As opposed to the US where a good percentage of the population is used to investing in the stock market, Latin Americans are only now experimenting with this asset class. In fact, according to startup Startbull, less than 4% of households in Latin America are investing in their country’s stock market. Startbull aims to change this state of affairs by offering simulated stock trading as well as a specialized social network for its users to connect.
Similar to companies such as Stockpickr in the states, users will be able to connect with each other and discuss the latest news on their favorite equities. Stockpickr was acquired in 2007 by financial information portal, The Street, in order to augment the company’s own publishing strategy. Since then, Stockpickr has grown to more than 150,000 members who have access to the company’s Stock Idea Network for discussing stock ideas. Startbull currently has close to 2800 users mostly in Chile and Colombia.
According to co-founder Santiago Pineda, the company’s stated goal is to become the “financial Facebook of Latin America” and started with the goal of democratizing financial knowledge. The founders feel that, by creating tools that allow individuals to share and discuss financial experience and, in the process, becoming educated in financial matters by tapping into the collective knowhow of others. The current beta version offers a stock and foreign exchange purchasing simulation program for some of the key markets in the region, which include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Colombia and Peru.
The company’s founders are originally from Colombia although the company was selected in 2011 for the StartUp Chile program, which helped them launch initial versions of the software. The founders continue to look for top level mentoring as evidenced by their becoming a finalist during the Red Innova competition in Brazil as well as with Brazilian accelerator 21212.
The current economic climate, says he was never more secure and attractive to invest in Latin America. It is therefore timely to introduce cultural change of local investors to invest in a region traditionally skilled and talented entrepreneur.