The Janitor

by Zach Bruhnke

Ruby Dev/habitual founder & YC Alum currently putting my own dent in the universe at Spout

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Banks are broken

My name is Zach Bruhnke, I’m currently working on Spout and this is my case for why the next big retail bank shouldn’t look (or start as) a bank at all.

I read that Simple was acquired this morning and my first thought was that I was happy for the team because I knew it had been a long fight already for them, they’re probably tired. And in all likelihood they got more than they bargained for when they set out to build Simple. Having a partner like BBVA will make their road ahead … well, Simpler.

Then I read Zac Townsend’s post and what really got my wheels turning is that so many people are looking for a better retail bank when what they should be looking for is a better data company.

A better trust mechanism for consumers and a better way forward for future generations.

Banks are broken.

The fundamental problem with banking is that it hasn’t changed or reshaped in centuries,...

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Trolling patent trolls: A proposal

I was reading Jason Freedman’s latest blog post the other day about how to handle patent trolls (he was calling for patent troll insurance.)

I should probably start this off with a blatant DISCLAIMER: I am NOT and attorney and this does NOT constitute legal advice, this is simply my out of the box thinking on a way to game the patent trolls current system. I’ve spent a fair amount of time around court rooms and understand enough about business to be dangerous.

This post started off as what I thought would be a comment on Hacker News but since I was in Big Sur for the weekend my phone would not let me post it and I spent the weekend thinking about this particular subject along with some of my own thoughts for my latest startup.

Here’s what I think more technology companies should consider doing in order to effectively “troll” the patent trolls.

There are some simple, but intricate...

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Long Odds, High Hopes, and “Crazy Ones”

One week ago yesterday the scariest decision I have made in a short life full of bold and brazen life-changing decisions was officially final.

My Co-founder Holden and I had moved across the country from Louisiana to Santa Monica. We officially had no “normal” jobs. We are now employees of a company that had been created less than a month ago. But being one of the “Crazy Ones” is something I always knew I was, even from an early age.

Most of my childhood was spent listening to my Dad talk about the business he wanted to start. He had an idea, he had the means, heck he even had a name (KBZ Enterprises – The initials of his children in order of age, I’m the youngest of the three so it stood for Karlie, Ben and Zach).

But the one thing I didn’t watch was my Dad actually starting that business.

By the time I left high school I knew that starting a business was nothing my future...

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Love what you build - Because sometimes you will still hate it.

Lately I’ve thought a lot about being in the right mindset to start a new company. Today I’m going to reflect a little of what I’ve come to find about starting and building new companies.

The most interesting point that keeps coming to mind is inherently very simple.

Love what you build, because no matter what, sometimes you will still hate it.

As simple as that principle seems, so many entrepreneurs young and old completely disregard this notion.

There are people reading this post who are already about to hit the back button and go back to Hacker News or Twitter and find the next article because they disagree with the premise, but for those of you who stay I hope you can take some things away with you.

I’m not saying that no one person can become successful if they don’t love what they do, however I think its a hell of a lot harder if you’re just looking for an out from day one.

...

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So you wanna be a Founder?

Quite a bit of my time lately has been tied up chatting with companies in all stages.

Some are barely into the idea phase, others have just started to raise seed or friends and family rounds and others have been drudging through the grueling M&A process.

Through all of it there’s not a solitary reminder of the path I’ve chosen in life, but each of the founders I have worked with lately remind me of just a few things I think all of you out there who think you WANT to be founders should consider.

I’m using this post to compile a list of tips, tricks and thoughts for you all to consider before making the leap.

Spend twice as much time talking to users as you spend thinking about what they want - This seems obvious, but there is seriously no need to wonder what users want when people out there are more than willing to listen and give feedback in most circumstances.

Pivots are hard,...

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Blinded: A founder’s prospective

Recently I was reading Double Tap, Danielle Morril’s most recent post in an ongoing series of them since she quit working on Referly, and one thing really stuck out to me.

Several months back I remembered an exchange between Danielle and another HN user. Interestingly, this HN user was suggesting the system could be gamed at Referly and what I remember even more vividly was Danielle’s response.

“If people can successfully "game” Referly we’d probably try to hire them.“

Just a short, simple and matter of fact response from a founder who seemingly had it all figured out. At the time it probably seemed like some troll on HN just trying to do as Trolls do.

In hindsight it was probably a business minded HN user either speaking from experience or having given it at least some thought before writing it.

So why is it that Founders put blinders on when they’re thinking about their own...

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