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Talking Social Impact Investing with Emcee Co-Founder Arash Asady

Currently based out of Stern’s very own W.R. Berkley Innovation Labs on the fourth floor of Tisch Hall is a four-person band of engineers, consultants and former Wall Street traders who are helping to shape the future of investing.

Their mission is to spread wealth and financial progress to the next generation of investors, and they’re doing it through a sleekly designed social investment platform that allows the user to mirror the investments of his or her peers and donate a portion of profits to a charity of choice.

Founded just 10 months ago, Emcee has already been through several incubators, including the $300K Entrepreneurship Challenge, Stern Venture Fellows and the NYU Tandon Future Labs. They’re building up a big reputation in the FinTech industry by speaking on conference panels from coast to coast. Avid bloggers, the team shares its social investment wisdom via its blog.

The Oppy caught up with founder Arash Asady, as he was bouncing around events in Boston for FinTech Week, to find out what’s up in the world of Emcee:

You’re no fledgling entrepreneur, are you?

No, I co-founded a FinTech startup before focusing on developing and deploying enterprise robo-advisory software for banks in South Africa. Before that, I spent a few years on algo trading desks at leading banks on Wall Street.

What about your co-founders?

Our CTO, Ryan Gary, and CDO, Colin Kuntz, went to Purdue together, where they studied mechanical and biomedical engineering before moving into the tech space. Ryan went on to study computer science at NYU, while Colin did a UX Design Bootcamp. Matt Cheek, our COO has a corporate strategy and consulting background and has collected degrees from UNC Chapel Hill, the University of Maryland and USC Marshall. Matt and I actually served in the Marine Corps together and went through the same training.

Seems like you have been keeping very busy with Emcee.

Yeah, we just got back from Miami, where we spoke on a wealth technology panel at the FinTech Americas conference, and this Thursday we’re set to do a demo as part of the FinTech Sandbox Accelerator in Boston for FinTech Week. Denver Startup Week at the end of September where we were invited by Patriot Bootcamp to attend its Techstars sponsored workshop. Then we move on to Amsterdam in October as part of the Startup Bootcamp accelerator demo day and an emerging FinTech scene.

Speaking of, what other incubators have you been a part of?

We were part of the semi finals of the $300k Challenge last year, which wrapped up last spring. Over the summer, we did the Stern Venture Fellows, which was awesome. We got to meet with advisors, mentors. We sourced funding, networked with industry leaders and spent one week in San Francisco hanging out with VCs and wound up securing more funds for Emcee!

Now is the NYU Tandon Future Labs, which is sponsored by City of New York and run by the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, and we just got accepted to an international accelerator called Startup Bootcamp in Amsterdam. I get to bounce back and forth between the boot camp and NYC, but my co-founders are going full-time to Amsterdam for the full four months. The accelerator is focused on B2B partnerships with European Banks.

What’s with the Spotify analogy?

Our discovery and personalization tool works from the user’s social media footprint to make investment recommendations based on interests – a bit similar to following someone’s playlists, although on Emcee you can literally mirror, in real time, anyone’s investments.

We understand you’re still in Beta testing. So, when’s the big launch?

We’re excited that our official launch on October 30th will be in partnership with Portfolios with Purpose, a platform that has run charitable fantasy stock-picking competitions for the past seven years, to wild success, and has a very strong presence on school campuses. Students from highschool and college will be able to sign up to Emcee and play for charity and then begin to invest on their own behalf.

What are the next steps for Emcee?

Right now our entire focus is on growing our engineering efforts. Product development would improve the platform and help us better integrate with our new partners. We’re excited to have our first huge marketing push as well via the campus brand ambassadors for Portfolios with Purpose.

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