BOULDER — What does the world get when an astrophysicist and a high-tech programmer start talking business — besides a combined IQ of about 1000 and a conversation well over the heads of most people?
Answer: A revolutionary Internet company that mixes the popular trend of online investing with the growing sense of community offered by the Internet.
Ion Yadigaroglu, a former astrophysicist, and Robert Nagler, a renowned computer programmer, founded bivio.com earlier this year. One of Boulder’s newest Internet start-ups provides groups of investors with the tools needed to manage their investments totally online.
The site is also totally free. Bivio.com’s partner companies, the larger brokerage and banking firms, pay to have their services advertised via the Web. Combined with advertising revenue and sales from their online bookstore, bivio.com is relying on a small group of wealthy investors called “angels.”
To date, bivio.com has spent about $500,000 of “angel money” and plans to begin its first round of venture capital funding in 2000.
“This is a new paradigm for online investing,´ said Ion Yadigaroglu, co-founder and chief executive officer of bivio.com. “You can think of us as the Quicken of investment clubs, but the difference is it’s all done online.”
An investment club is a group of friends or co-workers who invest money in the management of a small brokerage account. Person-to-person investment clubs have been around for more than 40 years, but the online investment club is the brainchild of bivio.com.
Since the release of their prototype in early October, bivio.com has attracted more than a 100 users with little direct marketing.
“We have an opportunity to give a fresh start and a new feel to online investing and investment clubs,” Yadigaroglu said. “It’s like running your own personal mutual fund.”
The site offers its users a secure, private space to create virtual investment clubs and helps existing investment clubs transfer to an integrated, Web-based system that offers 24-hour member access.
Site users receive free accounting services, portfolio and member reports, daily data updates and, most recently, document sharing services. These amenities are all provided by bivio.com and their pool of investment firms and experts.
“Like many Internet start-ups we are entirely focused on the customer,” Yadigaroglu said. “Our biggest asset is to deliver and live up to customer expectations. We have just been acquiring users and responding to feedback.”
And feedback is pouring into bivio’s request log.
In response to the most common requests, bivio launched its document sharing “bulletin board,” which allows users to post anything from club bylaws to interesting articles about investing within minutes for easy retrieval by club members.
The mixture of customer service and support combined with a unique way to invest keeps the users happy.
“I’m impressed by their technical support,´ said John Kleczewski, a bivio.com investor. “They seem to be very responsive.”
Kleczewski, a systems administrator for Cain County outside of Chicago, and 14 friends began their foray into the world of online investing two months ago. Though they have yet to make any money, Kleczewski said the group is happy with the range of capabilities offered by bivio.com.
“In an investment group you get learn more about the entire act of investing,” Kleczewski said.
Yadigaroglu and Nagler, the company’s chief technical officer, chose its Boulder headquarters for the wealth of high-tech talent in the area. The largely virtual company will procure office space for its seven employees in the next month.
“Boulder attracts the same sort of people as Silicon Valley, but it’s a little less crazy than California,” Yadigaroglu said. “We’re very happy with the mix.”
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