What inspires someone to uproot a company and move halfway around the world? For the trio of Russian co-founders behind stock charting site TradingView, the answer was opportunity.
Having already built a successful business that provided charting tools for American investors, MultiCharts, Stan Bokov and his teammates wanted to create a platform that had a lower financial barrier to entry and additional features. Thus, TradingView was born. They created a system that offered superior charting tools combined with the ability to have conversations right in the web app. Bokov thinks TradingView is the answer to existing charting tools, which either cost $1,500 and up, or are limited in scope, like Yahoo! Finance.
“What always bugged us is that you can’t talk to anybody,” Bokov, now TradingView’s CEO, says. “You still have to call a trading firm or somebody who understands it so they can explain it to you.”
Having solved that problem with new technology, the TradingView team wanted to light a fire of growth, not wait for a slow-burn success as they had with MultiCharts. While CEO Dennis Globa was already living in Columbus, Ohio, the rest of the team was back in Russia, looking for a way to get in front of the right American markets. That’s when they were accepted to TechStars Chicago.
Compared to other teams who sought help with building business, TradingView needed TechStars Chicago to accelerate. Bokov, who spent his adolescence in Canada and is a citizen of that country, spent four months in Chicago for the program. Today, he lives permanently in Russia and travels back and forth as necessary.
After TechStars, the team raised $440,000 from local Angels and local and coastal VCs, and is now setting up permanent shop in 1871. Bokov says the company is looking to close a bridge round this week, then hold off on funding until the new year. In the meantime, he wants to hire a Director of Marketing, then beef up marketing and business development staff. Currently, TradingView’s main form of marketing is the interactive charting widget Bokov gives away for free to sites such as Wall St. Cheat Sheet.
Bootstrapped until recently, TradingView is an attractive company for investors looking for loyal customers. Currently, the site receives 30,000 visits a day (a figure Bokov hopes to grow tenfold by next spring) and the average visit lasts over 50 minutes. Can you think of many sites other than Facebook that command that kind of attention?
But feeding the hunger of the non-professional stock fanatics that frequent TradingView doesn’t come cheap. Between paying for developers, servers and hosting, and purchasing the huge swaths of data that make the site so compelling, costs are high.
Still, Bokov says TradingView is already halfway to break-even — not bad for being just over two years into the game. Currently, the company charges for premium subscriptions and purchases from its app store, which allow users to add different features to their charts. Like the Apple Store, TradingView takes a 30 percent cut of any app store purchase.
Soon, the introduction simulated trading — think Monopoly money for exploring how various investments will perform — should attract more users, Bokov says. The concept isn’t unique, since many brokers offer similar tools, but the fact that you can use it for free is. “I’d love to see what happens if I bought $50,000 worth of Twitter right now, but I’m not going to risk my own money,” says Bokov.
Instead, he’s putting all his chips on TradingView. Over the next six months, Bokov wants to see “explosive growth.” That means building out partnerships with the likes of the Economic Times of India (the second-largest provider of financial data in the world, behind the Wall Street Journal), EDGAR (the SEC’s data gather, analysis and retrieval system) and Microsoft. With such collaborations, Bokov hopes to see TradingView erupt in popularity and, hopefully, fundability as well.