In the world of entrepreneurship, success often comes to those who embrace challenges and chart their own unique path. Jannick Malling, a Danish-born entrepreneur, is a perfect embodiment of this spirit.
From his early days tinkering with the internet in the suburbs of Copenhagen to co-founding and leading successful ventures in the financial technology space, Jannick’s journey is both fascinating and inspiring.
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Early Beginnings in Copenhagen
Born in the outskirts of Copenhagen, Jannick reflects on his early exposure to the internet. Denmark, a pioneer in broadband adoption, allowed him to start building websites at the age of 12.
Fast forward to the era of Macromedia Flash, and Jannick was already crafting websites for his father’s business.
This early foray into the digital realm planted the seeds for Jannick’s future endeavors, which was something unlike the whole European mentality. At the time, the trend was more toward becoming a banker, doctor, consultant, or other such profession.
Saxo Bank and the Financial World
At the age of 17, Jannick took an unconventional turn, joining Saxo Bank, often referred to as the European version of e-trade. This experience marked his entry into the financial services sector during a period of rapid growth.
Reflecting on the unconventional culture at Saxo Bank, Jannick explains how it shaped his mindset and prepared him for the unpredictable nature of the entrepreneurial world. He remembers joining as one of the 300+ employees, and within a year, the workforce was 1,000 strong.
The same week Jannick joined, General Catalyst and General Atlantic invested around $100M, which was an eye-opening introduction to the fast-growing side of the business. Jannick credits a lot of his learning to Kim Fournais and Lars Seier Christensen, the founders of Saxo Bank.
Scandinavian by birth, they had more of an American Mindset and built a capitalist company culture. Each employee was given a book on Ayn Rand on joining, which again pointed to their liberal thought processes.
Tradeable and the Challenges of Financial Services
After his stint at Saxo Bank, Jannick co-founded a company that ventured into the financial services space, facing the challenges of the 2008 financial crisis. The initial idea of rolling up brokerages around the world faced a setback with the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
However, the company pivoted into a credit facilitation business, navigating the volatile financial landscape. Jannick concedes that that was the worst possible time to start a new company.
But at the time, companies needed credit with the major banks in London and would have had to put up collateral worth anywhere from $20M to $40M.
Tradable turned profitable quickly and, although scaled slowly at first, took off in a big way. Jannick remembers acquiring smaller companies and navigating the volatile nature of the company’s lifecycle. He worked on several projects, including internal tasks and CRM.
Tradable opened offices in London, Singapore, and several other locations. Eventually, Jannick ended up exiting the company for $20M.
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Taking a Year Off and Diving into Design
After the sale of the company in 2016, Jannick took a year off to reflect and explore new horizons. During this period, he returned to his design roots, building mobile apps and providing design advisory services.
This phase allowed him the freedom to analyze opportunities and make informed decisions about his next steps.
Sometime in 2016, Jannick started angel investing and wrote his first check as well. He recalls having several inbound ideas and multiple job offers to be the CEO of different companies.
Venturing into the U.S. with Public
In 2017, Jannick moved to the United States and founded Public, officially launching in 2019. Public is an investing app that was the first to introduce the concept of real-time fractional investing.
The platform aimed to democratize access to the stock market, enabling users to invest in any stock with any amount of money.
Public allowed people with funds as low as $500 to invest and build a meaningful portfolio. This factor opened up the market to a lot more people who historically didn’t really have access to invest with high minimums and had to pay for full shares.
Jannick emphasizes the importance of retrofitting the stock market with a mechanism similar to Bitcoin’s accessibility. Since Bitcoin is born on the Internet, investors don’t need to buy one full Bitcoin to participate in the ecosystem.
That’s how Jannick ideated a wonderful feature for investors to be able to control every parameter of their portfolio regardless of the small amounts they invested.
Navigating Challenges and Remote Scaling
Public faced the ultimate test with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Like many others, the company had to adapt to remote work while experiencing exponential user growth.
Jannick reflects on the challenges of scaling a company remotely, doubling the user base monthly throughout 2020.
Jannick also talks about the challenges they faced in raising funding worth $300M for Public. He recalls founding the company in 2019, which was just one year before COVID. They launched the fractional aspect and had the beta version rolling, along with some social features.
Jannick reveals how every metric went up from 10 times in one week to the next and so on. Around January 202, Public did its Series A funding, and by March 2020, it ran a Series B round.
The same day, the S&P 500 hit the circuit breaker for the first time in like 30 years because it was down more than 7.5%.
Storytelling is everything, which is something that Jannick Malling was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend Peter Thiel (see it here), where the most critical slides are highlighted.
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Jannick also had a few meetings with Hollywood celebrities like Will Smith and Kobe Bryant to raise funding. At the start of COVID, Public was working with 15 employees, but by the end of the year, this team went up to 50 people. That’s the level of scaling they did in a single year.
Vision for the Future
Public’s mission is clear: to make the public markets work for all people.
Jannick envisions a world where every individual over the age of 18 has an investing app on their smartphone, participating in the economy as owners and having access to all asset classes, from being able to buy stocks, ETFs, and crypto to fractional bonds and music royalties.
He emphasizes taking a macroeconomic view of the country across generations, including millennials and Gen Z folks, who are facing a lot more issues than the previous generations.
Jannick underscored the importance of providing opportunities for younger generations to invest early and benefit from compound growth. And not wait until they are 38 to start investing.
Jannick wants to enable people to invest in crypto stocks, bonds, and any alternative investments to build a robust portfolio of different asset classes.
Words of Wisdom
In conclusion, Jannick shares a piece of advice: “Just do it.” He encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to gain confidence in their skills, stay deep in the work, and continuously fine-tune their skill sets.
The entrepreneurial journey is a constant learning process, and without evolving as professionals, they run the risk of becoming talking heads or political figures.
Jannick’s story serves as a testament to the power of resilience, adaptability, and a relentless pursuit of one’s passion.
Listen to the full podcast episode to know more, including:
- Jannick Malling’s journey began in the outskirts of Copenhagen, where he started building websites at the age of 12, riding the wave of Denmark’s early adoption of broadband.
- Joining Saxo Bank at 17 exposed Jannick to the dynamic world of finance, shaping his unconventional mindset and setting the stage for future entrepreneurial ventures.
- Co-founding a company during the 2008 financial crisis, Jannick experienced the challenges of pivoting business models, adapting to market dynamics, and finding success in the midst of uncertainty.
- A year off after the sale of his company allowed Jannick to reconnect with his design roots, building mobile apps and gaining valuable insights into the importance of user experience.
- Public, Jannick’s U.S.-based investing app introduced real-time fractional investing, envisioning a world where everyone over 18 participates in the economy as owners through accessible stock market investments.
- Public faced the unique challenge of scaling remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, doubling its user base monthly throughout 2020 and adapting to the changing dynamics of a rapidly growing fintech.
- Jannick’s vision for Public extends beyond profit, aiming to create a world where all individuals, especially younger generations, have easy access to investing opportunities, fostering financial inclusivity and early participation in the markets.