November 2, 2023: A better investment experience with SnapTrade
Learn more about SnapTrade, AI continues to remain in the news, an honest take on selling a money-losing business, and more
Profile: Meet Brendan Wood and SnapTrade
We sat down with Brendan Wood, CEO and Founder of SnapTrade to discuss the journey and inspiration behind the business
What is SnapTrade?
SnapTrade offers a unified trading API for retail stock brokerage accounts.
Users can connect their existing trading accounts to investing apps that help them do portfolio analysis, explore new investments, share investments with friends, and more.
SnapTrade offers real-time holdings, full historical transactions, and order execution.
What is the inspiration behind it?
We built a B2C investing app that needed high-quality brokerage integrations, but there was no solution on the market.
The app's growth was hamstrung by the lack of integrations, so we had to build it ourselves. We got really good at stitching together trading APIs and eventually released it as a standalone product available to any investing app.
How has it been received by the market?
It's been received tremendously well. There is a lot of pent-up demand for a product like this.
Prior to launching SnapTrade, the only reasonable solution available to apps was to become a brokerage themselves...which is expensive and binds the app to just one country. We're making it possible for apps to create new trading experiences that leverage the user's existing account, which decreases time-to-market and reduces the barrier to entry for onboarding new users.
How did you know you were ready to be a Founder?
I've always had "the itch".
I worked at a couple of startups as a developer prior to founding SnapTrade.
It started as a side project, and I knew it was time to leave when the double workload got unmanageable. I don't think you can ever be truly "ready" because you don't know what you don't know. So you have to take the leap first.
How did you meet your Co-Founder and know they were the right person to embark on this journey with?
I met my cofounder just a few weeks before we decided to work together. We had complementary skill sets and both had the itch to do something big.
When we decided to work together, it wasn't a big deal that we didn't know each other well because the company had no value at the time. We figured that if it didn't work, we'd just part ways and do something else. I didn't invite any of my friends to join because I didn't want to risk ruining a friendship over a silly startup.
What has been the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn?
Learning to handle rejection has definitely been the hardest part for me. Especially early on in my entrepreneurial journey, I got a lot of no's.
No's from customers, startup accelerators, potential investors, regulators, industry partners, etc. It's hard to believe in yourself and maintain conviction in the face of so much disbelief, negativity, and inertia against trying new things. I questioned my sanity more than once, but the thing that kept me going was the yes’. They were few and far between at first, but they showed that we weren't alone and somebody somewhere was getting value from the business.
So we persevered.
What are you looking to achieve over the next 12 months?
Stepping up product quality and adding new integrations are the primary goals for the next 12 months.
We have a new piece of infrastructure that will allow us to systematize our integration process and extend support to many new institutions quickly. We are also pushing hard on the partnership front to gain access to even higher-quality APIs that we can bake into the product.
What advice do you wish you had been given when you were first starting out?
Worry less about what investors think of you, worry more about what customers think.
It seems almost pithy in retrospect, but fundamentally no investor will have the same level of insight as founders, and the customers are the ones that ultimately need to benefit if you're going to have a sustainable business.
Who are the Canadian startups you admire in your market?
Quick Take: How AI is helping make sustainable and affordable housing
image courtesy ideogram.ai
What is the news?
Toronto-based Promise Robotics announced a $15m USD in a round led by Horizon Ventures with participation from Radical Ventures, United Brother of Carpenters, Relay Ventures, and Alate Partners.
What does Promise Robotics do?
Promise uses AI and robotics to enable the building industry to automate housing in a flexible manner.
Unlike the robots in an automotive assembly line, Promise's robots are flexible and trained by AI to efficiently build housing units of multiple sizes and designs.
This should result in more affordable and sustainable houses.
Why would Promises robots result in more sustainable and affordable housing?
Hypothetically using Promises robots will reduce the time it takes to build a house and the waste while building. The waste will make the houses more sustainable and reduce costs.
Faster building time via automation should reduce the amount of capital required to build a house which should lower the cost of building.
Labor costs are a huge component of building houses and there are constant labor shortages. The real question on affordability is how much it costs to use Promise Robotics on a house versus the amount of labor cost saved.
Where has Promise Robotics built houses?
They are currently building units in the Northwest Territories and plan to build houses in Alberta.
The Northwest Territories is a no-brainer as the costs of labor and goods are significantly higher there. It will be interesting to see how the company performs in Alberta.
Why was this attractive to investors?
As we all live in Canada we are aware of how unaffordable housing has become. The US has seen the same issue. If we can reduce the cost and time required to build housing there is a massive market and a social good.
What is interesting is that the United Brotherhood of Carpenters invested in a technology that can be viewed as competitive with their business.
What are the takeaways for our community?
This is the start of a new robotics investment wave.
AI is bringing new capabilities and functionality to robotics. Couple that with an ongoing labor shortage in many industries and you have a recipe for many large companies and lots of investment.
I love how Promise validated their company in the geographic area that felt the pain most acutely. It is a reminder that start-ups need to find a wedge and early adopters that most need their product then they can find a way to improve the offering to get wider adoption.
A new episode drops this week
Reads & Opportunities
An honest article on the struggle of selling a money-losing business
Another important fundraising round was just announced
More insights into Inovia’s Discovery Fund and how it’s supporting the ecosystem
Fairly AI is hiring an Engineer - apply here
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