intern at a lightbulb factory and soon realized he loved making things more efficient.”
If you get enough positive attention and money out of it, putting up with some icky stuff can be worth it. But women frequently are facing a situation where it's far more downside than up in the early stages in a way that makes it actively difficult to even get traction.
I've spent a lot of years trying to come up with constructive mental models to help me more effectively navigate such things. I think it's problematic to frame it in strictly gendered terms. Among other things, this tends to make women feel like it's hopeless and can't be fixed.
I think women get raised to have private lives. Men get raised to have public lives. This ends up being self reinforcing.
I lived an extremely private life. I was a homemaker for a long time. Learning to effectively interact with the public has been a long, uphill slog.
It's perhaps been something of a gift that it's been so hard. The extremes of it have likely helped make some things apparent to me that may get overlooked by others due to being too subtle.
I think it's not obvious to women that men share less of such info "in public" because they often share such info with women, even women they barely know. I am often appalled at the degree to which total strangers overshare with me and just immediately trust me with info I really shouldn't be getting.
It took me an overly long time to conclude this is actually a behavior that's extremely problematic to be on the receiving end of. It helps keep women trapped in a private role (which people expect them to play for free) and helps keep them out of a public role (ie a role you would pay them money for).
In essence, people want me to be a shoulder to cry on and it actively prevents me from being taken seriously. They want me to play a wife or mom role and they expect to get that from me completely for free. I'm supposed to care out of the goodness of my heart.
It doesn't open doors for me to be trustworthy in that fashion. It closes them. It's an expectation of slave labor and it's nothing short of abusive treatment, especially when you consider I was also treated this way while literally homeless and going hungry.
That assumption that moms care for "free" is really an assumption that her husband makes good money and is providing for her.
If you aren't paying my bills or otherwise taking care of me in some kind of meaningful fashion, expecting me to "care" about you while you don't give a damn about my welfare and won't help me establish an adequate income is just shitty behavior.
And it's rampant. It's pretty much everywhere and from almost everyone. It's appalling.
Anyway, I've gotten better about figuring out how and where to draw that line (between public and private) and it's made life suck less. Onward and upward and all that.
Edit: It's late. I'm tired. I really meant to also make the point that women being deterred by ugliness on the internet is often a genuine safety concern and not them simply being thin skinned.
This is a real problem for women you that don't typically see for men.
LOL. No, I wouldn't be surprised. I'm well acquainted with the phenomenon.
The only people I see activity holding back women is other women.
This framing may be on the mark, but my observation has been that the primary way men are a problem is that men mostly don't want to engage a woman too much if they aren't looking for a sexual relationship and this is a huge barrier to networking, getting referrals, etc. I don't think most men are intentionally, actively and on purpose trying to keep women out, but it's a big, big problem that they don't want to talk too much to a woman for fear that it might lead to an affair or a really terrible misunderstanding or gossip.
For serious business people, a good reputation is worth a lot of money, so I think a lot of businessmen don't want to take the risk of talking overly much to a woman for fear of pointlessly sullying their reputation. In most cases, they don't strictly need to network with women to further their career, so it's just not worth the risk involved to them most of the time.
I just don't understand it.
I think I do, at least to some degree, but this is not really the time or place for me to natter on about it.
It's bewildering how everybody knows there are these tremendous informal barriers, that have withstood all past attempts at equal rights, and yet everybody also knows that women have better social skills and emotional intelligence than men.
One thing that jumps out at me is you seem to be saying what holds women back is that men don't trust them. This is a very interesting point.
I have, and have had, a very negative reaction to anyone demanding trust beyond what feels right to me. The "golden rule" is central to most people's value systems, I think, and it is completely unimaginable to me that I could or should be able to demand trust as an entitlement.
However, I think your expectation of trust from men is normal, or at least common, based on my personal relationships. I do think that you might consider that not trusting women can and does have significant negatives for men too.
I don't disbelieve in your description of issues people have, but explanations I read - yours or others - tend to sound circular to me and not really explain why things are the way they are.
Throwaway for obvious reasons.
