The Origin Story of Budgets

Blog Feb 21, 2020


Jake and Jackie met in September of 2015 and fell in love. Oh, wait… that sounds more like my marriage story. First, let’s go back a little further to when Derek and I met.

The Budgets Team at a ChooseFI Christmas party

We were both students at the great University of Texas A&M, which had a fairly new entrepreneurial program at the time in 2013. I have always enjoyed various aspects of business and the thrill that could come from creating something, so naturally, I found myself at the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship pretty often.

One weekend they were putting on a program called 3-Day Startup, which took the entire lean startup methodology and had teams of students practice it with business ideas they came up with during the weekend. At the close of the weekend, the student teams pitched their business ideas with their prototypes to a panel of investors. Very rarely does a startup succeed in a weekend, but it was a fun environment to meet many talented and creative colleagues.

Since I had participated in 3-Day Startup the previous year, I was now there as a peer coach to help teams with their processes throughout the weekend. Being inspired by having so many awesome and diversely skilled people around, I found myself reaching out to several of them to see if they wanted to continue meeting after the weekend. For a while, we had 10 people coming, but soon it dwindled to just four as schoolwork started to take priority again. Derek was among those four.

The NeteGreek team wrapping gifts for a Christmas toy drive

One of the four was a leader in her sorority and had a great idea for an app that would help them with various aspects of running their chapter. We formed a company, complete with an LLC and a legal trademark for the name NeteGreek. Derek and I spent the next year together learning and building. We built just about every feature we could think of adding to this app, which was quite a lot since there were a lot of ideas for ways to help keep Greek life sororities and fraternities organized. After spending a summer living with my parents and getting the app to a place where we felt like it could be used, we went back to school optimistic about sharing our hard work with the organizations.

screenshot of the Netegreek app

I don’t think our other two teammates realized how hard we had been working all summer, and unfortunately, they didn’t seem as committed anymore. Derek and I had to switch modes from hanging out by ourselves all summer coding to figuring out how to get what we built in front of people — people we didn’t even know how to communicate with very well. We tried going to a few parties but quickly realized that wasn’t our scene and we needed to figure out what was next in our lives.

Having enjoyed the summer and with such a good experience building something together, we both found ourselves with developer jobs in Austin. We focused on building our careers and our community of friends, but always held onto a little bit of that entrepreneurial spirit.

It’s hard to believe that was from 2013 to 2015 — oh and brings us back to the same year that I met my beautiful wife Jackie. Jackie and I didn’t take too long before we knew we were going to get married. But that also meant that a lot was going to change for me over the next year or so. At this point I was living as a bachelor with my dog and 2 best friends, sharing a relatively cheap apartment. All of us slept with our mattresses on the floor and we practically had nothing in our apartment except a couch and a TV.

Today, my wife and I own three properties, watch HGTV, and have a fully-furnished home. And our mattress is definitely not on the floor. Getting from point A to B wasn’t easy, but the journey started pretty early in our marriage. I knew I had a lot of work to do myself if we were going to figure out a system for combining our finances, so I began searching for a budgeting app that we could use together. I settled on one, but I refused to pay for it so I ended up entering every transaction manually. That process was so tedious, I figured I could just build something better. That’s how it all started — I just wanted to have a budgeting app that I enjoyed using.

Naively thinking it would be easy, I started coding again. I was also excited to have a project that I cared about again. Derek soon also learned the value of budgeting in his life and would join me again. We would learn along the way that budgeting is a lot more nuanced than I originally thought. There are so many different mindsets about money out there! Building an app might not be difficult, but building a budgeting app in a way that is intuitive for most people to use is definitely very difficult.

But days became months, and months became years. We added a third member to the team, Hannah, to assist us with our business and marketing-related tasks. On December 31st, 2018, we officially launched our app with a pretty epic New Year’s Eve party. Thankfully over the past year, we have had several users who have helped us learn a lot with how they use the app. Taking what we learned and utilizing the help of Marcus, a UX designer, we completely redesigned the app just 6 months after we launched.

Today, we are extremely proud of what we’ve built, this time, however, we’re ready to take on the challenge of finding customers. I’ve done what I set out to do, create a budgeting app that I enjoy using. So here we are, putting ourselves out there — writing blogs, creating podcasts, and turning this product into a business.

P.S. If you have any questions about our story, feel free to share in a comment! If you would like to get started budgeting, check out Budgets at https://budgets.money.

Jake Ruesink

Jake is a developer with a degree from Texas A&M in Business, Comm, and Creative Studies. His dream is to lead a company that builds community and provides a needed service for the glory of Jesus.

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