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Hey fellow entrepreneurs! Startup Radius interviewed Thematic – quite an awesome fin-tech platform that allows users to easily invest in different companies and ETFs. Thematic makes it easy to create a unique portfolio that fits you 100%. Isn’t it amazing?

Learn how they came up with this idea, how their own problem pushed them to create new product on the market, how they graduated from YC startup school, why community marketing matters, and much more. Enjoy and read below!

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Can you tell us about what you are working on? What is Thematic?

Thematic makes it easy to invest based on your values, principles and preferences. 

We learn about which topics you are interested in and what is important to you personally in terms of social responsibility and ethical compliance of companies.

Traditionally, you would need to spend hours of research to find the right companies and create a portfolio, but with Thematic you are able to create a personalised investment portfolio in a matter of minutes.

We simplify the investment process by starting with “themes”, structural shifts in the global economy that we can all recognise. Some of our themes are “Software Revolution”, “Healthy Living” and “Future of Healthcare”.  

So, if we see that an increasing number of people are becoming more health-aware and are spending more on fitness, organic food and technology that helps them become and stay healthy, we can pick out companies that are poised to benefit from this change. Various kinds of companies are involved in this theme, ranging from companies producing food, sporting goods to companies creating tech products (wearables, connected workout equipment, etc.). 

With Thematic, you discover themes, companies, create a portfolio and invest – all through a simple, effortless experience.

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Why are you building this? Was there a particular source of inspiration or money-making idea?

Thematic is solving our own problem. We wanted to invest our money in stocks but we were faced with the prospect of spending lots of time researching the markets and companies (there are more than 10 thousand publicly listed companies and thousands of ETFs on US exchanges alone) to find companies that match our preferences, ethical requirements and have solid financial fundamentals.

The existing tools we researched only solved a small part of our problem, and it was usually through old-fashioned and complicated UI. We felt that there must be a better way, a way which allows you to invest your money in companies you find interesting but still can understand their business from a financial point of view. And we wanted to create a product which allows you to do this in a matter of minutes instead of hours.

Further on, in an effort to rival Robinhood, major US brokerages cut their trading commissions to zero very recently. With this change we can see a new wave of investors, especially the younger ones, wanting to start investing. 

With Thematic, they can leverage this zero-commission shift to buy shares directly in multiple companies and ETFs, creating their own personalized mini-funds that reflect their own values, principles and beliefs.

Time for bragging! How big you are – traffic, users, anything else?

We recently graduated from YC Startup School during which we launched our MVP without any promotional efforts. There we got first users to try Thematic so we can learn quickly and iterate further.

We also submitted Thematic to Product Hunt and got great feedback, and in a single day got more than 100 users. Currently, there are more than 200 investors on Thematic.

We also just released a new version which allows you to trade with Robinhood directly from Thematic. Apart from Robinhood we are working on integrating with more brokerages soon.

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Who are your main competitors, and how good/bad they are?

It’s hard to pinpoint direct competitors because at Thematic we took a unique approach to solving the problem of finding investment ideas. Our approach suits both experienced investors and new ones, because we offer powerful insights and tools in an easy-to-understand way. 

Other companies mainly focus on more experienced investors and analysts and those are FinBox and Guru Focus. We consider them indirect competitors and really think they provide good value but new investors might be overwhelmed by those products. Apart from our app, used by retail investors, we are working with investment advisors and analysts that can integrate Thematic in their own systems to offer clients a better, personalised investing experience.

Who uses Thematic? What is your perfect buyer persona?

Our end users are retail investors. They can use Thematic directly via the web app or through their investment advisor if they already have one.

A typical user of Thematic is a young employed professional with clear life values and principles. They are ready to invest their money in order to save and grow their wealth but, at the same time, they want to make sure that their money is doing good and it is supporting their vision of the future.

Were there any early ‘growth hacks’ or tactics that have contributed to your current success?

From the start our main focus was talking to users, building the product quickly and iterating based on the feedback. The first step was creating a product which people love and the second is growing the user base.

We have succeeded in the first step and are now starting with the second step. And it is in this second step that we are going to experiment with various tactics. And we are sure that we are going to learn a lot and would be really happy to share our learnings with your readers in the future.

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What were some of the biggest challenges while building Thematic early on and how did you solve them?

One of the biggest challenges was identifying and prioritising the features of Thematic. We have so many ideas we want to bring to life through Thematic but we knew that we need to start with only a small set of those in order to build something quickly and get it in the hands of users.

The fact that my co-founder and I are both target users of Thematic helped us identify the features we needed first. Additionally, our advisors who have rich experience in Investing and Finance helped us shape the early version of our product. Finally, talking to users and learning about what problems they have, before actually building the product, was of tremendous help too.

If you could give a marketing advice to other companies, what could it be based on your experience?

We are yet to launch a full marketing campaign so we do not have much to share on that front. But talking to users, building the product quickly and listening to feedback is the way to go if you want users to love your product.

Which marketing channels you prefer and why?

As said before, for us marketing meant talking to people early on. And it is these people that eventually became users of Thematic. Therefore marketing meant reaching out to people in person and on different forums (Reddit, Hacker News, Indie Hackers etc.).

A channel that brought a lot of people to Thematic quickly was Product Hunt. People on Product Hunt are early adopters, they like trying out new products and are open to giving constructive feedback. So this channel was definitely useful for us.

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Is Thematic monetized? Why did you choose the current monetization method? 

We are still in a very early stage so we did not start generating revenue yet. We have several methods that we are testing out right now, both for our B2C and B2B channels.

What are the top 5-10 products/services you use in your company and why do you like them?

Some of the products and services that we use are:

  • Notion – helps us organise our ideas, research and user interviews
  • Slack – makes team communication easier
  • Asana – enables us efficient project organisation
  • AWS – provides solid infrastructure for our product
  • Hotjar – helps us learn how people use our product at larger scale
  • Amplitude – lets us easier test and track the impact of product updates
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