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.
His latest venture, Public has attracted funding from top-tier investors, including Accel, Greycroft, Lakestar, and Tiger Global Management
In this episode, you will learn:
- 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.
For a winning deck, see the commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400M (see it here).
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About Jannick Malling:
Jannick Malling is the Co-CEO and co-founder of the investing platform Public.com.
Public has raised more than $300M from leading investors, including Accel, Greycroft, Lakestar, and Tiger Global Management, as well as celebrity backers such as Will Smith’s Dreamers VC,
The Chainsmokers’ Mantis VC, Blavity’s Morgan DeBaun, NFL stars JJ Watt and Bobby Wagner, and tennis champion Maria Sharapova.
Prior to Public, Mr. Malling was co-founder & CEO of Tradable; he began his career at Saxo Bank, the original online trading service in Europe.
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Read the Full Transcription of the Interview:
Alejandro Cremades: Alrighty hello everyone and welcome to the dealmakerr show. So today. We have an amazing founder. You know that has done it. You know he’s now on. He’s a next day you know rocket ship that he’s built. You know the last one he had a really nice outcome. We’re gonna be talking about building scaling financing all of the good stuff that we like to hear. So again, a very inspiring conversation ahead of us so without further ado. Let’s welcome our guest today janic malling welcome to the show. So originally born in Denmark so give us a walk through memory lane. How was life growing up.
Jannick Malling: Hey, thanks man, it’s good to be here. Yes, ah, ah in the sort of outskirts of copenhagen life is you know Copenhagen is a little bit of a bubble. It’s ah it’s just such a. Specific society. Ah so it was fun. Lots of highlights. But I think the one most relevant was probably like Sweden Denmark was one of the first ah countries to really get a broad level of adoption of of broadband which means up and on the internet since I was 10 years old probably. And it started building stuff when I was 12 um, and mostly you know I don’t know if you remember back when macro media flash was cool but like that was like the websites that I built for my dad’s for instance stuff back in the day. Um, and so that’s how. I guess I ultimately get into got into all this stuff I still do design today by the way. So I’ve kept that up but I I it’s been a long time since I’ve written any any code that made any sense. But um, that was how I called the bug I guess.
Alejandro Cremades: but but I mean always he you got started early. You know like at 14 but they also you got started early. You know like getting your feet wet when he came to financial services.
Jannick Malling: I did yeah so I I joined a company called saxobank when I was only seventeen years old I sometimes look back at this if you like man like that was like very very early like what was I doing I should be having a lot more fun in my 17 at 17 but. Um, but anyway that that happened and you know Saxo Bank for for those who don’t know I guess was sort of like the european version of Etrade. You know the first to do online trading in Europe and so that was that was my first professional experience which is kind of odd because I think I joined it with like number employee 300 something around there. After a year we were over a thousand people so it was definitely like aroga ship I think the same week that I joined I think of general catalyst general Atlantic I think was atlantic invested like hundreds of millions of dollars um and I mean at that time $100000000 was a lot of money I mean. Still is today but that was like before you know saying oh 4 or something. so so yeah that was my first professional experience and I guess when when that is such a rocksha it kind of really messes with your head because you start thinking. Okay, cool. This is this is what working’s like and so. in in that sense I’ve never really had a normal job I suppose because that was a crazy time at a crazy crazy fast growing place. Lots of great memories from there I was there for a couple of years then a bunch of us left to start another company sort of du aly out of Copenhagen and and London another crazy 15 years there.
Jannick Malling: Um, and that ah that company got sold 2 out and 16 and then I ah went stateside and started tingering with what now sort of is known as public.
Alejandro Cremades: So before public you know I want to talk about you know the the last company 2 that you did you know tradedable. So how did the whole thing you know of you venturing on your own because I mean saxo bank it sounds like very much ah stable. You know, kind of like path. You know, very much.
Jannick Malling: Oh totally.
Alejandro Cremades: Align with the whole European mentality of hey become a banker a doctor a dog a consultant or something So how is the ah whole transition into the venture world and and getting started. You know with tradeable How how did that all happen.
