Our technology was all open source, and essentially all free: MySQL
at the bottom, Hibernate to avoid the need to hire a DBA, Tomcat on
Apache, Yahoo’s YUI served as the base for our AJAXy goodness.
We didn’t have money for a lawyer, but no fewer than three offered
to help us incorporate and accrue $25k in legal fees for a little bit
of the company. We shared office space in a type of incubator, renting
by the cube to avoid a long-term lease.
We didn’t have money for advertising, so we started a blog. We
didn’t have money for writers, so most of our original blog content
then was guest posts from other personal finance blogs, plus a couple
of columns on people’s worst financial disasters.
To build demand, we started asking for email addresses for our alpha
9 months in advance of launch. Then when we had too many people sign
up, we asked people to put a little badge that said “I want Mint” on
their blogs to get priority access. We got free advertising and 600
link backs which raised our SEO juice.