As a man, I’m rather skeptical about trusting women in business. I will never have a one-on-one meeting with a woman (especially somebody under my management), and I will especially never interact with with woman I work with outside of the office. I will generally try to keep discussions with women in the office strictly about business and professional. I am incredibly cautious about mentoring a woman.
The risk of being accused of something untoward is just not worth taking. There’s little risk of my male colleagues taking some extreme level of offence at banter or any of the other normal interactions of friendship. None of my male colleagues are going to file a complaint against me just to spite me, or to further their career objectives. However this is a non-trivial risk with women. I know women who openly talk about having done this, and I know men who it has happened to. I don’t like it, but that’s simply the reality of the current political climate.
I don’t share this feeling, but then, I may live to regret it. It only takes one bad actor.
Are you really so unable to determine appropriate behaviours that you think women are making extreme overreactions to normal “banter”? Or that the risk of a false/inflated accusation is so high that you think freezing out all women is a reasonable and rational approach?
Women finally begin talking publicly about the endemic sexism they face, which many men just don’t see, and your conclusion from that is that women can’t be trusted.
I mean, sure, some woman might maliciously make some accusation against you. That’s certainly possible. It’s also possible that a man makes a false bullying accusation. Or accuses you of sexual advances. There are malicious people everywhere and gender doesn’t really come into it.
> I mean, sure, some woman might maliciously make some accusation against you. That’s certainly possible. It’s also possible that a man makes a false bullying accusation.
It sure is. But if I catch the ire of a malicious man at work, it’s much more likely to just amount to the regular office politics nonsense. Even if a man were to make a more outrageous accusation against me, I’d expect to be treated to some reasonable form of due process. With the same accusation from I woman, I absolutely would not have such an expectation. I would also expect that such an accusation could follow me around for perhaps the rest of my life.
Now, I’ve worked with some very talented women, and I’ve done what I can to support them. But sadly I don’t feel as though I can do as much as I would like. You’re free to criticize me for that, but from my perspective it’s a perfectly rational risk avoidance strategy. It’s motivated by cultural factors that are entirely beyond my control, and it’s a perspective that I would guess is shared to some extent by a non-trivial amount of people.
I don't know how to constructively engage your points, but I appreciate that you posted.
Given how rampant this issue seems to be, I'm somewhat appalled that there isn't a more supportive response to the comment. It suggests an awful lot of men think they absolutely don't do this when observation suggests to me that it is more or less the norm.
TLDR: Establishing trust is always a long, involved process, no matter who the parties are. But it's just much, much clearer that it's platonic and for purposes of doing business when it's two (apparently) heterosexual males. The waters get muddy really quickly when it's a heterosexual man and a heterosexual woman.
One thing that jumps out at me is you seem to be saying what holds women back is that men don't trust them.
I would say that women end up under pressure to meet a higher bar for trust than men typically face. If men had to meet the same bar, they would fail more consistently as well.
Do you think that being trusted or not trusted has a predictable effect on whether a person is trustworthy?
The relationship between trust and a character trait of trustworthiness is not necessarily straight forward. If people think you simply aren't in a strong position to hurt them, they expect less of you.
Women are often in a position to inadvertently harm a man without meaning to do so. Important men often want no appearance of impropriety. This makes it unclear how a woman can even establish a trusting relationship to a man.
Sometimes, husband-and-wife teams work as an effective in for the woman. Her relationship to him helps establish intent for everyone. It helps prevent muddy Waters in that regard.
If a meeting over coffee reads as a date if it's mixed gender, it may not matter how trustworthy she is. It may only matter that he doesn't want there to be talk, so he won't meet with her.
I attended GIS school in my late thirties. It's a two-thirds make field. I have a strong math background and argued with one of my professors that his math on the board was wrong.
He said "I bet you lunch." right before realizing I was right and saying "I feel a lunch coming on."
He was probably around 50 years old. He didn't really want to be seen buying lunch for a relatively pretty, young female student. After class, he quietly thanked me for standing my ground and correcting him and he slipped me a twenty dollar bill to cover lunch.
