Fredericton Startup Partners With National Firm To Help People Manage Their Own Investments
FREDERICTON – A Fredericton-based startup has partnered with national company Questrade to help people manage their investments.
Passiv helps people manage their investments and save money for retirement. It was a tool initially conceived by Brendan Wood, one of the co-founders, when he decided to manage his own investments after not having success with investing in a mutual fund with his employer.
He found that the process became “too tedious,” says Brendan Lee Young, Passiv’s other co-founder.
“[It was] just a lot of stuff that could be automated and simpler, and so he built the script. He built it to solve his problem and he thought, ‘maybe others in my family or friends could benefit from using this,’” said Lee Young.
However, his friends didn’t understand coding language and asked him to build a dashboard where they could easily manage their investments.
Wood met Lee Young, and after realizing they are both passionate about investing, they posted Wood’s tool on a discussion website and it became popular.
“That went to, ‘mmm, maybe there’s something there.’ snowballed us into starting the company,” said Lee Young.
Lee Young and Wood didn’t have a lot of money to put into the business at the time and were doing it all during their spare time.
A year later, they both work full-time in Passiv, their team expanded to six members in the U.S. and Canada, and they’ve partnered with a large broker in Canada.
Lee Young says Passiv reached out to Questrade because its mission of doing the right thing for its clients aligns with Passiv’s mission.
Since the partnership was formed, Passiv’s user base has expanded to thousands across Canada.
“It’s been growing exponentially since we partnered with them,” said Lee Young. “We are just getting so much engagement from all users – it’s kind of crazy.”
He says the partnership with Questrade has made audiences trust the start-up more.
“That was a big thing for us in our early days. Even though we were growing, people said, ‘I don’t trust you guys, you are some Joe Blow from the internet, why should I trust you?’ Now that we are partnering with Questrade, people can feel more confident knowing that we’ve been vetted, we are a partner [with an established company],” he said.
Lee Young believes that communication is the key to helping their clients. The team is always monitoring feedback, and the partnership with Questrade, says Lee Young, has allowed them to stay focused on their users while exploring partners outside of Canada.
“If it’s one thing we want to do right, it’s helping our users, so this partnership with Questrade gives us more users and we get to learn from the experience and build Passiv to our vision in terms of how we’d like to help people. That’s based on the feedback from users,” he said.
During Passiv’s first year, Lee Young and Wood invested their own money in the company.
“I ate a lot of Ramen noodles for the first [year],” said Lee Young.
Passiv has also received funding from the Government of New Brunswick’s Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour One-Job Pledge program when Brendan Kam joined the team a year and a half ago, and from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program.
They didn’t want to accept investments from family and friends until they had a partnership with Questrade.
“It was such a big source of validation that we felt confident enough to circle back to our friends who wanted to invest in us and say, ‘now you can invest because we know that we have a partner that is interested, they are going to help us grow,’ ” said Lee-Young. “I think when you’re dealing with money from friends and family… you have a responsibility to not just take their money because they believe in you.”
Creating a Passiv account is free, and people can choose to upgrade it to Elite for $40 if they have a Questrade account or $60 to enable even more functions. Passiv and Questrade have also produced a webinar for people who don’t understand financial language but are still interested in investing that explains how investing and Passiv work.
Now, Passiv is looking at finalizing a partnership with a broker in the United States that offers global services by the end of the summer. Lee Young says they would support the platform as an application programming interface (API) partner.
“It’s not just the U.S., it’s in different parts of the world, all the countries that are operating with them,” he said. “It’s exciting. That’s what’s next for us.”