Today we interview Nick van den Berg who is the Co Founder/COO of a startup called Simply Wall St that was launched in May of 2014.
The purpose of Simply Wall St is to help first time investors get into the stock market. It does this through visualising data and presenting information in infographics, so users can understand what it actually all means and be able to make investment decisions. Simply Wall St lets you maximise your wealth creation by helping you make non-emotional long term investment decisions on high quality stocks.
Q: What problem are you trying to solve? How did you discover this problem?
A: Share investing is difficult, complex and scary for the majority of people. Ownership is on the decline and share investing is increasingly unpopular among young adults. The most daunting aspect first-time investors’ face is simply knowing where to start. There is so much conflicting advice out there, and even once they find a potential stock all that websites seem to show are complex tables and dense financial reports. There had to be a better way. Al and myself both experienced this problem when we started to learn to invest.
Q: How are you different from your closest competitor?
A: Our major difference with our competitors is that our app has been built from the ground up with the first time investor in mind. Many of our competitors have explored some visualising of data but as soon as you scratch the surface you go back to the traditional format of tables of data and excel spreadsheets. Ours truly can be used by someone that has no idea about the stock market (but wants to learn!)
Q: What’s the coolest thing your product/startup does?
A: The app can visualise any listed company in the world. Our current version works on the major exchanges in the US, UK and Australia. As a result every day calculations are run on 9000 companies and the associated infographics are created.
Q: What’s the biggest trend in your industry and what do you think will happen?
A: In general we are seeing the finance industry finally starting to embrace new technology actively. Success with personal finance apps such as Mint/Pocket Book show the power out what start-up companies can do with data. Personally I think we will continue to see development in this space of towards more user friendly, visual tools to take control of your finance and wealth.
Q: Where is your startup located? Why?
A: Our startup straddles both coasts of Australia. Myself and our lead developer are based in Perth, whilst Al and our mentors/advisers are over in Sydney.
As part of the original investment we are in AWI Ventures accelerator program for 6 months, as a result Al relocated there. With myself in Perth we are able to cover twice the territory in terms of relationships. Our final location will be dependent on where our next round of funding comes from.
Q: How did you meet your co-founders? Who are they and what do they do? How old are you all?
A: Like all great relationships online! I came across some posts Al had done on Angel List, simply flicked him an email and we caught up for a coffee soon after that. So our dear leader is Al Bentley, who is a trained naval architect that has experience in the oil and gas sector. Myself, Nick van den Berg, started in the banking world before moving into sales and marketing in the online and tech space. We are both 29.
Q: How many users do you have?
Q: Do you have revenue at this stage?
Q: Who is your target customer? What has their feedback been so far?
A: We have two distinct target markets. First time investors (with a focus on Gen Y) and confused existing investors (especially in the self directed space, ie those with their own SMSF).
Feedback has been extremely positive and useful. We already have users conducting live trades based of the information in the app.
Q: What is your biggest challenge at the moment, apart from the obvious?
A: Deciding on the priority of feature enhancements. Our users are already making great suggestions but in a world of limited resources we need to decided what to do, and what needs to be pushed back.
Q: What’s your plan for next six months? How do you plan on growing?
A: We have a number of milestones planned over the next 6 months. Firstly, we want to close our current fundraising round. With these funds we have a number of features we want to implement including a broker platform integration. Which will allow users to trade stocks within the app. Lastly our app will leave beta in November 2015, at which time we plan on monetising.
Q: Whats the next step for you and this startup?
A: We are currently in our next round of seed funding. Once secured, we have many planned feature to implement.
Q: Will you or did you raise money? What will you spend it on?
A: We raised seed capital from AWI Ventures, a Sydney based accelerator program. We are currently raising for a second round of seed funding, which will primarily be spent on development resources.
Q: Is this a full time startup, if not, how do you juggle a job and a startup?
A: Both Al and I work on this full time.
Q: Do you attend any startup related meetup groups, co-working spaces, courses or events?
A: Al attends a number of events in Sydney such as SydStart. I am based out of Spacecubed in Perth so often attend functions they run.
The precursor of Simply Wall St came out of a Startup Weekend in Perth Al went to.
We wish Nick and Al and Simply Wall St all the best for the future. Visit their site (http://www.simplywallst.co/) to learn more.