Ben Chemla CEO of Shares and Lloyd Wahed of Mana Search met to discuss how Shares is making share dealing a social activity and how Ben has learnt how to grow a company fast in a new market.
The idea for Shares came from social investing, seeing friends chatting about their ideas and sharing views, having fun and learning from each other. He saw the opportunity to enable communities around making a safe space to explore opportunities with friends, sharing portfolio activity in real time.
Ben uses a comparison with Strava, which informs the community you connect with about the route you took and what you found, but you choose what you share and with whom, and for those that share that interest it’s compelling and often inspiring.
Like many entrepreneurs, Ben studied law but didn’t want to make it his career, however, his creative spark surfaced at university as he created the student association at Le Sorbonne. Creativity has driven Ben to want to build things, he has surrounded himself with the best people to learn from and he is interested in all parts of the business. Solving problems is a creative act and seeing how the whole organic structure functions allows him to use that talent.
It’s vital to keep learning and Ben learnt very early on about the type of investors who could support him in the best way, and he clearly thrives in the company of those who can give him the benefit of their experience. The result is that Shares is only 8 months old, they have achieved their first raise, they have 60 employees, and the ambition, vision and belief come from Ben and everyone they hire. Each member of staff needs to demonstrate Ambition, the ability to Impact, the ability to take Ownership and think globally. They want to do business across the EU from March next year, they will add the UK imminently, and they expect to raise every 6 months.
Ben uses a chess analogy of thinking 5 steps ahead all the time, and part of making that work is building a strong community as a foundation to rapid growth. Every opportunity to publicise and play their part in the democratising of finance will be taken. He wants his people to have strong views, to be able to express them, but also to be able to listen to each other and understand their contribution and to be happy with the result of an exchange if it is the best way forward. No obstructive ego, learning is about being open to the ideas of others.
Ben talks about what he learnt of the intensity of the US tech and scale-up scene, and how taking a global view from day one works so well there. This company is very ambitious and Ben is leading the team at a fast rate to a prestigious position in a market they are helping to create.