According to David Ronick, 74 percent of Americans under 30 don’t invest.
When Ronick and cofounders Brandon Krieg and Ed Robinson asked their nieces and nephews why they don’t invest, they said it’s confusing, intimidating and expensive.
Krieg and Robinson are Wall Street veterans, and with Ronick’s experience in building consumer products, the trio set about building an app that was simple, relatable and cheap to use. The result is Stash, which can get you investing in just two minutes for just $5.
Rather than having to choose from the thousands of stocks, derivatives and funds available on platforms like E-trade, Stash simplifies the decision making. Ronick (pictured left) and his team have curated a list of 30 Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) for customers to choose from, based on their performance and fees. ETFs represent a collection of stocks and allow investors to diversify without putting all their money in one basket.
The 30 carefully chosen ETF’s are split into three categories: “I want”, “I like” and “I believe."
“You choose investments based on things that matter to you, your interests, beliefs or goals, which we think is really important for this generation,” said Ronick.
The ETFs are renamed to make them more relatable. Instead of Blackrock or Vanguard XYZ, Stash users see ETFs named ‘Clean and Green’, ‘Equality Works’ or even ‘Roll with Buffet’ if you want to get a slice of Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway. Like stocks, some of these ETFs can be expensive, so Stash allows you to buy a fraction of the ETF beginning at $5.
Currently you can’t invest in single stocks, but you can search for a stock and find an ETF that includes your choice. Ronick said they will continue to curate new ETFs and will take feedback from users about the choices they would like to see.
Stash also offers ongoing guidance for investors in the form of notifications and emails. You get tips on how to diversify, investment advice tailored to your risk profile and instructions on how to manage monthly deposits and trades. “We try to guide you to build good investing habits,” said Ronick. “We encourage to buy and hold, and diversify, and not to sweat the daily ups and downs of the market. It’s really a long term theme.”
Stash charges $1 per month for account balances with less than $5,000, and 0.25 percent of account value per year above that. There are no commissions for buying or selling investments.
The idea for the company was spawned over beers in front of a white board at Techstars, where Ronick had been working on another project. The trio founded Stash in February 2015 and launched the iOS-only app in October. In the first five weeks, more than 20,000 investors had signed up. And it’s largely appealing to millennials—80 percent of customers are less than 30 years old.
Ronick said it would have been hard to imagine starting the business anywhere else other than New York, citing the quality of workers and the city’s financial connections. “Having that talent pool and the interest and resources has been critical,” he said. “This is not the kind of business you could start in your dorm room.”
Stash currently has 10 employees, but is planning on expanding rapidly in 2016. Ronick is hoping to raise more capital, develop an Android app and continue adding hundreds of thousands of users.
Images via Stash
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