BYU–Hawaii alumnus Kevin Baize said the goal of PersonaFi is to create a community of underdog investors who share their investing insights with each other.
“People want to have control over their money, and they don’t want to spend a lot to have someone manage it,” Baize explained. With the help of PersonaFi, he said people can solve this problem.
He said they hope to improve financial literacy and decrease the number of people intimidated by the stock market. PersonaFi’s motto reads, “Investing doesn’t need to be rocket science.”
Baize said he eventually wants to base his PersonaFi team in Hawaii. They plan to employ BYUH students on the island, he explained, creating a tech hub similar to Silicon Valley, California. He calls it “Silicon Paradise.”
BYUH alumni team
Baize is PersonaFi’s chief technological officer and a local from Kahuku. He said the company’s team is made of many BYUH alumni scattered from Hawaii to Arizona to Japan.
Combining technological skills and financial expertise, the group that runs PersonaFi is an “unstoppable” team, Baize added.
Jeremy Woffinden is a computer science BYUH alumnus who works remotely from Japan as a developer for PersonaFi. He said he appreciates the meaning behind his job because it has “given [him] a great opportunity to work on something meaningful that could change how people invest.” He continued, “I'm excited to see how our work here can help people learn more and bring communities together.”
He said he hopes PersonaFi will extend its reach to his home country of Japan in the next five years because a social investment platform like PersonaFi would help foster a community for new Japanese investors. After using the PersonaFi app, Woffinden said more Japanese citizens will feel educated and confident about investing.
Woffinden shared as an investor, he understands the value of the app. “I would've loved to have something like this when I started investing,” he said, emphasizing how the app has “a community of people who share their strategies and give advice at no cost and with no ulterior motives.”
Filling a need
Baize said the PersonaFi team members conducted an online survey, and from their research, they found the biggest deciding factor for investors is what their friends are buying and selling. This makes investing a social thing, Baize concluded.
To capitalize on this discovery, he said the team created a social investment app. The app, he explained, is like Facebook or Instagram, except it’s all about investing. He said people who join can create circles of friends to share where they are investing their money. Users can decide how much information they want to share, he noted.
The app, Baize said, has all the best aspects of social media: A feed to scroll through, the ability to like and share posts and the chance to view information about companies before investing.
Gaining a following
Baize explained PersonaFi started out as a Facebook group. On the page, people share what they are investing in, ask questions about investing and receive advice on investment practices from the PersonaFi team, he explained.
Baize said from the Facebook group, the company created a “cult,” or a loyal band of followers who support the company, wear the merchandise and invest in its stock. This Facebook group boasts a 90 percent engagement rate with more than 23,000 members, he noted. Baize said they also send out a bi-weekly newsletter to more than 1,400 people.
The next move
Baize said PersonaFi recently started a campaign on Wefunder, which is like Kickstarter, but for investing. He said on Wefunder, people can invest money into PersonaFi before it enters the New York Stock Exchange.
Wefunder allows the company to give their early followers an opportunity to invest in PersonaFi, Baize said. The campaign will help the company receive funds to develop and deliver their products, explained Baize.
The goal for the campaign is to raise $500,000, and they have already earned more than $300,000, Baize shared.
Kenneth Mooso, the chief executive officer of PersonaFi, said they will primarily use the funds they earn to launch the Android version of the app, including developing servers, data and product. •