A self-taught stock investor in Tampa and his business partner want to help other people learn how to better manage their money.
Jerel Jordan and Anthony Mason have launched Whyze, an online learning website for personal finance.
“Ultimately, we want Whyze to be the No. 1 resource for financial education, advice and connections to services. We want to be the Amazon of money,” said Jordan, co-founder and CEO.
Jordan and Mason, co-founder and chief technology officer, rolled out Whyze just before just before Startup Week Tampa Bay in early February, and they were part of the Startup Showcase at the event. But they are moving the company to Atlanta in March to leverage connections Jordan has at Georgia Tech, where he received his MBA.
“Also there are a good amount of accelerator/startup battle/funding opportunities for fintech companies in that area,” Jordan said.
In launching Whyze, they are taking on better-known names such as NerdWallet and Bankrate. Jordan and Mason plan to use videos and services to distinguish Whyze from those more established websites.
“A lot of our competitors are sticking to text-based media. We feel that’s a mismatch with how the main target market that’s looking for these financial products wants to receive information,” Jordan said.
The Whyze website features videos on investing, college, credit and saving.
“There’s just a lot of things you need to do with your money that you haven’t been taught in school,” Jordan said. “You get out into the world and realize how many complex options there are for your money. When you start your first job, you have a 401(k). You might want to buy some stocks. You need to learn how to budget.”
Existing resources are not helpful, he said
“There’s financial lingo that’s over your head if not a finance professional, or resources that are unorganized or information that doesn’t provide the full picture,” he said. “The main point is you run into resources that are quite frankly boring. They are text-based media, so you don’t like to read a lot, you will give up pretty quickly.”
Jordan cited studies — including the Cisco Visual Networking Index — that show video will represent 82 percent of all internet traffic by 2021.
There are personal finance videos on YouTube. “You have to dig to find those channels. We’re trying to put it all in one place,” Mason said.
Whyze also is differentiating itself by making its platform more engaging.
“We want to build a community. We might have a ranking system or some type leader board, with badges people get when they accomplish a course,” Mason said.
Jordan describes himself as a “finance nerd” who taught himself how to invest in stocks. He handles content creation, designing and animating the videos, and also markets the business.
Mason, with a master’s in computer science from Marquette University, has worked for Cisco and GE, and was a software engineer at GE Aviation in Pinellas Park before leaving to work full-time on Whyze. He focuses on the technology, including the front-end and back-end development of the website.
Mason and Jordan have bootstrapped Whyze, using about $6,000 of their own funds, but are seeking outside funding.
Their primary business model is advertising. They’re looking for sponsorships for the videos and also are creating comparison tools they hope to monetize.
For instance, they plan to have a credit card comparison tool on the website that will provide pros and cons for each card, with a link that will take the user directly to the credit card’s application site. Whyze would get a referral fee from the credit card company.
They also plan to build a section on careers and professional development.
“We could have a service where you meet with a virtual career coach, or someone works on your resume for you,” Jordan said. “Long-term, we want to build an audience in every vertical of personal finance that we can monetize through different financial services.”
Signing up for the site is free, and as of Feb. 12 there were about 130 registered users.
“At this point, one-third or more of our users are people we never met, which validates that we’re creating something that people want. These are not just friends and family that are signing up because they know us. These are people who have a pain point and see this as a potential solution,” Jordan said.
Jordan has his sights set on a global audience.
“If you look at finance from a global standpoint, in a lot of countries the structure is similar to the U.S.,” he said. “We believe that with slight tweaks to the content we have now, people all over will find the information useful.”