When you hear of investing the majority of us just envisage Leonardo DiCaprio screaming his way around an office with a bunch of raucous ex-jocks swearing at potential clients down phones and raking in millions per day. In reality, investment is a much more calm and controlled reality but its still a foreign world to almost everyone in New Zealand who hasn’t been brought up with an extensive financial background. The founders of Sharesies, Brooke, Leighton and Sonya, were clever enough to see a huge gap in the market, and with their shared financial expertise and overall business knowledge they created the incredible platform we are discussing today. Sharesies is already developing a huge following and they have filled a niche that really promotes innovation, education and dedication.
Liam: What is Sharesies and how did you come up with the platform?
Brooke: Sharesies exists to make investing easy. It provides an accessible platform that removes the barriers that stand in the way of people investing today. It all came about when Sonya wanted to invest but didn’t know how or even where to get started, and after asking around she realised that most of her friends had no idea either and it was something that we talked about. The reality is most investment firms needed heaps of money to get started and use a language that is foreign to most who hear it.
For us it was a natural process going in this direction, Leighton started an investment club when he was only 17 with $50 per week and Brooke had a strong financial background that included running large portfolios and is passionate about democratising investing. Everyone naturally came together with the same goal in mind and from there we began looking into where the issue was with investment. We started with market validation to help us determine if this is a problem, and if so what is the best way to solve that problem.
After 300 customer interviews it became apparent the issue is real and over 75% of the people we interviewed had no idea where to go to invest. This is huge deal especially with the property market moving further and further out of reach for everyday kiwis.
L: How have you managed to develop the businesses exposure?
B: We’ve been a part of the Kiwibank Fintech Accelerator and have been able to share the Sharesies story through there, which has been paired with a consistent amount of blogging and spreading the word through social media. We’ve also been lucky to have some media exposure and all of these platforms combined have helped us grow to a following of 2500 in a month alone.
L: What are the biggest challenges in the industry that you’ve had to overcome?
B: Fintech is a highly regulated industry (which helps protect customers) so we’ve been working closely with the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) and the law firm ‘Minter Ellison Rudd Watts’ to make sure we have everything sorted.
L: What’s one massive lesson you’ve learnt along the way?
B: How willing people are to help, we’ve had so many advisors get stuck in and help us through sharing their expertise and opening their networks. This is the great thing about starting a business in NZ – people are so willing to help and everyone knows everyone.
L: How is Sharesies going to continue to grow and beat out its competitors?
B: The big focus is always on our customers, we’re solving a real problem and we need to do it in the way that makes investing an everyday habit. We have a lot of cool things up our sleeves that we are looking forward to launching in the future, but we are also making sure we learn from our customers and focusing on doing our best possible to make investing more loveable.
L: What is your inspiration to keep grinding this dream every day?
B: Everything we do is because we know the positive and big impact that Sharesies can have on future generations. Most people learn about money through their families, but that sucks if you don’t know wanyone who knows anything about money. Sharesies aims to change that.
L: 2500 followers in a month? Sharesies is doing it right. The concept is along the lines of many similar trends right now which prioritise simplifying what could be considered complicated every day tasks such as 'Uber' with taxis, 'Air BnB' with accomodation and even 'Pricespy' with shopping.
By taking something people want to do but find tedious and excessive, and then making it accessible, they have captured a niche much larger than people would normally predict. By keeping their entry at only a mear $50 also attracts those that normally wouldn’t even consider such a venture, and they’re appealing to the masses rapidly and effectively.
This is a company that knows what they’re about and knows how to win from day one.
Investment has gone through its swings, from stock market crashes to high rollers living off smart choices. People like Gary Vaynerchuk inspire you with their decisions to invest in companies such as Snapchat and Uber, whilst others like Jordan Belfort a.k.a ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ terrify you with the pitfalls of investment. Sharesies has taken these views and created a platform where you can act like Gary without the risk of making a Jordan like mistake.
I’m lucky to have some financial background, but many out there never even look into the idea of investment, so Sharesies is really providing what I’d deem a vital service for a country that has very little in terms of investment at all. If Sharesies does this right, and it sure looks like they are, they could very much be a big time baller in a market set to burst on our shores.