After exiting his first technology startup, Calvin Williams, Jr. wanted the capital he took home to be managed by the best to increase his net worth. “I tried to reach out to various wealth managers to see if they would help me at my current stage and I quickly found out that I did not meet their minimum barrier to begin to do work,” says Williams. “I left those conversations feeling embarrassed and frustrated by the process, because if we want our wealth to grow, we should be able to work with great people to do so.”
This need to provide financial management for those that fall below those high minimums led Williams to found Freeman Capital, an artificial intelligence-powered active wealth management platform that offers easy to navigate online investment solutions for those below the high-net worth bracket.
“Our platform leverages both automation and knowledgeable human traders so that we can bring more investment opportunities to the middle class and millennials,” says Williams. “When I realized that nearly all of the active wealth management firms are only focusing on those that are already wealthy, then I had to figure out how to service the rest of America — over 138 million people — and help them build their wealth.”
Founded in 2015, the Charlotte-based startup offers tiers with different starting points from $1,000 up to $5,000 as well as levels of risk. Williams describes their approach to customer engagement as a mix of personal and valuable as they approach each customer from two perspectives — investing and education.
Upon sign up, the platform asks the user specific questions about their investment experience, exposure, and comfort level with investing. This allows the platform, which currently boasts 60,000 followers in our online community with 12 percent increases month over month, to identify what type of education they need as they begin their financial journey.
“What’s very different about our platform, while others only do passive investment, we prompt the user to make goal-based investment — from retirement to vacations — to keep them motivated,” says Williams.
To find the right customer base for their platform at its inception, Williams hired a marketing firm to do a wealth management study of consumer across the whole country to understand gaps in the market. For the next two years they did over 3,600 phone calls, emails, and focus groups to understand the demographics.
“As a result of that hard work, we have our sweet spot of people that are really resonating with this offering — they are between the ages of 25-49 with a combined household income of $100,000,” says Williams.
Freeman Capital’s technology is key to making its emerging investors comfortable from the start. The key to its platform is the different layers of automation that make the process a little more digestible, according to Williams. One of the automation layers allows the platform to add both the amount of risk and the customer’s risk tolerance level to every trade and investment — no need to re-adjust every time.
Another is an automatic cut-off if the losses for one month start nearing the customer’s maximum risk level. “In other products, customers are not aware of how much they could lose but with us, you can plan for yourself before you get started,” says Williams.
The platform’s currency trading programs also allows customers to invest past U.S. borders to diversify their investment portfolio. At the end of the month, if the user has made a profit, the startup takes a small fee out of the earnings. If in doubt, on-demand financial professionals are available to answer any questions; they also provide webinars and other resources to increase financial literacy.
Williams recently completed the Ascend2020 Accelerator. He mentions that amongst their demographic you can find users with professions as diverse as DJ’s and bakers looking to carve out a future and save for retirement.
“We want people to feel more informed. After talking to others, it’s not only about making money, they also want to learn so they can become a better investor,” says Williams.
After raising a friends and family round and self-funding to this point, Williams and his team are ramping up to start raising a $500,000 angel round this summer.