Tushar Makhija, Stockezy: India’s first online social community for stock investments
If you’re looking to invest in stocks and don’t have the time to do the requisite research, Stockezy promises to ease things for you. Stockezy is an online platform that connects Indian stock market investors and acts as common ground for like-minded investors to share ideas and work together to make more informed investing decisions.Stockezy, headquartered out of Mumbai, aims to unleash the collective wisdom of all individual investors who can help one another invest better. We at YourStory caught up with entrepreneur Tushar Makhija to know more about this business idea and how it changes things for the common investor.
Tushar, tell us about how Stockezy started.
Well, the business idea for Stockezy took shape in 2007. I had graduated from the University of Southern California (USA) and had found work with VMware. I was in the second year of my employment there and some employee stock options (ESOPs) were issued to me. So, automatically I had a trading account. Once the first batch of stocks matured, I sold them and had some cash in hand. That was when I got introduced to investing. My co-founders (Rushab Doshi and Nikhil Badwe) were with me, all through this and we started getting exposed to a lot of information about investing in stocks, both online and offline.
Casually, we started speaking to batch mates from college about investing in stocks in India and noticed that those who were doing it were massively dependent on their brokers. The standard refrain was, how do I know what’s happening in the markets in India sitting in the US? Sure, there were news sites. But that’s one-way information. There was no scope for discussion.
So, we started a Google group. Friends who were in India started feeding information and I started feeding that back to my mother, who was in India and was investing on my behalf.
So, you closed the loop by creating the Stockezy platform.
That’s right. I think we pretty much coined the phrase ‘social investing’. We took the pluses of social networking and applied that to investing in stocks to create the platform. The idea was to cater to the bottom of the pyramid, of the investing world. Stockezy’s clearly aimed at the retail investor who doesn’t have the time to think about investing. These guys make mostly distress investments, done during February – March, the tax season.
But investing in stocks is about people’s money. And that’s not something that people are happy to discuss about, openly. How does Stockezy get around that?
Yes, there is a fundamental tussle there. Sharing’s all about social standing. And investments are personal. It is a problem that we face. I mean, we need to look at people’s portfolios to advise them better. And no one wants to share the details of their portfolio.
But people are more than happy to rate stocks. So, we’ve got a “like” or “dislike” setup for stocks. And then, we go to the next layer. If it’s a “buy”, then we try to get out why it is a “buy” and for how long it will be a “buy”. Then, we move into what the climb will be. From this point on, it gets a little technical. But beyond the jargon, it’s about getting a sense of what people feel about particular stocks and where they see it heading.So, does Stockezy capture the money getting spent by the users? And can people manage their portfolio on Stockezy?
Well, the software simulates the trading environment. We’re not capturing the money spent. We capture buy/sell/hold, holding period and target. This is compared to real market ratings and the stock predictions are updated every two minutes. It’s a bit of self-evaluation tool. The guys who predict better (“top-rated analysts”) get to show off their expertise. There are cash rewards as well and these analysts are findable. He/she could be a day trader or even a short-term player.
Our first application was Stock Picks, which was launched in early 2008. Today, there’s a portfolio application as well.
What’s the sort of traction that you’re seeing at Stockezy?
We’ve had over 400,000 transactions till date. The cumulative net worth would be around Rs.4 crores. That’s the summation of all the portfolios on the site. Futures and options have been very hot in the last one year. About three months back, we launched F&O Picks.
We’ve also started attracting a lot of smart analysts. And that’s an important indicator of things. There are analysts who run blogs and own advisory firms. They get on Stockezy to show off expertise. A number of these guys are able to take some of these dealings offline as well. But they keep coming back to the platform for social recognition. After all, these are the people who love to share their viewpoints.
For people who are at the basic level of investing, we have a feature called community sentiment and people can also find out what’s hot for the day.
There seems to be a lot of focus on the common investor.
We have a partner called Tom Dorsey. He’s 62 and he’s got his own research and investment advisory company in the US. He speaks about how there are two types of investors – people who want a 2-inch drill and people who want 2-inch holes. The former needs tools, which we have. But the latter needs solutions and that, for us, is the key segment. When it comes to stocks, people need solutions that they can trust and that could mean creating a watch list for trusted stocks, suggestions on good time to buy/sell, etc. We’re looking at changing the way the common investor approaches the stock market.
What is Stockezy’s revenue model?
Currently, site access is completely free. Access to basic research is also free. But people who want real-time SMS or email updates are charged for that service. Soon, granular information like support price, kickoff price, etc. will be provided and charged accordingly.
From the total available market point of view, how are things looking for Stockezy?
Well, it’s definitely a good time to be in business. A lot of young investors are coming in and lots of non-traders as well. Our immediate target is somewhere in between 4 million to 8 million consumers. We have people from Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities. These days, it’s easier to get them to trust an online platform. Familiarity with the online model of e-commerce is something that’s helped.
How has the journey been so far for Stockezy?
We have about 30,000 registered members and close to 100,000 visitors every month. The stock picking app is most popular and we have our most active users from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bangalore. The south is more active than the north. We’re targeting the NRI community as well and we do receive a considerable number of hits from places like Bahrain and Dubai.
There are likely to be some changes in the regulatory policies as well. The SEBI’s looking at making things easier for investing in India. That’ll help.
Currently, there’s no need to register to receive the basic research and some users are still in passive mode. As entrepreneurs, that’s exactly what we are looking to change.
We at YourStory wish Tushar and the entire team at Stockezy all the very best. To know more about this social investing platform, check out http://www.stockezy.com/. Also, let us know what you think of this story by writing to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sriram Mohan | YourStory | 16th June 2011 | Bangalore