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Hack To Start
Episode 108

Michael Katchen

Founder & CEO @wealthsimple.

Listen to this episode on iTunes, Stitcher, & Google Music

Michael Katchen is the Founder and CEO of Wealthsimple, a platform that make smart investing simple and affordable. After starting his career off as a business analyst with one of the largest consulting firms in the world, Michael got a call in 2011 from a friend who was building a new YC company, 1000memories, where he was a VP of product & growth. After being acquired by Ancestry.com, some of his close friends approached him about advice on how to invest some of the money they got during the acquisition. Michael then created an excel sheet to help his friends learn how to invest. This was the MVP for Wealthsimple. Since launching in 2013, Michael and Wealthsimple have since raised over 30 million dollars in vc funding and grown to over 20,000 users, winning numerous awards along the way. Michael joins us to share his story, how he got into tech and startups, how he approaches building products, how they overcame early challenges when launching Wealthsimple, how they’ve built such a cool brand, what they look for when hiring and building a team, and tons more insights on building startups.

Main Objectives For This Episode

  • Learn more about Michael.
  • Learn more about how Michael got into startups.
  • Learn more about what motivated Michael to start Wealthsimple and some of the early challenges they overcame.
  • And more!

Episode Overview

Michael Katchen is the Founder and CEO of Wealthsimple, a platform that make smart investing simple and affordable.

After starting his career off as a business analyst with one of the largest consulting firms in the world, Michael got a call in 2011 from a friend who was building a new YC company, 1000memories, where he was a VP of product & growth.

After being acquired by Ancestry.com, some of his close friends approached him about advice on how to invest some of the money they got during the acquisition. Michael then created an excel sheet to help his friends learn how to invest. This was the MVP for Wealthsimple.

Since launching in 2013, Michael and Wealthsimple have since raised over 30 million dollars in vc funding and grown to over 20,000 users, winning numerous awards along the way.

Michael joins us to share his story, how he got into tech and startups, how he approaches building products, how they overcame early challenges when launching Wealthsimple, how they’ve built such a cool brand, what they look for when hiring and building a team, and tons more insights on building startups.


What You'll Learn In This Episode

  • Learn more about how Michael got into tech & startups.
  • How Michael approaches building his team and products.
  • What it was like raising a seed and Series A round.
  • How they've built and grown a culture of "Builders & Owners".
  • And more!

Some Of The Questions We Ask

1:55
Where are you from and what did you study?

2:54
So how did your passion for tech & entrepreneurship develop?

4:15
So after starting your career as a business analyst and consultant as you mentioned, you joined 1000memories.com in San Francisco as a VP. What was this company and how did you create the opportunity to join their team?

8:05
What were some of the biggest lessons you learnt from this experience?

9:44
What advice do you have for product managers on launching products that gain adoption? Both inside and outside of larger companies?

12:50
What is Wealthsimple and why tackle the financial industry, what about space motivated you to launch this platform?

14:04
Wealthsimple now seems to be everywhere and it’s like it showed up overnight. How did you guys acquire your first users in the early days?

19:25
You’ve raised a 1.9M as a Seed round in 2014 and 30M in Series A in 2015. What was this process like for you and do you have any insights for other entrepreneurs (both in and out of the fintech industry)?

23:21
Wealthsimple has very awesome marketing and done some stunts to attract some attention. How do you approach building that type of brand and scrappy approach within the company?

26:26
What are some of the most recent apps you’ve downloaded or used lately?

28:14
Any last thoughts or personal mottos that you live by that you think others should know about?


Here are some of the most important links and resources mentioned throughout the show.

Twitter Handles & Websites

Michael Katchen on Twitter
Wealthsimple on Twitter
Wealthsimple on the web
Tyler Copeland on Twitter
Franco Varriano on Twitter

Devices, Apps, and Books

How We Raised A $2M Seed Round In 2 Weeks
Pokemon Go
Akira
Pocket
Chaos Monkey

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