Investment business can be a bit overwhelming and the key to succeed in the field of investments is to start early. We are extremely happy to have Josh Gelinas, the CEO of Vestivise, a fin-tech company that helps people plan out their invesment strategies. Check out this interview where Josh talks about his venture and more:
1. So Josh, tell us a bit about yourself
I’m currently the CEO of Vestivise, a financial technology company that I started with my cofounder in June 2016. I turned twenty last summer, which was one year after I moved to New York City to attend NYU. I’m currently on leave from my senior year of college to dedicate myself to the company. Startups are exceptionally hard, and I knew I couldn’t fully succeed at school and Vestivise at the same time. I’m sure I’ll go back someday.
2. You currently live in New York City, which is like the ultimate American dream for anyone. Was this your dream?
It absolutely was a dream of mine. I remember setting my computer wallpaper to the Manhattan skyline during my freshman year of high school in Austin, Texas. I loved thinking about the cities I wanted to live in someday. New York captured my attention the most, especially after visiting for the first time in the summer of 2013. It’s such a prominent icon of American life, and its global influence is deeper and wider than any other city in the United States. I transferred from the University of Texas at Austin to come to NYU not only for the city but also because for a career in finance, there is no better place on earth.
3. What was the idea behind Vestivise?
Vestivise started because I saw how difficult it was for my parents to understand their investments. Back in high school, I developed a fascination with finance, and I learned all I could about the subject. This journey led me to start asking questions about my parent’s retirement accounts. That experience showed me the many problems with the reports provided by financial institutions. A big part of the issue is that most of these reports go to people without a lot of financial knowledge.
4. The story behind a company’s name is always something interesting to know about. How did you come up with the name Vestivise?
That’s an interesting story. I was at a talk with a cofounder of FanDuel. One of my team members and I were discussing possible names before the event, and I continued thinking about it during the talk. I was exploring different variations of the word “investment” when I came up with Vestivise. It is the combination of “invest” and “advise.” It finally arose from that long brainstorming sessions that contained many misfires.
When I said “Vestivise”, I didn’t believe it would be available—it was. And a quick search showed that we would own the whole front page of Google because there was no other company name that was similar. To this day, I think we got lucky, especially in the investment industry.
5. You are quite young for being in the investment business. How has the journey been so far?
I’ve heard that the finance industry doesn’t look kindly upon youth. I guess when you look at how companies treat the new investment banking recruits, that makes sense. However, since finance is only one-half of that FinTech (financial technology) equation, I choose to take the technology industry’s viewpoint on youth. In my experience so far, being young and innovating in finance is exactly where I want to be because creating new solutions that do away with the status quo of confusion and opacity can best be accomplished through entirely fresh eyes.
6. Any crazy entrepreneurial journey stories?
When I raised our very first round of funding last summer to get the company off the ground, I went to deposit the first checks that arrived. I was already quite concerned because we had our first payment to a data vendor due the next week. The money was supposed to post a few days after depositing, but when I checked the deposit online that same day, I realized that I couldn’t login. It turned out that the checking account was created and then closed during the same week due some issue with the account creation process. Best of all, the bank decided they would be keeping the money for 30 days before returning it.
Startup fundraising is hard. It’s even harder when you must tell your investors who just placed their trust in you to submit a stop payment request on the money and to send the capital again. Not to mention that a major invoice was due the same week. I would say that I’ve earned a degree in last-minute investor money hustling. It’s the only way the bills get paid on time when you’re in that nascent pre-revenue stage.
7. What is your future vision for Vestivise?
Vestivise will expand beyond our current product offering (Investment Dashboard) to go even deeper into investor portfolio analytics. From there, we can build the industry’s most widely-used one-stop shop for investment transparency. I want to stay away from building too much too quickly, and double down on the initial bet we made at the start. We believe that the millions and millions of retirement investors out there lack a practical and easy to use way to get the full-picture of their portfolio’s assets, returns, risks, and costs. Ensuring users understand their investments is most important to us, so we will continue to refine the educational components of Vestivise. Lastly, once a full understanding is achieved, investors will want to know: what should I do now? We have some fresh ideas to answer that question in the future that will hopefully build multiple revenue streams for the company.
8. What advice would you give for people in their 20s related to making investments?
First, keep your fees low. There are just so many super low-cost index funds and ETFs out there that are passively managed and almost always beat actively managed investments. Second, take risks! Obviously, these need to be smart risks, but investing exclusively in stock funds, for example, to take advantage of the long-term potential of compound interest is completely reasonable in your early to mid-twenties.
9. Who are the wizards working behind the magic happening on Vestivise and what does a typical day at Vestivise look like?
My entire team met at NYU, and many of them are now finishing up the last semester of their senior year. You wouldn’t know it when you look at the amazing work they’ve all done. Each member adds something that we couldn’t live without. Our CTO and my cofounder is a full-stack developer who can pretty much build anything and solve any problem. It truly amazes me. Our Data Scientist can bend numbers to his will—he wrote most of the algorithms for the dashboard. Our Finance Director knows how to really stretch capital and in some dire situations, just simply make money appear. However, his work goes far beyond finance, as I rely on his opinion in many marketing and product areas as well.
A typical day, now that we have the product built and launched, consists of our product team solving issues that arise and improving technological infrastructure. On the business side, our current focus is marketing to acquire free users and preparing for our next round of funding that we hope to close at the end of this upcoming summer.
10. Apart from work what are your hobbies?
I’m a big a fan of the NFL. I love watching the New York Giants—even when they lose in the playoffs. I’m also really into the New York City restaurant scene.
11. Any message for our readers?
There is no better way to build wealth than starting to invest young and diligently monitoring your investments overtime. And, of course, sign up for Vestivise regardless of how long you’ve been an investor!
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