Leif Abraham, Co-CEO, Public.com
Public.com is an investing app that makes it possible to own the companies you believe in, with any amount of money — commission-free. We sat down with co-CEO Leif Abraham to learn about how Public is building a human-centric brand.
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Can you give an example of how the unique behaviors of millennials and Gen Z will impact your business in the next two years?
More than ever, people want to support the companies they believe in. Voting with your wallet used to mean just buying things from companies whose missions align with your own. Great. But what’s next? We think it’s being able to invest in companies that align with your interests, whether that be supporting female founders or investing in the future of cannabis.
The public markets should be more accessible to more people, period. This means offering a service that is more intuitive and more transparent. You should be able to buy a tiny slice of a share of a company you love, especially if the price trades at $500 or $1,000+. And you shouldn’t have to navigate a clunky UI to do so. When you see a term you don’t understand in an investing platform, there should be content in there that breaks it down in language anyone can understand.
In the way we operate our business, engage with our members, and talk to prospective new members, our focus is always on humanity. Are we treating people like human beings versus simply numbers in a spreadsheet? Are we giving them the things they expect, and surprising them with value-additive experiences that they didn’t see coming?
Can you give an example of how your company is creating meaningful connections with either one of these demographics today?
One of my favorite features we offer is the ability to follow interest-based themes. Human beings want to think about their investments in terms and language they understand. Our “New Kids on the Block” theme curates a list of recent IPOs. “Nom Nom Now” tracks food delivery companies. “Baby, I Got Your Money” is a collection of companies at the forefront of the future of payments.
What’s the most important thing for agencies need to understand about the current state of finance marketing?
The prototypical target for financial products and services isn’t who you think it is. The legacy financial institutions are struggling to attract diverse cohorts of investors because they have been slow to move to a strategy that is built with these human beings in mind.
For us, this is much more than a marketing exercise. We build products for real people who are at varying stages of their investment journey, and this is a much different approach than trying to force-fit those people into an experience that wasn’t actually made for them.
What emerging technologies will transform the future of banking?
Technology has already upended banking. We saw the initial wave of this with the first “digital” brokerages, which dramatically lowered the barrier to entry for everyday retail investors. From there, we saw a second wave where most major institutions slashed their commission fees to zero.
What’s next is the third wave, and that is technology that allows for transparent communities of people to exchange ideas. As the first social investing app, we’ve created a way for people to learn from their friends and subject matter experts.
How do you define what it means to be a “modern marketer” today?
Your brand is what people think about you. We’re trying to influence that perception as much as we can, but in the end it’s up to the people. Therefore marketing is more than just a single function within an organization, but it extends to every corner of the business. For us, this means the way we build products with human beings in mind. The way we handle customer support. The way we approach partnerships. The way we interview candidates. Everyone who works at Public plays a critical role in shaping our brand.
On that note, we’re hiring!