If I had been male and we had actually gone to lunch together, this would have been an incredible networking opportunity. But we never did have lunch together because he didn't want any appearance of impropriety, even though he respected my mind and appreciated my class contribution. It wasn't enough to overcome the question of "What will other people think?"
Of course, that story and conclusion involves a lot of inference and assumption on my part. Maybe he would have slipped a twenty to male student as well and not actually eaten lunch with them.
And that's part of what makes it so intractable. If I accused him if excluding me based on my gender, it would only deepen the rift, not bridge it and I can't actually prove it's a gendered thing, which makes women look histrionic when they complain about things like that.
And, yet, we continue to be subtly shut out. And I think this is a major way in which doors just never open for us.
If you can't even have coffee in public with someone for fear of what others will think, how on Earth do you even begin to network and get known well enough to establish a name, get referrals for work, etc?
When I went back to try to complete my degree in my late 20s, I thought I needed to find an internship if possible, and I went to the office of whatever they called it, and asked for suggestions on where to start. The guy responded that (as I was a transfer student that hadn't been there for long) he didn't know me and couldn't recommend me. I was taken aback and said of course I wasn't asking for a personal recommendation from him, just general hints or advice on what to do.
After that, I applied to be a volunteer at a local hospital, which made me jump through a lot of hoops just to work for them for free. I did things like putting educational material in binders and assembling nametags until I graduated, and created a resume based on that and my one-day-at-a-time assignments at a temp agency. And it got me my first corporate IT job a month or two before graduation - they let me work part time until then.
So, I wasn't sure where I was going with this (other than comparing my experiences) until I finished, but it seems like a pattern that when I've gotten a cold shoulder from men, I've gotten a break from women. Every time I've really needed to get back on my feet employment wise, I've volunteered to prove I was able to cope with a job, and at a place that was disproportionately women. And after years of being underpaid, a woman offered me close to a market rate salary (although I have reason to think she may have considered it a mistake).
If you feel you've always been disadvantaged by how men treat you, I hear you implicitly saying women can't substitute in your platonic relationships.
There are tons of aggregate statistics out there about how men generally make more money, disproportionately take up top positions in corporations, etc. Iirc, only 17% of people in the C suite are female. Less than 5 percent of S&P 500 have a female CEO.
So when you turn it into a personal question, no doubt trying to be sincerely helpful, that kind of implies it's some kind of personal problem and I must be doing something wrong. It inadvertently implies it's not really a societal level issue.
And I think people generally tend to do that to women and women -- including me -- tend to go along with that and reply in kind and it leads to women giving out an excess of personal information and feeling like they are being treated dismissively, etc. It also quickly gets into muddy water territory where it isn't clear what kind of relationship this is supposed to be.
And that's where that private-public framing is helpful to me personally. It helps me to remember that most people aren't behaving with malice aforethought and aren't trying to force me into a particular role. They just respond to a combined set of social signals in a way that seems appropriate at the moment without connecting it to the larger context and it just happens to keep those patterns alive that invisibly exclude women from money and power to a large degree.
Declining to post that first draft I tend to write that actually answers all those personal questions and, instead, turn the discussion back to "the issues" and aggregate data has been helpful for me.
Maybe someday those larger patterns will change. In the mean time, having a tool for figuring out where things went wrong without screaming about sexism on an overwhelmingly male forum has been better than not having it.
Since you shared a meaningful experience with me/the world, I responded in kind, because to me, my experience is also essential truth.
However, I'm not sure that I was trying to be "sincerely helpful" to you. That's not how I would automatically think of it when I respond to some random non-gendered username on the internet.
...I also don't think asking if you were in an undergraduate program is such a personal question.
I wrote out this long reply answering all of your questions and felt weird about it and wondered why and didn't post it. Then I decided to try to use this as an example of exactly what I'm talking about.
Thank you for talking with me. I'm running a fever today, so I no doubt could have said something better than I did.
In fact, I'm mixing up two discussions, because I talked about the private-public divide to someone else. So I apologize for the disconnect there.
