How TradeHero Is Democratizing Stock Trading For Asia’s Middle Class

TECHINASIA: In the past, Tech in Asia has referred to TradeHero as one of the best startups in Singapore. The firm offers an app that lets users trade virtual money based on real-world stock market data. Essentially, it’s a game, but with interesting implications.

On TradeHero, users who are less familiar with how stock markets work can learn how to trade. On top of that, more experienced users can earn money by monetizing their reputation as a talented and well-informed stock trader. This means that one user can subscribe to another user’s feed to know whenever they make a trade or post a comment. This information is valuable because it can then be applied to the real stock market.

“We want to gamify trading,” said TradeHero co-founder and CEO Dinesh Bhatia at Tech in Asia Singapore 2015. “People often ask me, ‘So you think the stock market is all fun and games?’ and I say ‘No, but the best way to teach someone about the stock market is with fun and games.’”

Bhatia got the idea for TradeHero back in 2007 and 2008 when the global economic crisis hit. Although he claims to have only been a hobbyist trader, Bhatia says he lost a great deal of money. According to him, the middle class will always bear the brunt of economic downturn. Because of this, Bhatia says he wanted to take back the power from Wall Street. With TradeHero, users can essentially replicate the behavior of other successful traders many times over, thus empowering and incentivizing TradeHero’s users on both ends.

Resilient investors are a blessing

According to Bhatia, since TradeHero’s inception in January 2013, it gained 3.5 million registered users. Additionally, TradeHero has cracked the Chinese market. “You can’t work remote from Singapore, you’ve got to get your ass to China,” says Bhatia. TradeHero’s first attempt to enter China was via a simple language translation on its app. However, the effort was a flop. Bhatia says:

We were so lucky because when we told our investor KPCB we failed, they said, ‘okay. Now try again.’

TradeHero did try again, but this time it decided to go full force into its localization methods. It was a success, gaining 300,000 new users in China each month. TradeHero is inherently a very disruptive product in the financial sector. The app has built a database of millions of traders and traders-to-be. However, Bhatia says he remains fearful and respectful of Asian markets.

“Sometimes timing is everything,” says Bhatia. “I’m always paranoid about market conditions and if it’s too early. It’s like that saying: ‘What’s the difference between a rich genius and a poor genius? A rich genius is thinking two months ahead of time. A poor genius is thinking two years ahead of time.”