Jannick Malling: Yeah, well I would say first of all to the credit you know, Las and Kim the founders of Saxo were were very well-known ah back in schidinavia at least like. They were never conventional guys they were never the sort of conventional european person that you’re referring to. They were very american in their mindset. The whole culture of the of the company was ah very capitalist I mean everybody was given a. I and Rand book when they joined like so like very very liberal. Um, very libertarian kind of place and the whole culture. Definitely ah had a lot of that and that was that was enlightening I many ways you know a bunch of us left in actually awa oh 7 oh 8 like around that time. And so you know the global head of sales. The Cio started that company I then sort of sort of was pulled along with them if you will um but it was so weird because we were exactly the guys that left the rocket ship and you know we had our reasons we felt we had a pretty good thesis etc. Then bear stearns went under and the whole thing started to kind of unravel and I guess you could say that we were a little bit than the idiots who had left that rugget ship only to try and start a financial services company at the worst possible time. Um.
Jannick Malling: But you know we we ended up pivoting a little bit away from the original idea. The original idea was about rolling up a bunch of brokerages around the world and this that and the other it was a great thesis. The only problem with that idea really was that the sole sort of lp we had was a company called Lehman Brothers you might remember. Um, and they sort of went on du for one day to the next and so then we just had to scramble like crazy and figure something else out and we eventually did it ended up being more of sort of a credit facilitation business. So at that time. What did everybody suddenly need you know ah credit with the big banks in London at a time where they would. Have to put up twenty thirty forty million dollars a collateral to kind of get it right because the credit department’s obviously in a way just completely froze up and so so they ended up being a a pretty good business. Um, and you know grew quickly into kind of profitability and so not. Not like a venture case at all really like more like saw the classic you know ah had had some money invested but but really, um, really kind of turned profitable really quickly and then scaled more slowly and and ultimately took. Sort of spent 8 years there and you know we ended up building a number of things within the companies spun some companies out tradeable was one of the ones spun out there was another one called tredimo that we sort of acquire so it ended up also being a little bit of like a group kind of thing that that we were building ah with various degrees of.
Jannick Malling: Of of success but you know, definitely an interesting kind of journey just starting at a very volatile ah point in time and yeah, one of these Journeys where it was so volatile from day zero and like that Never really kind of slowed down it seems and so um. Super interesting journey and you know and decent outcome for everyone and yeah, that was sort of that was ideas that went by really fast.
Alejandro Cremades: Well this an outcome I mean first day rodeo you know first exit a 20000000 so so what what kind of pastability would you see that would you say that gave you into the full cycle of building scaling you know and exiting a company to.
Jannick Malling: I mean I was sort of ah it was interesting because I was a young guy on the team I mean obviously like I said seventeen s I was probably 20 when we started the company mostly the other guys were like in the 40 s and 50 s right? So it’s like a totally different kind of thing I was the guy who had a 250 a year in a plane because I had no family and I could actually do that and by the way at the time I loved it now I hate flying right? It’s kind of funny how things change over time I used to be immune to jet lag now it hits me pretty hard. Um, but you know I think it was just a little bit. It was the ultimate like learning by doing kind of situation which. Think it’s just the only real way to kind of do anything and it helped me it. It helped me really get into a mindset where like I said I never really had a job where I sort of. Had a defined scope and it was hired to do this like job description and then go and do that because even s saso was growing so fast so it was just like hey just help the company grow. Do whatever you want and I worked on so many different projects from like internal stuff to crm stuff. We opened offices in London and then Singapore and many different places was like it was all just kind of a whirlwind. Um, and you know the next company became a lot of the same also because it was like an X-axo Group so the culture was very much kind of that as well.
Jannick Malling: And then obviously as public was much more the case where I was it was just like basically much more of a 2 co-founder kind of story. You know, sort of raised venture capital is a little bit more that kind of classic playbook. Um, and um. And yeah, so so that was actually a very different kind of journey. Also I think doing its state side. It’s like very very different I mean I I lived in London in 162 when the company got acquired but then brexit happened at the same time and so that was also sort of a thing of like very much a. Ah, fork in the road if you will ah also in terms of like personal situation. You know like I sort of looked around like do I want to live in London at the point in time where brexit kind of happened because it took everybody by surprise. But ultimately really glad I went to the us and I always had the inkling to go to what I’ve always considered the. Sort of champions league of the financial world which at the end of the day is you know, New York but most specifically I guess the the us stock market right? Like that’s where all the best companies goes to ipo. It has the most volume has the most liquidity. It’s the most no and it’s sort of um you know it’s where the money is literally and and figuratively.
Alejandro Cremades: No kidding no kidding you got to follow the money you got to follow the money now in your case, you know you did follow the money you came to to the Us. But you also took a year off so how would you say that? What did you do during that year of
Jannick Malling: Ah, stop.
