FintekNews is pleased to offer our weekly feature column 3 Questions. Each week, we feature a thought leader within a unique sector of fintech and ask them to answer just 3 questions for our audience in their vernacular. This week, we’d like to introduce you to Avi Lele, CEO & Co-Founder of Stockpile. The firm was founded a few Christmases ago, when Avi thought it would be neat to give his nieces and nephews some stock in their favorite companies instead of more stuff, and went on to co-found Stockpile to fill that void.
NAME: Avi Lele
TITLE: Co-Founder & CEO
WEB ADDRESS: www.stockpile.com
How did you personally become involved in fintech?
I wasn’t really part of the fintech community until I founded Stockpile. After getting my EE degree, I went to law school and then practiced law for 16 years. But a few years ago, I was Christmas shopping for my nieces and nephews and thought “Wouldn’t it be neat to give them stock in their favorite companies instead of more stuff they’ll just play with a couple of times and forget about?”
I started the process, but it was such a hassle, I gave up. I needed to open brokerage accounts for them, which meant I needed to know their SSNs. I barely know my own kids’ SSNs! Then I made the mistake of asking my sister what stocks she thought they might like, and she mentioned Apple and Google – pretty pricey at hundreds of dollars a share. I went back to the toy store that year, but couldn’t get it out of my mind. I thought there has to be an easier way to do this. And that’s how Stockpile was born, and how I got involved in fintech.
What does your firm do/offer within the fintech sector?
86% of America has never invested in the stock market outside of a retirement plan. It’s not because they don’t want to. It’s because it costs a lot to get started, and the whole process is pretty intimidating for most of us. It’s not like they teach you about investing or finances in high school or college.
We make it super easy to get started investing with fractional shares. This way, anyone can buy quality stocks like Amazon — you can buy, say, $50 of Amazon even though 1 share costs $1000. You don’t have to bottom fish for penny stocks, nor are you limited to ETFs or mutual funds.
We’ve also made the stock market more accessible by putting it on a gift card. For the first time ever, you can walk into a retailer like Target or a supermarket like Kroger or Safeway and buy a gift card good for $50 of Apple stock or $25 of Facebook stock right off the rack. You can even turn your rewards points into stock in more and more rewards programs.
Financial literacy is a big part of our mission. We teach you how to master the market through our bite-sized mini-lessons, including the power of diversifying and investing on a regular basis.
What has been the biggest success in your firm to date?
We’ve had tremendous success bringing in the next generation of investors. Two-thirds of our customers are under the age of 35. This includes lots of millennials, but we’re even attracting kids and teens. When they open a custodial account at Stockpile, they get their own login so they can track their stocks without bugging mom or dad. They can even place trades that go to mom or dad’s smartphone for approval. It’s amazing how savvy our youngest investors are. When you start building wealth for your future as a kid or teenage, your investments have a lot more time to grow. It’s mind boggling how wealthy some of our youngest investors are going to be when they retire!