The demand for comprehensive self-directed investing and robo-advisory platforms is rising at an increasing pace outside of the U.S.
That’s according to Mudani co-founder Daniel Mullen, who spoke with Benzinga about why his firm’s cross-border investing app is a better way to trade fractional U.S. stocks and ETFs, options and cryptocurrency.
Here’s the conversation that transpired.
Q: Hey Daniel, nice to meet you! Tell me a bit about yourself and the motivations behind Mudani.
A: Out of college, I went to Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS) at their headquarters in New York.
I was on the credit derivatives sales and trading desk where I learned a lot in terms of complex securities and credit default swap trading. I eventually pivoted more to the investment management side of the business.
Partners Group is a very unique group where we would manage the partners of the firm’s wealth — from CEO to management committee members — and also the wealth of major corporations.
A few colleagues and I wanted to create a cross-border platform [through which] people, from all over the world, could invest in the U.S. market and own the brands that they use every day.
We all left Goldman to focus on it full-time. It’s taken a year to build and we’re going to be launching in the next 45 days as a dual-journey platform.
We’re launching in the U.S. first, but our end market is going to be India.
Why India? What’s a core focus for the company there, at the outset?
There’s a huge growing English-speaking middle class. They’re interested in owning U.S. stocks because they use the brands every single day, just like we do here in the U.S.
There’s going to be a huge kind of learning, educational and gaming arm of the actual app that will hopefully engage our users.
Tell me about the process it took to build that platform?
We have our own development team based here in the U.S. and India.
We partnered with Alpaca for the U.S. brokerage and we’re going to be partnering with another international broker-dealer for when we launch in India.
We’re also integrating with Plaid, Hydrogen and a few other really cool, unique API providers. We’re going to be launching credit and debit cards with really huge cash and crypto rewards.
Is the market saturated? If so, how does that impact Mudani’s growth potential?
The U.S. is definitely saturated, but it’s definitely not saturated overseas, especially in India.
The second thing is, our robo solution is going to be different than all the others.
When users fill out our questionnaire, they’re going to get a bunch of names that they’ll own instead of generic ETFs with low-cost fees.
The other part is gaming.
The gaming aspect is definitely unique to what’s out there now, [and] kind of twisting those games into more of an educational tool.
The sole focus over the next six to 12 months?
We’re waiting on some SEC approvals for these games, to make sure they’re not too gamified.
Ultimately, right after we get that approval, we’re going to launch a very cool waitlist campaign, similar to like a Jet.com contest where people would receive equity options and future stock in the company.
What are you concerned about?
The most challenging aspect is going to be growing that user base.
I think creating quality content will kind of spread the word by itself, [and] we have a very creative team, so we’ll see how that goes.
Once we launch internationally, it’s going to be cross-border and getting those fees to zero for our international customers, just like they are in the U.S.
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