Alejandro Cremades: Um, what kind of soul searching or what what were you searching for what was they? How did you land you know with the idea of public.
Jannick Malling: I was still in my twenty s so I guess I took that year up because I just realized like I’d been working my ass off since I was 17 and like it would not be uncommon to pull all nighters right? I feel like today if you pull all nighters like maybe you do it if you work for Elon Musk but otherwise it’s. Uncommon like it was not uncommon back in my day and again sexo was a very special kind of place the work eth. It was insane. We cared whatever. But but that was all our I ever knew right? And so um, and so I kind of like and I guess I in a way I so continued to work I just I was I was at a point in my life for the first time where. Um, you know I had a little bit of money in my pocket so I had a little bit more freedom of kind of choosing kind of what I could do and I didn’t need to go and get a job immediately if you will and um, so for that reason I just decided to go back to my design routes and really started like I’ve grown a little bit.
Jannick Malling: Further away from design and product and so I just went back with my own 2 hand and started building mobile apps and helped some other startups with sort of design advisory invested started angel investing in 2016 I wrote my first angel check as well. So um, so yeah I just I used it to learn honestly as much as I I possibly. Could but I think there was value in just slowing down because you never if you just go from one opportunity to the next all the time you never actually know what your opportunity cost is right? and so I think the the freedom you know financially and otherwise to just like take a year out and just like wait and see what kind of happens and when I say opportunities I both mean inbound ideas that come to mind I had multiple kind of job offers being ceos of different companies and this that and the other and but it was like it put me in a position where I didn’t have to just like. Say yes or no quickly like I could actually think about stuff and have proper time to kind of analyze um, and then you know the public story. It was interesting. So so obviously for the audience that the might not know. Public is an investing app and 1 of the first ah kind of things we became. Known for was we invented the concept of real-time fractional investing so the ability to buy any stock for any amount of money you know if a stock’s trading at $2000 you could buy all the way down to a dollar of that stock which did 2 things on the 1 hand and I think this is how it become it has become most known of like the mosckertizing access to the markets because obviously like.
Jannick Malling: If you only have ah five hundred bucks saved up even with that you can actually build a meaningful portfolio. It’s easier to invest sort of paycheck for paycheck. So I guess it ah it opened up the market to a lot more people that historically didn’t really have access to invest with high minimums and you know having to pay for full shares. But the idea actually came like mostly. The fraction of stuff mostly from my own experience of and and I had enough money to not do that. But it was sort of like I went to a bank and I was like hey here’s the portfolio I want to construct and I actually walked into a branch because the us has been a little bit stuck behind him in cases like what does your brains like this portfolio. Want to build. And when you’re constructing a portfolio that way you’re not sitting there going I want to buy 316 shares of that and 17 shares of that all these odd numbers you’re being like I want 5 grand of this I want 10 grand in Netflix I want 5 grand at Disney I want this I was that on the obviously not financial advice that this is many years ago. But like and so I probably had 40 line items like that send that to an email to the banker and he calls me up and and I get executed over the phone all these odd amount I was like this is a terrible experience because like this is how you should think about a portfolio in dollar amounts not in shares. That’s totally arbitrary. Right? Because like diversification is important rebalancing is important like like it’s so much easier if it’s just kind of dollar amounts and then I sort of looked around I mean keep in mind it’s 216 now. So then I looked around and you know people had been talking about bitcoin for a couple of years like well there’s a lot of things interesting about bitcoin. But.
Jannick Malling: 1 of the most interesting facts is because it’s born on the internet. You don’t have to buy 1 full bitcoin to participate in that ecosystem and so you know 1 thing led to another and quickly became the thought of like hey what if we could retrofit the stock market with a similar mechanism with a similar feature so that you can just go and buy any stock for any amount of money. And then my design instincts kicked in I’d be like well then you can build a ui that’s much more simple because it’s just ah, it’s just a little bit more like a venmo like a payment app where it’s just like a big dollar amount then you enter it and and you’re done right? versus sitting there doing math and like what’s the market price and it’s ticking up and down etc. Um, and I think especially for people that are maybe not. Super active day traders that has been ah where it’s a little bit more longer term and you don’t really care about every individual tick. It’s been a wonderful feature to just control the diversification of your of your portfolio you know, even if you have ten fifty one hundred thousand dollars it’s it’s quite meaningful to be able to like. Rebalance much more often. Um, totally you know, um, controlling every parameter in your portfolio.
