Following last week's article on Web 2.0 investment social network and Bullpoo, a local Hong Kong company that is fast becoming a market leader in this area, I conducted an e-mail interview with Simon Lee, a young co-founder of Bullpoo.
Who are Bullpoo's primary users?
While our members come from all over the world, the majority of them are from the United States and Canada. We've managed to attract various interesting segments. We have young university students who want to learn, baby boomers looking for investment strategies and tools, and financial professionals who share tips on their investment journals. One of our most active members is an 82-year old with 50 years of investing prowess - who simply wants to share his volume of experience with other members in our community. Investors of all sorts find a home on our site, and they have all found a different way to gain value and to participate within our community.
BullPoo.com was only released to general public in July 2006. In a short few months, it has gained a tremendous amount of visibility. Even the Wall Street Journal has an article that talks about BullPoo. What would you attribute this success to?
We have focused from the start in designing and building a website that fulfills a need and creates true value for our members who use it. Before we launched, we spent 6 months of rigorous planning and development to perfect every inch of the website - from the technical to the interface and look and feel. We've also been working very closely with our community throughout the process to discover and build on what our users want and need, and I think that our recent coverage has been a culmination of this journey so far. The recognition has been exciting and unexpected, and we are glad that investors appreciate what has been made so far. Regardless, our main goal will always be to create the best that we can.
BullPoo.com leverages on a lot of Web 2.0 capabilities. What would you consider to be the most important benefits from Web 2.0 for BullPoo?
Web 2.0 has spawned many new possiblities on how the Internet can serve different people, and one of them is the finance community. Websites can now have a whole range of powerful capabilities, including improved user interfaces, efficient ways of organizing information, and new avenues of interaction. Applications previously restricted to desktop software can run fully online. The power of Web 2.0 now lets users do what they want, anywhere they want.
In a broader scope, Web 2.0 introduces new concepts and ideas that transforms the way the Internet is used. It represents the democratization of information, and gives everyone a platform to voice themselves to the world. Web 2.0 has given rise to the concept of social networking, which has opened up many new ways in which perfect strangers can meet and interact around common interests. This has revolutionized the way people socialize. It is now possible to easily create a network of people out of virtually any topic - from dog lovers, to political groups, to gaming enthusiasts. Groups with members from all over the world can form overnight, and can be sustained and managed virtually over the web. Our team has tried to leverage as many of these aspects of Web 2.0 as possible to bring new perspectives and benefits to our community.
Moving forward, what is your strategy for Bullpoo?
The foundation of our strategy is to mature our current platform - making it truly global by covering other world markets, and increasing the depth of our investment tools (such as trading options and foreign exchange) to add more channels for members to collaborate.
As we move forward, our strategy is to continue to explore the possiblities of social networking, and bringing all of its strengths to the finance world. One of these is to allow members to form and nurture different levels of communities. For example, introducing the power of Web 2.0 to allow investment clubs to organize and operate, and to expand their horizons by opening them up to a broader, global community. There are many, many possibilities and we are very excited to try them.
We want BullPoo.com to be a constantly evolving entity, and throughout this process, we will be continually working with our community on building and improving it.
I understand that several of the founders were educated overseas and your market is currently focused on US. What made you all decide to set up a company in Hong Kong?
Our team has had the benefit of having experienced different cultures, and having lived in different parts of the world. For us, our service is inherently global and we feel that Hong Kong is one of the best places to be positioned to take advantage of this. Hong Kong is a financial hub and an international city, with close links to the US and Asian markets. Also, Hong Kong is a gateway to China and many other exciting opportunities such as Japan. Being in the center of this gives us a unique perspective of our market and continually reminds us of the global view we must have at all times. As such, our team has readily adapted to dealing with members of many different cultures and, (to our loss of sleep!) different timezones.
I think you mentioned before that investing doesn't need to be a lonely profession. What do you mean?
From our experiences so far, and from our members, we know that investing can be a lonely profession. Many hold the view that it's a zero-sum game where the winners take from the losers and there is no gain from cooperation. However, our members have shown us that this perspective is not always the case, and we want to break this whole mindset wide open. Understanding that sharing is really a personal choice, we give our members the option of whether they want to stay private, or whether they want to participate.
We encourage collaboration, because collaboration between investors can in many ways be a win-win scenario, and everyday we get more and more members asking us how they can find other like minded investors. They now yearn for a community - be it for support, for recognition, for profit, or just for a place to talk about finance. Our ultimate goal for BullPoo.com is to be the environment where investors of all types can be nurtured. As the Wall Street Journal put it, we should be a place where you can find your "Investing Soulmates".