It’s been an intensive few months for the Montreal startup Hardbacon.
In addition to getting their app ready to launch in Canada, the team has spent the past three months in Charlotte, North Carolina taking part in the Queen City Fintech accelerator.
The first startup from Montreal, as well as the first Canadian startup, to take part in the Fintech-focused US program, Hardbacon completed their Demo Day last week and expect their app to be approved in the App Store Canada any day now.
“It’s amazing,” Hardbacon founder Julien Brault told MTlinTECH. “The cool thing is that being specialized, you have access to the right experts. In Montreal I have my network and I know people who can help me. But the problem is that, even with a lot of experienced entrepreneurs who can give very valuable advice, I was spending time explaining the space I was in as well as our business model and the regulatory landscape. I was wasting lots of time getting them to understand the business. Being in a banking city in a program that’s specialized in fintech, it takes 20 seconds to convey what we’re doing, and then we can talk about the more specific issues.”
The idea for the app was born out of Brault’s own frustrations as a self-directed investor.
“It’s really for empowering people who are self-directed investors. It’s not a robot advisor that manages your money and makes the decision. It’s just a tool that makes it easier to make those decisions.”
“I had a platform I used myself as an investor, and those types of platforms come from another age and are horrible. I felt like I could build a better platform for investing online.”
The first idea was to launch another brokerage, but Brault quickly pivoted.
— Hardbacon (@hardbaconca) November 24, 2017
“It didn’t take me long to realize that didn’t make sense financially, it was super complicated. It’s actually much more complicated in Canada to launch a brokerage than in the US. Then it kind of evolved into being a smart layer on top of the existing brokerage.”
Part of what attracted Brault to attending the Queen City accelerator in the first place was it’s connection to mentors familiar with the American regulatory landscape.
“We always wanted to go into the United States. It’s the largest brokerage market in the world, and it’s also the same financial market that Canadians invest in.”
The US market is already extremely competitive in the fintech space, as well as having different regulations.
“One of the mentors was a chief compliance officer, and he told us a lot about regulation, which led to us deciding to register with the SEC and register as an investment advisor for the US market. I didn’t know what the path was to conquer the US market before going, I just knew it made sense to launch it down there. I think I could have gotten there with doing a lot of research, but I don’t think we would have had the same amount of progress in three months. It really just helped me position myself.”
The app, which is set to launch any day in Canada with plans to launch in the US next year, is a subscription service for $5/month.
“In Canada, it’s pretty unique to be honest. What we’re doing is connecting to all your investment accounts, and then with that data we display all your investments in one place. You can have all of the information you need on each of your positions. There’s a lot of stuff that sounds like it would be obvious that a brokerage firm would do, but it’s not. For example, we’re going to convert it in Canadian and tell you how much in fees you pay. And then we’ll have the portfolio with eight different indicators, and reporting as well.”
Click here to be the first to know when the app is available for download.