Alejandro Cremades: So obviously as we’re talking about investing here. You guys have also raised quite a bit of money. How much money have you guys raised today and what has been the journey of raising the money.
Jannick Malling: Think 300000000 all in ah, it’s really been the sort of tale of 2 2 different kind of stories I mean you know we launched in September of 2019 so so think back to that basically have a year before covid if you will right? Um, so when we launched the fractional thing we had a beta rolling before that where we had you know some social features and other things but like fractional was the thing that really like when we launched that every metric kind of went up 10 x from one week till the next and then it just kept rolling. And um, and then we rolled all the way into match of 2020 and you know we had done around I think it was our series. B. Yeah, we we sort of like series a was like the first one and this the series b in January and so we were announcing it in March I think we announced it the same day that the sandpfivehundred hit a circuit breaker for the first time in like 30 years because it was down more than seven and a half percent so the timing there was wild. Um, and by the way even that that. That that that route we did I remember we flew to l la because we were having a few meetings with some hollywood folks ah will Smith and other celeb folks. Um, and it was sort of like I think we’re supposed to actually ah, potentially meet with kobe.
Jannick Malling: His chopper went down the day before we flew so that was like and I’m a huge kobe fame for that was like getting into a that we with like nine eleven in New York kind of vibe. Um, but then on that plane people were actually some people were wearing masks and somebody called it’s like hey you on a plane like have you seen this thing out east and it’s like.
Alejandro Cremades: Um.
Jannick Malling: Not worried about it right now I’m fundraising Kobe just died like you know it’s like this the last thing on my mind whether I wear a mask or not right. This is still january yeah obviously and then things moved very quickly kind of after that and so it was a wild journey because we went into covid fifteen people. Um, but at the end of the year we were always 50 people. We’d raise 2 more rounds. So I think we we basically raised twice in 2020 at the beginning and at the end and everything in between that remote scaling the company I mean we basically doubled the user base almost every single month in 2020 so like every company and by the way when you think about that you know. It basically means you’re running kind of a different company every month for a full year if you’re doubling the user base of a product every month um especially because we didn’t stop from zero because we’d launched sort of heavier before that and so it was pretty meaningful numbers and and that was. That was a challenge that nobody like doing that then remotely for the first time that’s a challenge nobody could could ever prepare you for on a small kit at home as well and and you know my first one and so you know it was just um, a little bit of a blur very much a whirlwind. I often still try po why I enjoy stuff like this because there’s still things that I probably haven’t fully processed there if I’m being totally honest and I still can find new perspectives when I really reflect back on that time because it was just such a such a head taken such a crazy time.
Alejandro Cremades: Now for the you know I guess I guess for the obviously the capital that you mentioned that you’ve raised you know 300000000 I guess the the question that comes to mind here is obviously you know like to get investors you need to have the vision. You need to have um.
Jannick Malling: Okay.
Alejandro Cremades: You know that vision that is going to get investors. Excited employees, excited customers excited and when it comes to the vision if you were to go to sleep tonight Janic and you wake up in a world where the vision is fully realized what does that world look like.
Jannick Malling: Um, I think a great vision. First of all is kind of actually like by definitions of it. You can’t truly realize but I would say then it’s a world where every single person over the age of 18 has an investing. Ah. And with a smartphone you know has an investing app on their home screen. Um, and and I think obviously there’s been a great boom. There’s a lot more younger people coming into the markets. But I think especially when you look at a lot of the macroeconomic sort of situation around the country across generations. Um. You know millennials and gens c folks are sort of um they face a lot of issues relative to previous generations homes are very expensive Scott Galloway talks a lot about this one of our investors as well has another great podcast where he gets into this a lot but like yeah, there’s a lot of issues kind of all around. 1 of the few real legups that they have relative to the previous generations is they can actually start investing with as little as ten bucks from their phone that day they turn 18 and I think the average sort of boomer that started investing probably h thirty eight. So that’s 20 years of missed compound investing opportunity. And so that was a lot of what drove like the vision to just like hey the world is so much of a better place generally speaking if everybody participates in the economy by not just by working but by being an owner as well. Um, and.
