“Lower transaction fees are forcing traditional players to cater towards the ultra-rich, instead of offering personalised solutions to everyone.”
Murshid M. Ali is the Co-Founder and CEO of Huddlestock, who will be taking part in the 2018 edition of Fintech Europe, a unique investment readiness program created by Village Capital in conjunction with PayPal, Middlegame Ventures and the LHoFT.
The program will be held in Berlin, April 16 -19, and Luxembourg May 14 – 17 & June 11 – 14. The program will provide three months of venture development training for 12 fintech and regtech entrepreneurs creating financial health and compliance solutions for the EU. The ventures are all backable, and represent a high degree of both innovation and impact in the financial space. Up to two companies will be eligible for funding of up to € 200,000 from MiddleGame Ventures.
The Huddlestock management team. Murshid M. Ali second from left.
Huddlestock uses patented crowdtrading technology to provide an efficient way for retail investors to access the financial industry.
Please introduce yourself, and tell us a little bit about your journey with Huddlestock:
A native Sri Lankan, I grew up in Norway, studied, lived and worked in 5-6 different countries, across 3 different continents, I consider myself somewhat of a global citizen. I did my masters at Grenoble Ecole de Management, and worked for a couple of years, in the energy and finance industry, before I decided to start my first company in the end of 2010. It was a consultancy, and learned me the ins-and-outs of entrepreneurship.
In 2013 I sold my part of that business and embarked on a Phd in Economics, while I simultaneously co-founded three other companies the next couple of years – one of them was Huddlestock. Huddlestock was started in 2014, together with Øyvind Hovland and Michel van Tol, the other founders. Our vision with the company was to use new technology and build a platform where anyone, regardless of their investment amount, would be able to tap into investment ideas formerly only accessible to institutional investors.
Three years later, we have launched, raised a fair bit of capital, have 1250 investors on the platform, and are now expanding into new countries.
What are the key differentiators between Huddlestock and other retail investment platforms on the market?
One of the things I love about what we have accomplished in Huddlestock is the level of financial inclusion, and access to great investment ideas across borders. We just launched in Sri Lanka together with our partner there, Acuity – one of the largest Investment Banks in the country. Acuity typically only caters local clients, that invest into local ideas on the Colombo Stock Exchange. Through Huddlestock, any investors, based globally, gets access to the whole array of investment opportunities in Sri Lanka, through the expertise of Acuity.
So a Norwegian investor, through only a two-step process, can invest into Sri Lankan shares, together with hundreds of local Sri Lankans. In a similar way, Sri Lankans can easily invest, together with hundreds of Norwegians, or Brits, into local investment ideas in their country. We crowd-trade investments in real-time, so everyone benefit from lower fees, than trading individually. These are only a few of key differentiators between Huddlestock and other retail investment platforms out there.
The Huddlestock dashboard.
What do you think are the key factors driving the recent evolution in the wealth management product category?
Consumers are becoming increasingly more prone to use digital tools and customized solutions when taking care of their excess funds, inheritance or savings. Lower transaction fees in the industry are forcing traditional players, or existing incumbents, to cater towards the ultra-rich, instead of offering personalised solutions to everyone. We offer both the latest technology, great investment ideas, and a personalised solution to cater your needs when taking care of your capital.
In the process of building such an ambitious platform, what have been your most important lessons along the way?
Use experts in the domains where you are weak. Understand your clients, and build a product that speaks to them. We spent many years building a platform, focusing on making a investment marketplace that we would use. But who were we? Phd’s and highly technology-prone founders – so we had to re-launch the design of the platform, to cater to more people. Still we are working on making it easier to use, and more attractive to a larger segment of the population.
Also, make sure you work with fun people!
Demoing the Huddlestock platform.
Looking at the currently popular technology trends, such as AI and blockchain, what excites you? Where do you have doubts?
Everything excites me! I think AI and Blockchain are fascinating. I think artificial intelligence can solve many of the challenges and problems humans face today; often related to our own biases and stubbornness to change. I first came across blockchain when I bought my first bitcoins in 2014, and have since then read a lot about the technology. It can potentially offer a great paradigm change, and I think we are in the very early beginnings of that change. Blockchain and AI together will be a powerful combination that can give us more freedom, more choices, wealth, and a brighter future in many industries.
What are you hoping to get out of the Fintech Europe 2018 program?
We are hoping to learn from the best, and potentially find partners who can help us scale and distribute the Huddlestock platform globally.
Thanks for taking part!