When investing, your capital is at risk.
In an increasingly remote world, communication is paramount – especially when you’re dealing with money.
There are plenty of collaboration tools out there, designed to help businesses navigate remote operations, or move information quickly and easily. However, not all these tools – in fact very few of them – are tailored to the specific needs of complex industries such as investment services. What works for a tech startup or a marketing firm won’t necessarily work for the trading floor.
George Lipordezis started Echofin with co-founder Kris Leonidou to provide a communications platform for the 300 million retail traders and investors worldwide who don’t currently have a tool that does what they need it to.
We sat down with him to find out more.
What is Echofin’s vision in your own words?
We’re building the ultimate social network for financial traders and investors. With the given tools available today, social trading is limited to copy-trading and vertical communication between closed-group members. Echofin on the other hand, is a communication platform that fosters collaboration and interaction, giving investors and traders the ability to create their own communities and join others. They can exchange messages, discuss financial markets, source inspiration, get educated, and communicate horizontally like never before.
What inspired you to start the company?
Being traders ourselves, we faced a common problem: trading in isolation doesn’t promote profitability. When trading, you need to consume a lot of information, and quickly. Some of that information is available through financial service websites but you always need that little bit extra. Traders need inspiration or validation for their positions and strategies, and access to information which is usually dispersed throughout conversations with fellow peers.
Before Echofin, traders just chatted on generic chat apps. When remote working, in the middle of a torrid trading session, family and friends would disrupt the communication flow and make it difficult to work effectively. At that moment, we realised that there wasn’t a messaging tool in existence that truly catered to the needs of retail traders, like Instant Bloomerg or Symphony does for institutional investors. There was a gap in the market, particularly for startups, and we knew we had an opportunity to address it.
What makes your team equipped for this venture?
Both our founders come from a strong technical background. I’ve founded several financial services tools used by traders/investors as well as brokers like FXCM. I’ve also been an active forex trader for over ten years, giving me a crucial understanding of the industry and its needs.
My co-founder and COO Kris has been involved in startups as a founder for over a decade. He’s been down the company acquisition path before and has brought products from concept, to MVP and all the way to scale. Our hands-on advisor, Mr. Stergiou is an ex-Thomson Reuters Head of Strategy and Business and his knowledge and experience are invaluable to the team. The Echofin team as a whole is made up of senior engineers with experience in financial and enterprise projects. Each and every one was selected specifically to ensure we have the most experienced and knowledgeable people manning the company’s day-to-day operations.
How is Echofin disrupting the industry?
We live in an era of information, but more information isn’t always better. Premium information is becoming more and more valuable. Take a look at Substack for example – a few years back, who would have thought that people would be willing to pay to receive a premium newsletter in their inbox? What communication platforms really need is the ability for community owners to provide users with premium, pay-to-access content.
Echofin fixes the broken payment and subscription flow that other communication and messaging platforms suffer from, by streamlining the entire process for the buyer and the seller. Sellers set up their billing plans (such as pricing, subscription cycle, trials, etc) through the platform and assign them to specific content (such as a chatroom, a webinar or a financial widget). Then, buyers can instantly purchase and subscribe directly from within the platform, without needing external payment and subscription integrations (such as Paypal, Memberful, Launchpass, etc). Moreover, subscription events such as renewals and cancellations are handled automatically by the platform, lifting an additional burden off the sellers’ shoulders.
How does the platform compare to competitors in the space like Slack?
Slack (a $23B IPO company) is a unified communication platform. Initially, it was designed for software developers, and while it is a superb communication solution tool, it lacks the financial integrations and specific features that a financial community needs. For example, setting up a pay-to-access, subscription chatroom on Slack would require external integrations. In Slack, a user is a member of one team at a time. If a user is a member of different Slack teams, they would need to have separate user accounts and profiles for each.
Typing a symbol in an Echofin timeline results in a cashtag with real-time price quotes and company news. While Slack is focused on providing its users an environment designed to promote creativity and optimal workflow, Echofin accomplishes all that, plus a multi-chatroom workspace that gives users the ability to follow multiple conversations taking place in different teams all at once, in a pre-structured format that is sensitive to market alerts and signals, fine-tuned for users’ roles and permissions, and branded to the team’s workspace.
Where do you see the most growth potential in the near future within your industry?
Over the years, apps like Robinhood have made retail investing more appealing to millenials. Crypto trading is a rising trend, both for younger generations and old school traders, even those who were skeptical at first. People want to learn how to trade crypto and stocks, and we are driving our marketing strategies to include them into our customer acquisition flow.
Why did you choose crowdfunding and how will you use the proceeds from this round to power growth?
Over the past two years, many stakeholders, including our customers and financial service providers, expressed their interest in becoming shareholders in the business. Crowdfunding is a great way to be able to bring them on board, in addition to the many individuals who understand our vision, the importance of our product and the value of the market we’re addressing. Many of our existing investors are experts in the financial services industry and by opening a dialogue with them, and having them directly invested in the success of the business, we’ve opened up a whole new channel through which to receive the kind of valuable external input that can help us improve our product.
If you weren’t running Echofin, what would you be doing?
Running another startup project with the same team.
What’s one top finance tip you’d give to the future generation?
Plan the trade, trade the plan.
To find out more about Echofin, visit the pitch now.