Free stock trading app Robinhood has raced to become one of the most valuable fintech startups in America, last week quadrupling its valuation to $5.6 billion.
It’s starting a shareholding revolution by helping a new generation of 4 million young investors buy shares in companies like Apple, Tesla and Amazon, but without extortionate stockbroker fees.
Across the pond in Britain, Adam Dodds is brewing a similar revolution for Europe.
Dodds and his team have spent the last two years building Freetrade, a Robinhood-like service which late last year became the first challenger stockbroker to be authorized by the London Stock Exchange.
“We’re just entering our public beta, with our first live trade yesterday,” Dodds told Forbes—news that will excite the 34,000 people on Freetrade’s waiting list.
Today the bigger news is that Freetrade is launching its third equity crowdfunding campaign, raising £1 million ($1.3 million) on Crowdcube.
“We're basically staffing up, expanding the team, and we're gonna be expanding to Europe in the next 12 months,” says Dodds.
Maybe unsurprisingly, an awesome app that promises free and accessible investing has also been a huge hit among crowdfunding investors.
Dodds’ last crowdfunding round of £300,000 in 2017 was overfunded to the tune of £800,000, and he’s quietly hoping to similarly smash his goal this year.
Prior to publication, Freetrade's crowdfunding round already reached £1.7 million, clearing their original target by a significant margin and before the round officially opens up to the general public tomorrow.
The funding will help Freetrade launch its app in the U.K., and begin opening up the service across the rest of Europe.
While a full launch in Britain and development of additional features (like U.S. stocks and fractional trading) is still in progress, the team are already planning their next move.
“We already have a regulatory passport and can technically start onboarding European clients as soon as we're ready,” says Dodds, pointing out that a huge number of people on his waiting list are from across the continent.
"We're also preparing for Brexit, part of the reason we're doing the raise is to set up a European subsidiary, potentially it might be Dublin or in Amsterdam.”
But while Dodds and his team look to Europe, Robinhood has long been made rumblings about expanding its well-funded business to the U.K.
“They're still killing it in the States,” says Dodds, unfazed by the prospect of Robinhood’s eventual arrival.
"We look at the competition more from the likes of Revolut or other European fintech firms who really understand the market.”
Indeed Robinhood’s website makes a bold claim that “free stock trading is expanding internationally”, but links to a press release from 2015 with talk of Australian expansion that never materialized.
Dodds is certain his European expansion will be more successful.