Tech start-up wants to turn us all into investors
A former lawyer and serial entrepreneur behind the UK's first app-only stockbroker has said he will stop at nothing to make investing "accessible to the masses."
Former City Boy Mark Ackred is the co-founder, CEO and head of business development at London-based dabbl, a smartphone app launched just over two years ago to change people's attitude about investing.
Put simply, it lets you invest in a brand or business that you love or believe in.
The 'Shazam for investing' app works by allowing users to take a picture of any product or brand and then buy shares in the company that makes or owns it – although Ackred admits that feature is largely ‘a gimmick’.
"What we’re really trying to do is get people to open their eyes to the world around them and realise there are plenty of companies they already know a lot about – and that’s a good place to think about starting to invest," he said.
After a lengthy career in City spread betting, Ackred realised there was a gap in the market for people who were put off by complex jargon but that also did not want to be patronised.
He even managed to pitch the idea to Sir John Hegarty, the 72-year-old advertising veteran who co-founded Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH), who decided to invest his own money into the business.
"What became apparent to me was that there was this disassociation between the stock market and the end investor," he said.
"It's become a lot more tech-driven and people don’t want to just bet on the value of a company going up or down anymore, they want to feel a part of it – whether it’s a car, beer or a brand of shampoo."
Although Ackred admits that targeting millennials is a good way of gaining traction, at least initially, he’s a firm believer that investing should be accessible to everyone.
"I've got friends who are doctors and lawyers and they don's invest," he said. "I used to work in the City and even I didn't invest – it’s lunacy.
"We want to empower everyone to be able to invest through technology; I don't think it should be categorised as looking after one group of people."
Dabbl has this week launched an equity crowdfunding campaign on Seedrs to raise at least £350,000 – and has already exceeded its target to raise almost £600,000.
As a start-up founded to democratise and simplify investing, Ackred says crowdfunding was a natural choice.
He said: "We wanted to prove the point that you don’t have to have thousands of pounds to invest in stocks and shares - we couldn’t not in my opinion do a crowdfunding campaign."
The proceeds of the crowdfunding round will be allocated towards marketing, working capital and product development, including offering other financial products and launching cryptocurrencies.
Ackred says the app has already attracted "thousands" of subscription-paying users. As for his long-term vision, he says he’d like to see a significant uptake of people in the UK being able to invest.
"I think it should be accessible to the masses and I won’t stop until we've achieved that," he said.
Interactive digital magazine below