Other discussion where I talked about that:
It is a self-reinforcing nightmare because it sets women up to assume that if a man is taking a strong interest in her, there is only one reason he could be talking with her. If she then reacts with flirtatious behavior or trying to make sure he understands whether or not she is romantically interested, etc, this can drive off men who would like to make a business connection and don't need some woman threatening their marriage, etc.
I tend to assume that a lot of times this is because "We" is a lie, it's "Me" and they want to avoid revealing that it's someone's side project.
I could be completely wrong. I am a lot.
Or if it’s a small group of co-founders and they don’t want to paint a target on their back, and have their employers suing for the IP they created on weekends and evenings.
It doesn't seem like there's been any association between him and the company Fox. In fact it doesn't even seem like there's any association between him and Michael J. Fox.
My personal advice would be to brand around the imagery of a remote controlled fox and not bring up other things with the same name. The comparisons will happen but if you don't call attention to them I'd bet it happens less than you imagine.
It is nice to see when it comes from an obvious solo-developer, but mostly these things are sanitized and improved over time.
But the whole story would include the number of users that they have now.
IMO getting to that first $1K is harder than getting from $1K to $10K. Most first timers never make it to $1K at all.
I have other products in the pipeline where I will consider a subscription model.
But as a maker, recurring (read: predictable, continuous) revenue makes a software business easier to sustain and gives incentive to grow.
I suppose subscription model makes more sense for apps that basically reside online or at least interact with a web server.
How you make lots of small products solving a single problem well is cool though! I could see some of these kinds of concepts evolving into a decent subscription business.
The app is a delight compared to Mint. The interface is simple, fast and snappy. You never get an annoying "Refreshing your accounts" notice every time you login. I've come across far fewer connection issues compared to Mint (~everyday).
There is a host of nifty features I never knew I wanted: custom rules; recurring expenses; split transaction; grey/green checkmark for unreviewed/reviewed transactions.
Jen (the founder) is also very responsive to feedback. It feels great to have your bug report addressed and fixed in a couple days. Keep up the excellent work!
The plan was to build product until around May / June, simply because I wanted a little bit more sophistication than spreadsheets ( these would do the job, by the way). A chance encounter with a potential customer ended with me sending an offer after his most important question was "are your transports insured". Pretty much looks like my MVP is much more M than I assumed!
Nope. Might want to fix that.
People forget that the person on the other side of the keyboard is a human. :(
Reminds me a little of being very young, at school, and learning to deal with other kids taking shots to look for a weakness - effectively early mild bullying. Then, again, the rule was stay positive and don’t show them you’re upset, or else they’ve found their weakness... and it will get worse.
There is this fundamental disconnect between wanting to save yourself some money - but not realizing that you are setting yourself up for immense risks. You can lose far-far more by signing up to a site like this than what it could ever possibly benefit you.
The same applies to the founder as well - it is all fun to reach 1k MRR - but are you prepared to shoulder the responsibility that comes with managing people's login accounts and finance records? It is a massive risk.
Someone that forgets to set the development flag on their production service should not be in charge of accessing bank accounts.
This is no different than giving out legal or medical advice on the internet. Most people don't understand what they are getting into.
Still a security risk, but I don’t think the dev is the risk.
The issue here is the banks: until they change, the status quo here is stupid - you, the user of mint/lunchbag/etc, have to trust an agent with your password.
How do I convince Bank Of America that it's worth their time to work on giving 3rd parties API access to my account?
One of the last things you do before launch is pay money to yourself by running a real payment with real money in production. An automated test for config is nice, but nothing beats actually doing the critical thing yourself before launching to the world.
You picked an odd time to stop reading!
Thanks for reading!
Feel free to let me know if you run into anything during your trial!
The company is definitely real, but anyone with at least a few hundred bucks can incorporate. Building trust is a non-trivial thing, and I try to do that by putting my name and reputation behind the product and blogging transparently about the journey.
Really wish Plaid showed what APIs were being authorized in the flow...
But I will probably re-evaluate in 11 months when my YNAB expires.
Onboarding with the kind of products may take longer than the author realises. People like my self will need reminders that this product exists. It took years of YNAB ads for me to switch from HLedger and that really only happened because I needed something my wife could use after I got married and we merged finances.
