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Hot 20 2010: Aaron Patzer: Founder of Mint.com

Photography by Cody Pickens

Aaron Patzer, 29
Founder, Mint.com

To become the man he is today, Aaron Patzer gave up seven months of his golden 20s to lock himself in a room and write code. At the tender age of 24—frustrated with the multistep process of the popular financial-planning program Quicken—he decided budgeting didn’t have to be such a burden. Three years later, Patzer launched his solution: Mint.com, a website that keeps track of financial transactions, no manual input required.

Millions of users caught on—as did Mint’s undisputedly bested competitor, Intuit (which owns Quicken). All’s well that ends well: Last year, Intuit bought Mint for $170 million.

“The Bay Area was the mecca [for high tech],” Patzer recalls. “Like an actor goes to New York or LA, you have to come here if you’re an engineer. You daydream about it.”

Creating websites for businesses in Evansville, Ind., Patzer at the age of 16, was already well on his way. By 19, he was spending interim time in the promised land—otherwise known as Twin Peaks—working for an online jewelry store startup. Meanwhile, he attended Duke and then Princeton. These days, he rents an apartment in Palo Alto.

Of course, there are some things that only San Francisco proper can provide: Salsa lessons at Dance Mission Theater on 24th Street, for one, Bay to Breakers, for another. Perhaps in reaction to his ultra-straightlaced East Coast college years (“I probably went to two parties in total,” he says), he describes the 12K race thusly: “A moving, drunken Halloween party/mosh pit that includes frequent public urination—it’s really much more fun than you’d imagine.”