How I Started an
Investment Tracking App
Hi! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi there! My name is Christian Mitteldorf from Denmark, and I started a one-person company, to follow my dreams of quitting my day job and becoming an entrepreneur.
My business is two-fold: in one part I am creating an app called Stokki. This is the investment tracking app, that I couldn’t find myself anywhere, so I decided to create exactly what I was looking for. I am hoping it will be really useful for other people as well, and is constantly adding new features. My mission is not to get a huge number of users, but rather to build a really amazing app that fits well into the Apple ecosystem. The app is monetized, and I work towards making it profitable.
Secondly, i am running a blog and website where i write and tech about personal finance and how to invest. So you can see these two project are very related, and my entire business revolves around teaching better investing, and providing great tools for investors.
Now, I am involved project with someone else, to create a new app for tracking your personal finances and assisting you in the journey of becoming financially independent.
What is your personal story and how did you come up with the idea?
My professional background is software engineering, and I have a special passion for apps on the Apple-platforms. It’s all I do.
Currently, my full-time job is also iOS engineering for Denmark’s largest app: MobilePay, doing mobile payments for 5 mil users. So I am working full time and trying to build up a company on the side, as well as juggling everything else in life.
Naturally, my biggest hobbies are investing and doing company research, as well as fooling around with new technologies i might use in future app projects. Beside that I enjoy running, cycling and i play Poker quite a lot online, to build yet another income stream.
I am always trying to figure out better ways to teach people about investing intelligently, and my blog contains content to help people learn. The app however is to track the investments you already own, or help you look for new companies. There are tons of apps out there that already does this, so how is mine different?
Well,I always felt all the other apps are way too cluttered with various features, and poorly designed, so it was really hard to use productively. Often they were focusing a lot on tools for “technical investors” like advanced charts etc. And that’s just not something I believe in, or think the average investor would ever need. That’s why I set out to build the investing app for “regular humans”.
What challenges did you face when creating your product/service?
I think the biggest challenges has been doing everything myself, and also having to research and learn how to optimally do marketing, promotion, and things like that. All the things surrounding the business is not my core competencies, but it had to be done.
On a personal level, it’s hard to build up a business when you are already working a full-time job. You have to take the time to work on it and take it seriously every day. If you really want this, I promise it’s going to happen, but it takes work.
I did have a major setback just before releasing my app to the public, that my data-provider suddenly shut down, and I had to delay the release and find a new provider. That all turned out well, but it was a challenge.
Who is your target market?
For both products, my target audience is mostly people in the age group of 18-40 as they are most active investors out there, from what i’ve seen so far. The app and blog is not specifically target towards any particular group and would be relevant for all kinds of people.
Sadly the industry is mostly filled by males, and i want to increase the knowledge for women too, but i don’t do anything specifically for any gender.
The app, however, is deliberately not including any technical analysis features, and will not, so it is targeting the ones that look at the fundamentals, digs down in the annual reports and numbers.
How do you market your business and which approaches have been the most successful?
I don’t have any real marketing actually, at this point. One of the reasons is again, that I am just a single person, and my budget is essentially zero.
Since you launched, what has worked in not only attracting but retaining customers?
I think being personal and really relating to your users/customers is absolutely essential. It does not matter much to me to get thousands of followers or users, if they are not engaged and enthusiastic about the product or service that I offer. I want to connect and be close to them, as only the loyal customers are the ones bringing in the money, and gives the best long-term relationships.
If you have the right customers, profits will follow.
What kind of culture exists in your company, and how did you establish it?
Again, being a one-man band does not require a lot of culture. What I do want to establish should we ever expand, is complete trust, openness and being humble about who we are. We want to be proud and passionate about what we do.
Work should feel as lovely and comfortable as being home. A business is nothing but a family working closely together.
What software, services or tools do you use within your business?
I try to keep everything very very simple, as i am just one person. Though i do love to play around with lots of different task tools, and systems.
My primary task manager is Todoist, coupled with time-blocking on my calendar.
For general project management, I have come to really enjoy Clubhouse. I am used to using JIRA at my day-job, and like that too. But given that I’m just starting up, I needed something cheap, and Clubhouse is free. Now I really enjoy it, and it suits all my needs.
My website is built using static HTML generated from Markdown files — no WordPress!
I also have Office365 for email, DNS, and various things.
What are the most important lessons have you learned on your business journey?
Share your progress along the way, and launch early to get the feedback you need. Listen to your customers and really shape the products after what they’re asking and what you think could really help them.
Your business is not about you. If you’re not doing what you do for your customers, you should do something else.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
To teach and help others live better lives. And to be able to build a business around that, that gives me the choice and control to work for myself, instead of a big company.
I have found out that I don’t work well in a large company, and I vastly prefer to work with a very small group of people, to stay in control and work on what we want.
What is your LEAST favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
At this point, my least favorite aspect is that everything has to be done by me, and I have no one to bounce ideas with or help me build the product.
Now, this is half the truth, cause i do have my new partner to build a new project, and my girlfriend has been very helpful in reviewing my work, helping with designs and generally being extremely supportive and understanding.
Besides that, there is a very big community for investing and FIRE, as well as in app-development on Twitter, so this has been a great place to find inspiration and help.
What books, podcasts or other resources have inspired and influenced your business journey?
Well, the primary inspiration for this interest of investing has been Warren Buffett and what he has accomplished so far in his company. He is such an honest and humble person and I strive to build a culture like that, with just a few key people.
The letters he writes, and the books about him, and investing, in general, is where I have found the content to write about on my blog, and as such, they have been very inspiring and eye-opening, to the extent that I want to teach others about it.
Where do you see your business 2-3 years from now?
I expect it to still be just me, although I do have a few friends that help me with some graphic designs .They are however not part of the business as such.
Depending on how this new project goes, I think we could build up a (perhaps new) business as a partnership. We likely would just be the two of us, but if it becomes a success, nothing stands in the way of adding a few other people.