IMO, onboarding with YNAB specifically would take longer than most other budgeting apps, since on top of getting used to the interface, you also need to get used to their very specific method of budgeting. With Lunch Money, I've heard from users coming from YNAB that it's easier to get set up likely because we've approached organizing transactions and budgeting in a more pragmatic and flexible way.
Love to hear what you think when/if you ever decide to join Lunch Money!
Here's the basic manifesto of the SpendWeek framework in case anyone's interested: https://www.spendweek.com/blog/you-need-a-different-budget/
My approach won't appeal to a lot of folks, but there are dozens of us who find it super useful: https://www.spendlight.com/#how-it-works
We're on the same page regarding privacy. Except for taking money for the subscription, I keep my hands off bank accounts. And for those wanting a complete air gap, there's always the printable paper version:
In other words, the budget would get "broken" more often in the week-to-week habits than the monthly ones... hence, the resulting focus of my tool.
A promise we make from the beginning is we're definitely not ever going to be selling any of your data. We don't have an incentive to since we're selling the service directly to the user as a subscription.
I think I will also start working on something like this on the side that encapsulates my budgeting knowledge. Should be a fun project. Thanks for posting and good luck.
But then again I don't trust Plaid and avoid them at all costs.
Pasting from an earlier comment:
> Totally understandable that you'd like to avoid using services like Plaid. We have a lot of users who share the same sentiment, and also many international users who cannot use Plaid, so it's a priority to ensure the experience is without Plaid is still an enjoyable/practical one.
> We offer two other ways to bulk insert transactions: 1. we offer a CSV import tool, and 2. we are currently beta-testing our developer API so you could write your own integrations to import data
Is there a better way? Or a service that would let me enter credentials if I want to update data? Rather than storing them and updating automatically...
Without Plaid, you only have three options: connect to bank yourself with OFX, let user upload OFX file, or let user upload CSV.
OFX stands for Open Financial Exchange, an open standard to programmatically access and transmit financial data - which is basically Plaid, but provided by the banks themselves, which as you can imagine is 1000x worse than Plaid.
Connecting to bank using OFX is really annoying. First, if you want to do it without storing the user's credential, you need to run the app in the user's computer, so forget about auto update in the background. Second, I don't know a single bank that publishes their OFX connection parameters, so people rely on crowdsourced data, which is iffy at best and totally unreliable at worst. Finally, OFX is a disastrous format to parse. It uses SGML (!!!) and require DTD to parse correctly (!!!!). Furthermore, banks' implementation are, as you can imagine, widely inconsistent. For example, each transaction is supposed to have a unique identifier. However, HSBC decided to reuse them, so you can't completely rely on it to dedupe your input.
To be fair, OFX has improved, and the latest revision abandoned SGML in favor of XML and introduced OAuth for authentication. But few bank support them, and among those that do, the API is still not public, so you probably need to talk to the bank's BD people to use them. For example, Chase says "Access to the Developer Ecosystem is currently by invitation only and limited to developers and businesses that have a relationship with Chase."
Most banks support downloading OFX file yourself, so you can just let user upload them manually. This is obviously a huge hassle for the users, and you have the same problem with parsing OFX format.
For the rare cases where OFX is not available, you can count on CSV. However, since there's no standard, you can't automate the import, and must require user input to annotate the columns, which further increase user friction.
In conclusion, in today's landscape, Plaid is a necessary evil if you want to have a seamless user experience. Anything that preserves user privacy will result in a 10x worse UX.
I have read in some places that you can get OFX access as an individual if you call the right customer service dept.
We offer two other ways to bulk insert transactions:
1. we offer a CSV import tool, and
2. we are currently beta-testing our developer API (so you could write your own integration with Chase)
Most of the features enabled by making an app are ones users are tired of: push notifications, mic/camera access, etc.
It's definitely punted for now as I continue to round out the product. When the time comes and we're ready for an official mobile offering, we'll evaluate the current solutions out there (the landscape is always changing!)
If you do reach that point, I hope you share the factors contributing to your decision.