Meet Shares, a new European startup that wants to add a social twist to financial investment — in this case, the company means "social" as in "social network". The startup has been developing its product under the radar for a few months already. It is also moving at a fast pace. It has assembled a team of 35 people and raised $10 million in a pre-product seed round.
Shares sent me a few details about what you should expect from the trading platform and why it’s different from what’s out there. Essentially, the startup combines two important trends.
First, stock trading has been moving to mobile and a few tech companies have been working on well-designed trading platforms to appeal to a new set of users. That shift is well underway in the U.S., as Robinhood has managed to attract tens of millions of users.
In Europe, it’s been a different story as the European market is still fragmented with a handful of stock-trading apps slowly expanding to new markets. Those companies include Freetrade, Trade Republic, Bitpanda and, to a certain degree, Revolut.
The second big investment trend of the past couple of years is that investment has become a social activity. Evidence of this lies in the GameStop short squeeze that occurred back in January 2021. In other words, people like to talk about stocks on Reddit, Discord, Telegram groups and more.
With Shares, users will be able to trade 1,500 stocks with no-minimum, no-fees access. You’ll be able to buy fractional shares and start investing with £1.00 in your Shares account. With such a low barrier to entry, the startup wants to convince first-time investors, as the vast majority of people don’t own individual stocks. Shares plans to comply with KYC and AML regulation (Know Your Customer and Anti-Money Laundering).
But the app will offer more than just an interface to buy and sell shares. Users will be able to start conversations with friends, learn from peers and access market intelligence data. Shares will also feature some information to learn more about investing, tax, regulation and compliance. The most intriguing feature will be the ability to create group stock indexes with friends.
The startup was co-founded by Benjamin Chemla and François Ruty. Among other things, Chemla previously co-founded Stuart, a last-mile logistics company that was acquired by La Poste in 2017.
They have already raised $10 million in a seed round led by Singular. Valar Ventures, Global Founders Capital and Red Sea Ventures also participated in the funding round. The startup has also partnered with some strategic advisors, including Freetrade co-founder André Mohamed.
That’s an impressive seed round for a fintech company that isn’t live yet. With a team of 35 people, it’s clear that Shares wants to move fast. It's going to be interesting to see how online communities react when the app goes live.
Update 2021-09-28: A previous version of this article stated that you can "learn from experts." Other Shares users should be considered as "peers", not experts. Shares has provided the following statement: "Shares App is a community powered investment platform that will facilitate users to interact with each other. The views and opinions expressed on Shares App are those of the authors and do not constitute investment advice."