David McEwen’s successful 30-year career providing share market investment advice recently received a major booster shot with his newly launched Stockfox app. Now the goal is to be the world’s number one provider of mobile share market services.
More often than not there is a specialist skill that lies behind a business startup. For David McEwen, his business was sparked by a long-held passion for share market and securities analysis.
Early in his career as a business journalist David (pictured below) had completed a post-graduate certificate in securities analysis, with a view to using those skills gained to identify newsworthy facts and trends from public company annual results.
“This was very effective but it then occurred to me that, having the skills to both understand financial concepts and numbers as well as communicate my findin gs in a succinct and understandable way was a rare skill,” recalls David. “As anyone who has tried to read a broking analyst’s report will know.
“This spurred me to start my own business – analysing public companies and advising on the value of their shares, initially through the McEwen Investment Report, which is now in its 24th year of publication, and more recently through the Stockfox app.”
When asked to explain his business’s longevity, David puts it down to persistence and consistency and seeking the right help when needed. “Like many people starting out in business, I may have been good at a few things, in my case analysis and writing, but I knew very little about sales, marketing and branding. You can have the best product in the world but it is hard to sell if nobody knows about it.
“Fortunately, enough people found (the Report) and liked it for me to keep my business around and I now have the resources to employ professionals to do the jobs I cannot.”
Today, a lot of time and energy is going into marketing the Stockfox app and it’s very much a product of, and for, the 21st century, he says.
So how did it come about?
“The idea of producing a newsletter every week or two is a very 20th century one, even if it is now distributed electronically,” says David. “I was encouraged by some considerably younger members of my team to embrace new technology that makes information more rapidly accessible, and in smaller pieces, for the many people who now make share market trades through their phones.
“We have spent over two years building and testing Stockfox and the reaction to date has been excellent, so it appears we are filling a very important gap.”
Trust the professionals
As many entrepreneurs have discovered to their dismay, building an app can take many years and cost millions of dollars to produce, depending on the features and the target market.
However, as a first-timer at app development, David found it invaluable working with experienced professionals who came with plenty of experience in building and launching apps.
“The failure rate of apps is high, although the rewards for those who succeed are massive,” he explains. “So, cutting down on silly, time-consuming activities is very important.”
Judging by the reaction and results so far, David is confident that his new app will have an important impact on the sector’s development and on the people who download and use the app.
“The ability for individuals to make small investments through low-cost trading platforms is already changing the marketplace significantly,” he says. “For those people who have had smartphones since birth and may not even have seen physical currency, the idea of trading intangible items for intangible rewards seems natural, and it is becoming widespread. This is leading to an explosion of trading in alternative assets such as digital currencies and ‘tokens’ – assets such as a virtual property, art works, clothing and even racehorses.
“This will lead to more competition for traditional asset classes such as shares. Therefore, service providers, such as brokers, will have to find ways to make trading more entertaining.”
The future for Stockfox
The BHAG for Stockfox is to be the world’s number one provider of mobile share market advisory and transactional services. Over the next five years, the plan is to launch Stockfox in every country in the world that has an active share market.
“We have proven the concept in New Zealand, and for Stockfox to become a significant business it only requires a small fraction of investors in each country to decide it is in their best interest to pay a few cents a day to obtain quality, proven share market advice,” says David.
He agrees that there will be challenges to overcome.
“Some hurdles we could encounter may involve keeping up with the changing landscape of the share markets and finding ways to become the preferred platform for people to get advice. After all, we are competing against popular social media platforms like Facebook share market discussion groups.
“We will therefore have to keep offering new features in Stockfox and continue to provide a service that can give investors the kind of help, both professional and well-researched, that they can’t get from social media groups.”
There’s no doubting the fact that the Stockfox concept will evolve, he says. “We are working with a number of significant potential partners and developing several exciting new features that will help keep the app fresh and relevant,” says David.
With a heightened interest in shares and share markets around the world, especially among younger people, is seems a safe bet that his app will remain a sound investment.
Story by editor Glenn Baker.