London-based Wombat Invest has quickly become one of the fastest-growing investment apps and services available in the UK. Competing head-to-head with Robinhood and Trading 212 and helping thousands of people take their first steps in investment, the Britain startup has some big plans to capture the global market in the coming years.
In a recent chat with UKTN, Wombat’s founder and CEO, Kane Harrison informed that Wombat Invest now plans to offer services across Europe and are in the early stages of preparing a £10 million Series A funding round. They intend to begin the process of expansion into specific European countries early next year. Currently, the company didn’t reveal any information on the investors but watch out for this space for more information soon.
Grown-up investment, simple enough for a child
The roots of Wombat Invest can be found in CEO Kane Harrison’s teenage years. An Australian — he moved to the UK ten years ago — at 15 he was earning around AU$300 a month working as a checkout operator. His father, who worked in banking, advised him on investment, but the costs, both of stock and fees, meant Harrison had to save a significant amount before he could buy shares.
His first purchase, AU$800 in a mining company, was a success, leaving him with AU$600 profit. Speaking to UKTN, Harrison explained the effect that had on him. “On the back of my dad’s recommendation, I made $600. As a 15-year-old, that was twice my monthly wage. My reaction was, ‘My God, passive income! I’ve just saved myself two months of work!’ That was what got me hooked on investing.”
Harrison studied investment, and worked in banking for a while, before moving to the UK where he set up several businesses before, eventually, founding Wombat Invest.
Making investment accessible
Harrison feels Wombat solves the problems that he faced as a 15-year trying to invest, which are still faced by anyone looking at stock market investments. There is a high barrier of entry, for anyone not well-versed in the stock market. There are thousands of shares, creating an overwhelming choice, and many have such high valuations that those looking to start or to invest small amounts might not even have the budget for a single share in some stocks. And after that, there are commission and brokerage fees that can catch out the unwary investor.
The consequence is not just that 15-year-old checkout operators have a hard time getting in, but successful professionals often feel unable to invest. Wombat Invest, therefore, seeks to work as a gateway to investment. “Wombat is basically there to solve the problems I had. So, there are fractional shares, and you don’t need to pay commission. Then it helps create good habits through roundups and monthly investments,” Harrison says. It also offers something to replace the advice and guidance he received, “We have a lot of in-built learning, just like my dad helped me. It makes it easy for people because 75% of our customers have never invested.”
Offering a curated selection of investments, Wombat offers a middle ground between platforms that offer just a few funds and those that provide unfettered access to the thousands of stocks being traded on various markets. While no investment is guaranteed, it means that investors are choosing from stocks that have some potential and can look for the names and brands they already know and like.
Plans for international expansion
Fuel Ventures-led Wombat Invest has already witnessed rapid growth. Named the fastest-growing investment app by App Radar, the service currently has over 160 thousand users and is experiencing 15% month-on-month growth. They have raised £4.5 million to date and are now looking to the future. Already in discussion with European- and US-based funds, they hope to launch a £10 million Series A round later this year.
The funding will support planned expansion into the European market. The funds raised will be split between marketing to raise brand awareness, and the growth of the team, Wombat Invest currently has 21, UK-based, staff.
The intention is to begin their European expansion early in 2022, targeting a country at a time, establishing their services gradually across the continent. Harrison is keen to take advantage of the growth of the investment market. “There’s a lot of new consumers coming into the market. We feel there is a massive opportunity over the next three years.”
Despite the quality of his service and app for investors, Harrison is also keen to highlight the educational benefits it provides, a reflection of the lessons he received from his father. “We think Wombat’s a great platform to get new investors onboard,” he says. “It can educate them a little bit about investing, get them into themes and then get them into individual shares. It’s a great way for people to start investing.”
Interview by Akansha Srivastava