If your product relies on user data, there are two keys to winning

Edited excerpt (with italics added) from Why Wesabe Lost to Mint by Marc Hedlund:

A number of people have asked and speculated about why Mint won and Wesabe lost. Mint used Yodlee [a third party data aggregator] to automatically get user’s data from bank sites and import them into Mint, and as a result had a much easier user experience getting users’ data imported. Wesabe built our own data acquisition system, but it didn’t launch until six months after Mint went live, and even then didn’t really work for some time after. That one mistake was probably enough to kill Wesabe alone.

Second, Mint focused on making the user do almost no work at all, by automatically editing and categorizing their data, reducing the number of fields in their signup form, and giving them immediate gratification as soon as they possibly could; we completely sucked at all of that. I was focused on trying to make the usability of editing data as easy and functional as it could be; Mint was focused on making it so you never had to do that at all. Their approach completely kicked our approach’s ass.

Between the worse data aggregation [=import] method and the much higher amount of work Wesabe made you do, it was far easier to have a good experience on Mint, and that good experience came far more quickly. Not being dependent on a single source provider, preserving users’ privacy, helping users actually make positive change in their financial lives – all of those things are great, rational reasons to pursue what we pursued. But none of them matter if the product is harder to use.

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