Meet the TechCrunch50 Winners

One of the first questions I got asked while manning the Mint booth at TC50 was, after having been named best presenter last year, what Mint hoped to gain from attending this year.

One answer comes in Mint’s ability to give back to the community by sending three budding internet entrepreneurs to the conference this year.

We ran a contest and awarded three passes to the users who either referred the most friends to Mint.com, wrote the best story about how Mint.com has helped him/her mange money, or proved themselves to be the biggest Mint.com fan.

I really enjoyed meeting all three of them in person so let me take a minute to introduce them to you.

Dan Hassenplug, from Chicago, Illinois is a marketing professional with a taste for social media and an interest in personal finance. After hearing about Mint.com when the news broke at last year’s TechCrunch, he decided to see if the service could help him integrate his finances. Dan was particularly drawn to the service’s attractive graphical user interface and handy SMS alerts and weekly email update. “The idea of using something like this to manage my finances was a no-brainer,” says Dan. “I decided right then that this was something I needed in my life.”

Dan, who has now acquired the moniker the MintFanatic™ created a website of the same name to share his love for his favorite online money management tool. Rejected names included “Send me to TechCrunch,” “MintyFresh,” and “I Love Mints.” By any name, his admittedly over-the-top efforts to win, which included daily video posts are a clear sign of his devotion to the service.

Robert Love, a graduate student at the University of Florida in aerospace engineering, took a more analytical approach, quantifying his experience using Mint.com in actual dollars saved ($1,000 in about 40 hours). “The main savings came not just from using Mint.com but from making lifestyle decisions based on what Mint.com was telling me to do,” he says.

Robert is taking an entrepreneur class this semester and is looking forward to learning more about the business side of startups at TechCrunch. “I’m really interested in the dynamics behind building a team and the process of working ideas through to implementation.

Ryan Merket is a Senior Designer at CBS Interactive in San Francisco specializing in social media and the creative brains behind a number of innovative startups including Ping.fm. Like Dan, Ryan heard about Mint’s win at last year’s TechCrunch and signed up immediately. As a designer himself, he was surprised to see how much he liked the design of the service. “It stood out 10 fold over the rest of the sites out there and it was amazing how quickly it pulled all of my information together,” he says.

In addition, Ryan is an advocate of the kind of cloud computing Mint espouses. “I’ve tried Microsoft Money and frankly, I don’t want to put my money on my laptop. Someone can rob you of your computer bag.”

Not being a writer, Ryan knew his best shot at winning was to leverage his extensive Gmail contact list. Good thing he did. After missing TechCrunch last year and failing to make the cut this year, he finally got to attend, thanks to Mint.