When South African stock exchange personal assistant platform Stock Shop went live a year ago it was a very different animal to what it is now, providing education tools, collated products and services and trading tools for individuals looking to invest on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).
The platform was designed to act as a personal assistant for non-expert individuals looking to invest in stocks, with co-founders Annabel Dallamore and Lawrence Joffe having been working on it since January 2014 and passing through the Seed Engine accelerator programme in Johannesburg.
But Dallamore told Disrupt Africa Stock Shop had taken a step back and refocused its model based on feedback from users and watching the type of interaction that took place on the platform, hence new product rollouts in the last few weeks.
“We realised very quickly there was a fundamental issue with how people are taught about the stock market. It is really broken how information is provided and how people are expected to upskill themselves,” she said.
“We realise we can’t have one without the other. We found a lot of our users were feeling very alone and overwhelmed with the information that was being given to them.”
The result was the startup amending its model and launching online learning platform Stock Shop Academy. The academy allows users to upskill themselves in their own time through a wide variety of free courses.
Dallamore, who previously worked at the JSE and learnt how most people think of the stock market as “opaque, scary and complicated”, said the Stock Shop Academy offers courses through partnerships with corporates. These companies provide the startup with its revenue, promoting their products on the platform or sponsoring and branding content.
The academy has had 300 signups since launching two weeks ago, but Stock Shop isn’t stopping there. It also offers Stock Shop Daily News, a news service for new-to-the-market reader updates on financial news and tips. New products are also in the pipeline.
“Really our goal is to build out a user’s financial life in one place,” Dallamore said.
“We tailor every part of the service around you. We feel like the differentiator is personalising the content. We’re trying to humanise as much of the content and tools as possible to fit the user.”
The startup is still working through its seed funding, and is set to break-even by early 2016. Though focused on the JSE, Dallamore said Stock Shop has been contacted by a number of African countries and global banks to help them bring the concept to their markets.
“It is fantastic feedback that what we’re doing is on the right path,” she said, though she said South Africa would remain Stock Shop’s primary market.
“The basic framework is built for a global view. But content is targeted at the South African market first and foremost.”