This interview is part of our Future of Fintech series where we interview disrupters in the space. Avi Lele is the CEO and Co-Founder of Stockpile.com. They’ve raised over $15M to disrupt how kids invest in their future.
The Stockpile Story
When I sat down with Avi in Palo Alto to learn more about his story, he plopped five cards down on the table.
“I made it easy for people to gift stocks to their friends and family, regardless of age. The same way you would buy a $25 gift card to Amazon or iTunes, you can buy a $25 gift card to your favorite stocks like Apple, Tesla and Amazon. You can buy it at Safeway right now.”
That’s all I needed to see, and I was immediately hooked.
I was interested in Avi’s story and his thoughts about the future of fintech.
Here’s the interview with Avi:
How did you come up with this idea?
A few Christmases ago, I was shopping for my nieces and nephews and thought, wouldn’t it be neat to give them some stock in their favorite companies instead of more stuff that they’d just play with a couple of times and forget about?
So I went to a traditional brokerage and started the process, but it was such a hassle, I gave up. I needed to know each kid’s Social Security Number and I also needed a few thousand dollars just to open each account. And then I made the mistake of asking my sister what stocks she thought they might like, and she rattled off names like Apple and Google, which were hundreds of dollars a share. So I went back to the toy store that year, but I couldn't get it out of my mind. And that’s how Stockpile was born.
What is your end goal with this product? Is it gift cards, or is this an acquisition strategy?
We brought our gift cards to the market to make it really easy to get started with investing. It can be intimidating and expensive to get started – so much so that 86% of American adults have never bought an individual stock. But almost the same percentage – 93% – have had a gift card go through their hands.
Everyone knows how a gift card works, so we put the stock market on a gift card. Just enter the scratch-off code at our website or on the app, sign up or sign in, and you’ve got stock! No instruction manual needed.
What is your mission? Is it financial literacy for young children? Is it to create a simpler way for the masses to invest?
Our mission is to make it easy and affordable for anyone to invest for their future. This includes young people, even kids and teens. There are lots of don’ts when it comes to investing – don’t day trade, don’t speculate, don’t panic – but one “do” is to start early.
If you invest the same amount of money 5 or 10 years earlier, it makes a huge difference in terms of how much you’ll end up with. So whether you’re 40 and don’t want to wait until you’re 50, or 15 and don’t want to wait until you’re 25, we’re here to help.
How will the future of fintech affect young children? When they get older, how will their interaction with banks and other financial institutions be different than it is now?
Young people expect a lot from the products and services they use. They expect a simple, clean user experience. They expect instant gratification. And they vote with their feet if they don’t get those things. I think banks and other financial institutions are going to have to get with the program because their current experiences don’t rate very well on these criteria, which the next generation of consumers crave.
What opportunities would you like to explore with updated versions of the product?
We have a deep product roadmap that includes some amazing things that have never been done before in brokerage. Stay tuned!
Avi grew up in Tennessee and Massachusetts. After receiving engineering degrees from MIT and a J.D. from Harvard, Avi practiced law for 16 years at Ropes & Gray and Kirkland & Ellis. Avi lives in Palo Alto, where you'll often find him and his wife, Anuja, cheering on their kids' sports teams or biking to some hole-in-the-wall restaurant. He holds the Series 7, Series 24, and Series 63 licenses.