Jannick Malling: I guess that’s a little bit where a lot of things kind of started. We think that could be super impactful. We think that could make for a super interesting business and important I think we always ask questions like are there and is there an important company to be built in the space right? because I think um, you know there’s a lot of I’ve been a lot the financing a lot and I’ve seen a lot of. Companies that were great businesses. Highly cash flow you know, positive or whatnot but not necessarily important companies and so I think there was this a loaded sense of like once you have one sort of win in the back you get the? Um, even if it’s small. You somehow get the confidence to be. Um, you know to think things like hey what do I actually want to spend my life on working right? and it’s certainly not just like how do I how do I make end meets and how do I how do I pay ah pay the bills anymore and so from that perspective obviously that that’s been a super helpful. Kind of dynamic in driving that vision of like hey how do we get to a world where everybody has a missing app on their home screen and is participating one way or the other in the public markets at latch. Ah so our mission statement therefore is also make the public markets work for all people and by the way that can mean you’re investing in stocks crypto. We recently now bonds to. Alternative investments even so it doesn’t mean that everybody needs to just ah, build a stock portfolio of a magnificent 7 I think there are many different people that will come into the space in their own way through different asset classes. But I think just you know participating in the upside of the economy at large I think it’s something that’s.
Jannick Malling: Important for everyone to do at some degree.
Alejandro Cremades: So let’s say you know we’re talking about the future but I will talk about the past with a len of reflection if I was to put you into a time machine and I bring you back in time to that moment that you know you’re thinking about maybe like making the switch from saxoback and let’s say you’re able to have a chat with that younger self coming out of. You know the bank thinking about a world where you could become an entrepreneur a co-founder and let’s say you had the opportunity of having a chat with that younger self oh would that be 1 that 1 piece of business advice that you would give to yourself before starting a company and why given what you know now.
Jannick Malling: That’s an interesting question I don’t think I had that one before framed like that. Um I mean it’s a little cliche. But honestly the the first thing that comes to mind is the Nike slogan just do it right? like I think.
Jannick Malling: Like I’ve always been fairly analytical I would say and so which can be great but it can also work to a detriment, especially when you’re younger, you have a little bit less confidence. Maybe um and what I didn’t realize at the time is because I had actually been designing stuff on the web.
Jannick Malling: Since I was twelve years old that put me in a cohort of people that were actually quite good at designing and building stuff on the way but I didn’t realize that because also especially because I wasn’t silicon valley I wasn’t even in a major techckup I was just sort of in the suburbs of Copenhagen right? And so I think ah. Giving me some sort of a confidence boostoth. So I could have have realized how that the the skill set that I had built up at that point of time was actually um in pretty. High demand enables not like a normal thing to be able to do at that time right? This was like before building a website even right like this is before Squarespace this before all that stuff and I guess taking more comfort in. In fact, and then and then you know keep keep. Fine tuning your skillset like I think it’s very important to always be deep in the work. That’s a management principle that we have here all of our managers have to be deep in the work and be ics as well to a large degree if because all otherwise you sort of get disconnected from the work and you just become a little bit of a talking head or a political figure like you have to always be rooted in the work. And I think that’s the 1 thing that I then took the opportunity to catch up on during that year where I didn’t do anything I mean I did a lot of things but I didn’t sort of you know work as such.
Jannick Malling: That was just me taking the time to kind of polishing my skills and then also deciding for myself like okay I’ve always loved design more than anything and so let me go super deep on this. Um and all the way down to like being able to actually design and then I worked on a bunch of apps and then um. For friends and friends of friends. Some of them started winning some awards getting featured by Apple and it says like okay, it’s not have bad right? and then you start to get that kind of confidence up but it maybe became a little later that I would have wanted to if I could if I could jump in a time sheet.
Alejandro Cremades: I hear you I love that just do it So janic for the people that are listening that will love to. Um you know reach out and maybe they say to the show I’m just gonna do it I’m just gonna reach out to Janic you know what is the best way for them to get in touch and say hi.
Jannick Malling: Ah, probably just Linkedin or Twitter or x sorry elon x um Linkedin or x you headnic mauling. There’s not a lot of other yani mallingks out there so that should be easy enough to find and I think you know it’s not. I would say that to myself I think there’s a lot of people during the whole serp era ah sort of serp entrepreneurs that ah maybe had a little bit too much. Just do it and now when things that got a little bit harder in the last couple years decide that it’s not for them and so just do it is not always the advice I would say. But I think if you if you really get to a place where you can have an honest conversation with yourself and you have enough self-awareness to have that and then then you still come out of like okay there’s something here that I can and should do then? Yeah, then you know don’t don’t hesitate.
Alejandro Cremades: Amazing. Well hey Jenny thank you so much for being on the deal maker show today has been an honor to have you with us.
Jannick Malling: Yeah, thanks man, Good to be. Yeah, it’s fun, fun.
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