Hey Everyone - Dez here from All Things Venture. I started All Things Venture as a way to help early stage entrepreneurs showcase and spread awareness about their companies, and the missions they’re on. I am 100% committed to that. I’m appreciative of each and every entrepreneur who provides me with the opportunity to share their story, and each and every subscriber who checks in to read the newsletter.
So before we get into today’s interview, I want to pose a question for you all. If you could have invested in Airbnb in 2008, when it was just three guys and a website, would you have? And don’t BS yourself and say, “OF COURSE, duh” really think about it. Back in 2008, Flo-Rida’s “Low” was on top of the charts, good old Dubya was still president, and like half of Gen-Z hadn’t even been born. Would you have really been willing to invest $10,000 into a startup trying to convince people to sleep in other people’s homes while they’re on vacation? It’s an interesting thought experiment, but I think what matters the most is that the average person would have never even had the opportunity to invest in Airbnb in 2008. For argument’s sake, let’s say a $10,000 investment in Airbnb would have bought you 1% of the company in, and let’s say that by the time Airbnb went public your shares had been diluted down to .001%. Even at that .001% ownership, the value of your shares would have been worth $120,000,000 and you could be off solving world hunger, creating the next SpaceX, or just peacing out and buying a ranch in Wyoming. The point is whether you can invest $10,000 or $10, the opportunity to invest in the next generation of entrepreneurs and world class companies is confined to a select few groups of people. Airbnb made it easy for me to book my next vacation online, but what company is making it easy for me to fund the next Airbnb online? That’s what Kelsey Willock is trying to solve with Tardi. I had the amazing opportunity to chat with Kelsey about her thoughts on equity crowdfunding, the power of private equity as an asset class, and her vision for Tardi. Check out our conversation below.
All Things Venture: What is Tardi?
Kelsey: Tardi is a two-sided marketplace for retail investors to gain access to slices (equity) of private businesses. On the retail investor side, we intend to equip investors with the right tools to make good investment decisions and excite them about the value and importance of long term investing. On the private company side, we will provide businesses with an alternative way to raise equity. Companies listed on Tardi are growth companies that intend to exit within five years.
All Things Venture: What led you to build Tardi?
Kelsey: I love creating and I believe in the power of small (“tardi” is actually named after the tardigrade, one of the world’s smallest yet strongest organisms). Just as I believe a novice writer has the potential to be a bestseller, I believe a small business owner can scale and a small investor can flourish with the right tools. I want to be a part of the movement to give business owners alternative ways to raise capital and investors the chance to gain exposure to a previously ultra exclusive asset class. I also firmly believe private equity is the final frontier for retail alternative investments as we have watched the world democratize investing in the public markets, art, wine, crypto and real estate. And finally, I believe that the buying power of women is huge but the investing power of women is untapped, so I am working to address this gap through my platform.
All Things Venture: Who do you believe Tardi is best positioned for?
Kelsey: Tardi is being built with the woman investor in mind. I believe that women as an investor base have been underserved and their investor power is untapped. So with that backdrop, I want to build a platform with the psychology of women in mind. The app is completely for everyone but we wanted to create the first fintech platform designed for women in an effort to attract more women to invest!
All Things Venture: What are some of the challenges that you face at the current stage for Tardi?
Kelsey: Building a two-sided platform is difficult. It's almost like a chicken and egg situation. You need to make sure you are developing a pipeline of investors while growing a marketplace with investment opportunities. My strategy now has been to grow a network of investors and one I have an established base, work to onboard businesses.
All Things Venture: What defines success for Tardi over the next few months?
Kelsey: Over the next few months, we are aiming to release our MVP, conduct user testing with the platform (we want to engage 100 retail investors and 20 companies). And intend to start fundraising our pre-seed!
All Things Venture: What advice do you have for any aspiring entrepreneur?
Kelsey: Take a ton of notes and write down all your ideas. Then once you have an idea you're really excited about, start talking to people about it and seeing if there is a general interest/need. I spent over a year thinking about what I wanted to do, what problems I wanted to solve and ended up finding so much clarity when I reflected on those ideas. Then once I landed on something I knew I needed to pursue, I joined an accelerator program to help me foster the idea (On Deck is the community!). While you may have a brilliant idea, you can't do it alone, so lean on brilliant people to help and support you along the way.
Note: If you’re an entrepreneur interested in being listed on Tardi, feel free to reach out to me at Dez@apexventurestudio.com