Daniel Aisen
Mar 7 · 4 min read

Ever since we blasted out our company announcement in December, the name of the game has been meetings — catching up with friends and former colleagues about our plans, meeting their contacts, etc. Remaining engaged with our network will continue to be a point of focus going forward, but our top priorities now are rounding out the team and business planning.

Major updates

  • Met with ~15 buy-side firms, primarily heads of trading, to discuss our plans
  • Met with dozens of other contacts (sell-side, VCs, academics, other founders, etc.)
  • Hired our third co-founder, Han Dong, a UX engineer

Goals for the next 3 months

  • Greater focus on hiring, with a particular emphasis on equity trading technologists
  • Formalize business plan and financial projections
  • Build out research capabilities
  • Continue to produce content and engage with our network

Progress summary

Here are our full updates across the board:

Technology

  • We are very excited to announce that we’ve added a third co-founder to the team: Han Dong. Han spent the last four years at IEX as a designer / developer on the UX team. Han is a wonderful person and a brilliant engineer, plus he already knows a great deal about the equity trading ecosystem. We have no shortage of ideas for interesting and novel ways to interface with our end customers, and we are thrilled to have him along to own this piece of our offering.
  • Our primary plan is still to bring on an experienced CTO, but we have started thinking about our contingency plan in the case that Allison and I need to manage the trading stack ourselves. This would likely mean building less proprietary tech in house and more heavily leveraging vendors on day one.
  • We’ve started investigating how to obtain market data and build out research capabilities. We’ve spoken with several firms about buying/leasing historical market data (OneTick, AlgoSeek, QuantGo, Nanex, Mile59), although we haven’t yet moved forward on this front.

Regulatory

  • We completed all relevant FINRA exams. Allison has the SIE, 7, 24, and 63. Dan has the SIE, 7, 24, 27, 57, and 63. This should be everything we need on the accreditation front to apply to become a FINRA broker-dealer.
  • We’ve had preliminary conversations with the regulatory consulting firm (Regulatory Ridge) that we will likely work with to drive our broker-dealer application.

Product

  • Performed a deep dive into market data products at the various exchanges.
  • We’ve been thinking about areas in which we can differentiate: better user experience (i.e. enhanced data/visualization), protecting anonymity of customers, simpler workflow, etc.
  • No plans to lock down specific key features of the product for several months until the tech build is well underway.

Sales

  • After blasting our network with our initial announcement in December, we’ve shared our plans with many people across the industry, especially focusing on buy-side traders.
  • At this point our main ask of the buy-side is two fold: 1) can you describe your firm’s process for conducting due diligence on prospective brokers and 2) are you willing to be a sounding board for us as we build out the product. We’ve been trying to keep the ask very light for now, especially since we’re at such an early stage.
  • We’ve also had dozens of meetings with contacts on the sell-side, academics, VCs, and other fintech founders.
  • A number of people have told us we’re crazy for trying to enter this space and/or suggested that we consider alternative approaches (e.g. other markets like Asia or Brazil or other asset classes). We don’t disagree, but we continue to have conviction that our best course is to start with what we know best, and that is U.S. equities. Even still, the overall response so far has been extremely positive, and we’re very encouraged.

Operations

  • Incorporated, structured equity, set up various corporate arrangements and productivity tools (Cooley, First Republic, Carta, Globalization Partners, G Suite, Notion, Slack, GitLab).
  • Had early conversations with several clearing brokers (Broadcort, ICBC, GS, ABN Amro).
  • We have had introductory meetings with several VCs/angel investors.

Conclusion

We are very happy with how our first 3 months have unfolded! The leap was a little scary but we are emboldened as good news and small victories pour in. We hope to continue to build momentum, and we are excited for what’s to come.

We want to close this update with an enormous thank you to the handful of people who have gone above and beyond to generously offer us their time, guidance, and support these first few months. We have been overwhelmed by your kindness and enthusiasm.


Proof

Proof is a new institutional equities broker. Launching in 2020.

Daniel Aisen

Written by

Proof

Proof

Proof is a new institutional equities broker. Launching in 2020.

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