Shares raises $40 million for its social investment app

Shares has closed a $40 million Series A funding round led by Valar Ventures. The company has been working on a mobile app that lets you easily buy and sell shares, but with a social twist. You can follow your friends’ moves and talk with other users directly from the app.

Today, the company is also launching its app on the App Store and Google Play. It is only available to people based in the U.K. for now, but the company expects to expand to other European countries in the future.

Valar Ventures already participated in the company’s $10 million seed round. This time, Valar Ventures is leading the Series A with other existing investors Singular, Global Founders Capital and Red Sea Ventures putting more money in the company.

In other words, Shares wants to execute quickly. It has raised a total of $50 million in just nine months. The startup now has 130 full-time employees in London, Paris and Krakow.

Shares thinks that they’re still too many barriers to entry if you want to get started and invest in public companies. In particular, Shares wants to make stock trading more accessible from a financial point of view and less daunting thanks to social features.

The startup ticks all the right boxes for a new trading service. It is a mobile-first experience meaning that new users only have to download a new app and follow the instructions to create an account.

Image Credits: Shares

Users can buy fractional shares — they can get started with £1.00. There are no trading fees but there could be some spread between the buy and sell price. According to the trading terms, Shares currently partners with Alpaca Securities LLC, which acts as the execution broker.

But Shares doesn’t just want to offer an alternative to Freetrade, Trade Republic or Bitpanda. In addition to stock trading, Shares users can discuss investments with friends and family members.

Users can create discussion groups and share their financial thoughts with other users. There is also a sort of investment feed that looks like Venmo’s social feed. From that tab, you can see when your friends buy and sell shares. You can also like a post and write comments.

While Venmo’s social feed isn’t particularly useful, an activity feed for stock trading makes more sense. It’s going to be interesting to see if adding those features directly in the trading app will be enough to lure people away from WhatsApp and Telegram investment groups.

Shares is a new stock trading app with a focus on social features

Meet Shares, a new European startup that wants to add a social twist to financial investment — in that case, the company means ‘social’ as in ‘social network’. The startup has been developing its product under the radar for a few months already. It is also moving at a fast pace. It has assembled a team of 35 people and raised $10 million in a pre-product seed round.

Shares sent me a few details about what you should expect from the trading platform and why it’s different from what’s out there. Essentially, the startup combines two important trends.

First, stock trading has been moving to mobile and a few tech companies have been working on well-designed trading platforms to appeal to a new set of users. That shift is well underway in the U.S. as Robinhood has managed to attract tens of millions of users.

In Europe, it’s been a different story as the European market is still fragmented with a handful of stock-trading apps slowly expanding to new markets. Those companies include Freetrade, Trade Republic, Bitpanda and, to a certain degree, Revolut.

The second big investment trend of the past couple of years is that investment has become a social activity. Evidence of this lies in the GameStop short squeeze that occurred back in January 2021. In other words, people like to talk about stocks on Reddit, Discord, Telegram groups and more.

With Shares, users will be able to trade 1,500 stocks with no-minimum, no-fees access. You’ll be able to buy fractional shares and start investing with £1.00 in your Shares account. With such a low barrier to entry, the startup wants to convince first-time investors as the vast majority of people don’t own individual stocks. Shares plans to comply with KYC and AML regulation (‘Know Your Customer’ and ‘Anti-Money Laundering’).

But the app will offer more than just an interface to buy and sell shares. Users will be able to start conversations with friends, learn from experts and access market intelligence data. Shares will also feature some information to learn more about investing, tax, regulation and compliance. The most intriguing feature will be the ability to create group stock indexes with friends.

The startup was co-founded by Benjamin Chemla and François Ruty. Among other things, Benjamin Chemla previously co-founded Stuart, a last-mile logistics company that was acquired by La Poste in 2017.

They have already raised $10 million in a seed round led by Singular. Valar Ventures, Global Founders Capital and Red Sea Ventures also participated in the funding round. The startup has also partnered with some strategic advisors, including Freetrade co-founder André Mohamed.

That’s an impressive seed round for a fintech company that isn’t live yet. With a team of 35 people, it’s clear that Shares wants to move fast. It’s going to be interesting to see how online communities react when the app goes live.