Bill Barnett of BudgetSketch

How did you start your business?
My journey into entrepreneurship began as I was searching for a web-based budgeting tool that matched my style of budgeting, called zero balance budgeting.

Zero balance budgeting simply means you write out a monthly budget in which the monthly income and expenses equal zero. I'm a software developer and when I couldn't find such a tool I decided to create a prototype.

I showed that prototype to a colleague, Dewayne Greenwood, and he convinced me that a business model could be built around my prototype.

How did you come up the idea for your business?
In the software development community we call ideas like BudgetSketch “scratching our own itch.” We throw something together to meet our own need and that's typically where the story ends unless we open source our solution or someone convinces us that there's a business opportunity around it, which was the case for me.

What resources here did you take advantage of and how did they help?
The primary local resource I've made use of is mentorship from a very active developer community.

I spent 17 years working for Delta Air Lines at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport before I earned my computer science degree at the University of Cincinnati. So, despite my age, I've come to rely on the talented young developers in our community to help me build BudgetSketch employing lean software development practices. Sadly, this method isn’t taught at many universities, but I feel it has been critical in BudgetSketch's survival.

I was also extremely fortunate that the first person I showed my prototype to was Dewayne Greenwood. Dewayne is very entrepreneurial and has a firm grasp of business.

We're just two local guys fighting to grow our business. The tools we haven't found here, we’ve created. I'm a co-founder of Cincinnati Coworks and the founder of the Cincinnati Lean Startup Circle. Dewayne and I are co-founders of Gaslight Software, too. We believe community plays a big role in the success of any business.

What does a typical day in your business look like?
Primarily I work out of Gaslight's office in Blue Ash. Mornings are spent reading and answering emails or reading about the lean startup movement.

Once things get going at Gaslight, I'm typically pair programming with one of my colleagues on a client's project. Lunch is usually spent in a meeting before it's back to coding.

Work on BudgetSketch is typically reserved for the evening hours unless there's a bug that requires immediate attention.

You'll find the little green icon next to my name in IM until the wee hours of the morning most days. Weekends are reserved for my wife and daughter, at least until 9 pm.

What’s next for you and your company?
We've inked a deal with a local business wanting to offer BudgetSketch as a value add for their customers. I can't say more until we're in production with their customers, so stay tuned for further developments around the end of this summer.

Interview by Robin Donovan