New Aussie share-trading startup Superhero has burst into the market with a fresh $8 million in capital, some of which is from the biggest tech names in the country.
The Sydney-based startup is headed up by wealth management veteran John Winters, and Booktopia chief technology officer Wayne Baskin, who previously sat on the advisory board for Aussie buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) giant Afterpay.
The funding round is led by Larry Diamond, founder and chief of BNPL fintech Zip, and also includes backing from early Zip investor Garen Azoyan, and Leon Zweir, a senior partner at law firm Arnold Block Leibler.
Philip Crutchfield, the chair of Zip, has also invested, and has joined Superhero as non-executive chair.
Afterpay founder and chief Nick Molnar also backed the business in a previous seed round.
The startup intends to disrupt the online investment industry in Australia by making the whole experience more transparent and accessible, as well as offering a $5 flat fee.
While there are a few platforms around offering investors access to US-listed stocks, Superhero is designed to give Aussie investors access to Aussie-listed businesses.
“No one has really focused on Australia, on really reinventing the value proposition or the user experience for Australia, for ASX-listed shares,” co-founder and chief John Winters tells SmartCompany.
“We see that as a much bigger opportunity for Aussie investors than immediately going offshore.”
A generational shift
While Superhero officially takes flight today, the co-founders have been building the product for the past two-and-a-half years, Winters says.
They didn’t anticipate, however, launching in the middle of a pandemic.
“It’s an interesting moment in history,” Winters says.
The pandemic has led to more people using fintech tools, and share-trading platforms such as Robin Hood in the US have seen increased traction.
“We certainly didn’t set out to launch in the middle of this massive period of growth,” Winters adds.
“It’s just a fortuitous moment for us that we can launch at a point like this.”
We’re at a turning point in the way people approach financial management, Winters says.
And it’s not a “blip”. It’s a generational, structural shift in the way people invest.
“Millennials are smarter than a lot of people make out,” the founder says.
“We know what we’re doing. We know where we want to get to.”
This is a tool both for experienced traders and for the newcomers that may have been dabbling with top-up investment tools such as Raiz. Either way, there’s a demand for the kind of accessibility tech tools can provide, Winters says.
“This whole COVID period has sped that whole digitisation process up.”
Friends in high places
This latest funding follows on from an earlier seed round, which included backing from Afterpay founder Nick Molnar, although Winters doesn’t disclose the value of that raise.
And, while Winters admits having the founders of both Afterpay and Zip involved is impressive, their involvement hasn’t exactly come out of the blue.
“Firstly, they love the concept, they love the brand, they love everything that we’re about,” he says.
But, the founders have also had relationships with both Molnar and Diamond for some time.
In fact, while he was working at wealth management firm Shaw and Partners, it was Winters that drove Zip’s IPO, he says.
Superhero co-founder Baskin also sat on the Afterpay board for a long time, “and knows Nick [Molnar] very well”, Winters adds.
And all of the investors bring something to the table beyond a bit of cash. These are some of Australia’s most successful founders of high-growth fintechs.
“They’ve got very large customer bases, and we want to follow in the same footsteps,” Winters says.
“If we can leverage some of their learnings over the journey, I think we’ll be better placed.”