StockPile CEO and Founder Chats With Positive Phil- Now You Can Buy Stock Gift Cards
This company was recently funded 15 Million. Avi Lele is the founder and CEO of Stockpile, the company that introduced the world’s first gift card of stock and is bringing unprecedented access for all to the financial markets. After a frustrating experience trying to give stock to his nieces and nephews for the holidays, Avi created Stockpile. Congrats on their investment round….Ashton Kutcher …Sequoia Capital, among the few.
Avi grew up in Cookeville, TN and Burlington, MA. After studying engineering at MIT and law at Harvard, Avi practiced law for more than 15 years at Ropes & Gray and Kirkland & Ellis. A few Christmases ago, Avi wanted to give his kids, nieces, and nephews stock in their favorite brands, but gave up because it was such a hassle — then he created Stockpile. Avi holds the Series 7, 24, and 63 licenses.
We chat about…
- Why did you start Stockpile?
- Why is it so hard for people to own stock?
- What stocks are top sellers so far?
- Where can people buy the gift cards?
- Do you sell e-cards?
- What do you want people to know about Stockpile that we haven’t covered yet today?
Fintech startup Stockpile is transforming the way people access the financial markets and has the potential to disrupt the stock brokerage industry with its groundbreaking innovation. The Palo Alto, California-based company has made it possible to buy gift cards for stock in stores, and it also offers ultra low-cost brokerage services if you want to buy and sell stocks yourself using their platform. By enabling fractional ownership of stock and simplifying the process of opening an account, Stockpile has opened up the world of the stock market to far more Americans.
Stockpile was founded in 2010 by Avi Lele and Sanjeev Kulkarni. Avi Lele, who currently serves as CEO, studied engineering at MIT and law at Harvard before going on to practice law for 16 years. Sanjeev Kulkarni has mathematics and engineering degrees from Clarkson, Stanford, and MIT and is currently Dean of the Graduate School at Princeton University.
The founders decided that they wanted to set up their own brokerage platform and in the early years of the company a substantial amount of time was spent obtaining the necessary regulatory approval from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Sequoia Capital and Ashton Kutcher were among early investors and in October of 2015 Stockpile received a $15 million Series A round of funding led by Mayfield Fund.
How Stockpile Works
Stockpile enables users to give stock as a gift using both cards bought in stores or digital cards bought online. The platform also allows investors to buy and sell stock for themselves. Stockpile gift cards in stores may have the name of a particular stock and dollar value on them, for example, $25 of Facebook, Inc. (FB) stock. Cards allowing the recipient to choose the companies they want to invest in are also available.
In stores, cards come in denominations of $25, $50, and $100. When purchasing stock as a gift online rather than in a store, users can buy any dollar amount between $1 and $1,000. Stockpile has partnered with Blackhawk Network Holdings, Inc. (HAWK), a company that that distributes gift cards in stores across the United States ranging from Safeway to Toys “R” Us.
Gift cards are redeemed by going to the Stockpile website, entering a 12-digit claim code on the card and signing up for a free Stockpile account. When the recipient redeems the gift card, Stockpile uses the stock’s closing price that day in making the conversion to stock. For example, if the closing price of a stock is $50 and the recipient redeems a $25 gift card the same day, the card will convert to 0.5 shares of the company. The recipient gets fractional or whole shares of stock in a SIPC-insured brokerage account. Minors can own stock as long as there is an adult on the account with them.
Once consumers have set up accounts, they can buy, sell and trade their shares like they might with any other brokerage firm. But unlike most other brokerages, Stockpile’s fees are lighter than most traditional brokerages. Stock trades cost just 99 cents, there are no minimum balances or monthly fees, and it costs nothing to transfer money in from other accounts.
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