Sydney-based financial technology startup Stockspot is hoping to become the second Australian company in two years to be named a finalist at the SWIFT Innotribe Startup Challenge’s Singapore showcase. Today the company announced it has been selected to represent Australia at the showcase, which is being held at the Next Bank Asia Conference in Singapore on Thursday. Three finalists will be selected from 10 startups described as “Asia’s most Innovative early stage financial technology companies” and invited to go on to compete against finalists from New York and London showcases at the grand finale, which will be held during Sibos in Boston in October. Stockspot, which went live in Australia today after ending its private beta, is Australia’s first paperless investment service, enabling users to build a portfolio and seek advice online. Stockpot CEO Chris Brycki says the team is thrilled to have been selected. “Our technology helps to reduce the costs and risks of investing – while making wealth management accessible to more people,’’ he says. “It’s an online product that enables us to scale across a lot of people and allow people to start with a very low first balance, just $2000, so almost anyone with a little bit of savings can get started. “If those people wanted to invest, normally they couldn’t speak to a financial adviser, because they fall under their radar, it’s not worth it to them. “We’re honoured to have the opportunity to share our vision with business leaders from around Asia.” Australian startup Pocketbook, a free budget planner and personal finance software, was a finalist in last year’s Singapore showcase. Following that victory, Pocketbook raised $500,000 in a seed funding round last November, signing investment deals with Tank Stream Ventures, Sunrise host David Koch, and other private equity investors. Pocketbook also won Best New Startup at the StartupSmart awards in March. Brycki says Stockspot are hoping to emulate Pocketbook’s success, albeit in their own way, given the two business models are quite different. “We charge customers from the start, so we’re already making revenue,’’ he says. “We’d love to see a couple of hundred users; two to four hundred by the end of the year would be great for us. “We’re trying to make sure all our first customers are happy and taking on their feedback and improving the site along the way. “Making sure the quality of the service is underway before we start to look at the growth side.” Brycki says Stockspot will focus on the Australian market where it is most familiar with the regulatory requirements of the industry, before looking at expansion into other markets. “With five of the twelve largest private investment markets globally, Asia represents a huge market opportunity,’’ he says.
AWI Ventures’ financial technology fund has poured $250,000 into online investment startup Stockspot, in its first investment since launching last month. AWI Ventures is a subsidiary of ASX-listed Australasian Wealth Investments. They announced an accelerator program for financial tech startups, which will invest $100,000 in seed capital per company, last month. Stockspot will enable and advise people on creating a developed portfolio development available online. It will be Australia’s first entirely online investment offering. The offering is still in a private beta mode, but is set to launch to the public by the end of 2014. Stockspot founder and chief executive Chris Brycki told StartupSmart the fact it’s cleared many of the barriers to entry in the notoriously difficult to access financial services industry helped its investment case. “It’s a really hard industry for startups, with high barriers to entry such as legal hurdles and finding the right partners. We’ve done the ground work and are almost ready to go, which I suspect helped a lot,” Brycki says. Brycki, who quit his job as a hedge fund manager last year to develop his startup, says the $2 trillion Australian financial services industry is ripe for disruption. “The industry here is so large and hasn’t really been disrupted by technology to the extent it will and should be. Media, travel and retail are going online and changing how they’re structured, but financial services still streams through the say traditional paths.” According to Brycki, these traditional paths involved a range of players, each charging fees (a practice known as “clipping the ticket”), meaning direct tech solutions can be considerably cheaper and easier to manage. AWI Ventures chief executive Ben Heap says in a statement it expects Stockspot’s product to be well received, particularly by self-managed super fund trustees. Stockspot is currently a team of two, Brycki and a developer. The funds will go towards hiring and outsourcing engineering, marketing and social media management.