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.
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 there are 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.
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.