How Sharesies Started Out
Millennial case study - Sonya Williams, 30, Sharesies co-founder
21 October 2021
In 2016, the media was largely filled with stories of unattainable homeownership and avocado on toast.
Baby boomers and millennials were scrapping over who had it tougher, says Sharesies co-founder Sonya Williams.
She could see there was a problem, and how it could be solved.
She realised that people who couldn’t afford to buy houses were also priced out of investing.
The minimum buy-in was high, they were “jargoned-out” because of the complex language, and “branded-out”, because they didn’t fit the mould of the typical Kiwi investor – over-60 and male.
“We thought, how could we do something that was a bit more empowering and inspiring for people who were out of the property market?
“What’s another way to grow your wealth that doesn’t mean you have to save up heaps of money for a deposit – something that’s a bit more accessible.”
Sonya, along with six co-founders, decided to launch an online platform where you could start investing with just NZ$5, and Sharesies was set up in late 2016.
Williams looks back at all the work of the startup. “I wouldn’t say as a blanket thing that starting your own business is a good thing to do – it’s an awesome experience but it’s hard work. It’s more [about] have you done the work? And you feel comfortable that starting a business is the right thing for you.”
One year on, around 80 per cent of Sharesies’ 22,000 investors are under 40, there’s almost a 50-50 gender split, and they’ve got NZ$23 million invested.
The founders were young to be starting a business, but Williams says entrepreneurial spirit isn’t necessarily connected to age.
It’s about mindset
“I think it’s a factor, but it’s definitely more about mindset. Age just doesn’t have a monopoly on this type of thinking.
“I love that we are really sharing this opportunity to grow wealth with so many people.
“I hope it fundamentally changes the way people see money in the future.”
Williams has a tip for other fledgling business stars.
The key to entrepreneurship is falling in love with a problem, not falling in love with an idea for a business, she says. If you do that, you’ll never run out of ideas.
First published 28 February 2019
Story by Claire Connell
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