Tampa-based Florida Funders, a venture capital fund and angel investor network, looks to capitalize on the recent, Reddit-driven trend in so-called “retail” investing by supporting vigtec.io, a company that’s behind an app-based “affordable investing discovery platform built for investors of all experience levels,” according to a press release.
Florida Funders invested $250,000 in vigtec.io, which was founded in 2019 and is headquartered in Tampa, although its 15 staff members are scattered around the country. The fund, the release stated, will be used to help the company complete work on its Android mobile app (it’s already available for iOS devices) and data visualization tools, as well as grow its global user base.
Vigtec.io’s platform is aimed at retail or “do-it-yourself” investors who want to trade securities but don’t want to pay fees to an investment advisor or be affiliated with a traditional financial institution. Such investors tend to be very hands-on and actively engaged in managing their own holdings.
Founder and CEO Jonathan Gibbons, speaking to the Catalyst, said Millennial and Generation Z investors, who prize the ability to do everything on their smartphones, have flocked to investing platforms like Robinhood because they offer real-time, commission-free trading via mobile apps. However, he aims to take investment fintech one step further by positioning vigtec.io as “discovery platform,” similar to how Spotify has made it easy for music fans to find out about songs and artists that fit their listening tastes.
In fact, Gibbons sees many parallels between how technology disrupted the music industry and what it’s doing to investing.
“When music went to CDs, they were expensive, like $13, $14 for one CD,” he said. “And then you get iTunes and they let you buy one song for like $1.99. And then you get streaming, and the whole dynamic of the industry changes, because what was expensive is now completely and utterly free, and so the discovery process is now what drives the train — and that’s Spotify.”
When Gibbons first started trading securities on platforms like eTrade, he was paying $5-$10 per trade, which might not sound like a lot to many investors, but for an average Joe with just a couple hundred bucks in his account, it could be seen as a source of frustration or even a barrier to entry.
“Now,” he said, “the trade is free and that has brought so many more people to the table. I can make $100, $200 work.”
And with an entire online world of financial information at their fingertips, novice investors need a discovery and recommendation engine to help guide their investment choices — and that, Gibbons believes, is where vigtec.cio can flourish. He said the platform, after a successful beta process last fall, has “thousands” of users and is generating revenue.
“We’re carving out our ‘alpha’ products and beginning to scale up,” Gibbons said.
In another nod to services like Spotify, the vigtec.io offers both a free and paid version of its platform. The free service allows users to access data and play games designed to make them more knowledgeable about trading securities. When they’re ready to jump in and invest real money, they can upgrade to the premium version for $74.99 per month.
“The free environment is pretty rich,” Gibbons said, adding that vigtec.io gives away information for free that other services charge for. “And then we have the premium level, for [buying and selling] options. You get premium tools on a per-month basis — your natural subscription model. It monetizes out pretty well.”
According to the release, vigtec.io’s real-time exchange data covers more than five million daily options trades, more than 1.3 million daily options contracts, more than one billion data endpoints for over 11,000 stocks and ETFs, as well as 20,000-plus mutual funds.
“Millennials and Gen Z distrust typical financial institutions and at the same time, want to be active managers of their finances. Vigtec.io is bridging the generational shift in investing and delivering the environment these generations seek,” Florida Funders Managing Partner Tom Wallace stated in the release. “We’re excited to be able to get in on the ground floor of this educational, discovery platform that is delivering a new and improved alternative for the future of investing. While the company has a global focus, we’re proud to be alongside them on this journey in Tampa.”