Startups

Meet InvestorLink, a fintech platform to serve new issue offerings

After years of building and bootstrapping, the Philly-founded startup is coming out of stealth mode, with plans to hire locally.

Matthew Michel.

(Courtesy photo)

After nearly four years of working on a tech solution to a “clunky” system, founder Matthew Michel is ready to come out of stealth mode.

The self-described “painfully local” Philadelphian — he attended both La Salle College High School and La Salle University, and has stuck close to the city since — had worked in the financial services field at Merrill Lynch and Griffin Financial Capital before setting out to work for himself.

He’d experienced the difficulty of placing retail liquidity in new issuance deals and aimed to build a digital solution that would replace the standard process. The existing infrastructure didn’t make it easy for the different sides to interact with each other in a meaningful way, he said.

He was ideating on what is now InvestorLink, a free-to-use workflow tech platform that gives investment banks a simpler way to source and tailor retail liquidity for new issue offerings, IPOs and follow-ons. The platform is broker neutral and product neutral, the founder said, and automates and manages many pre- and post-trade services, like compliance and communications.

“When raising capital for new issue securities, it is a difficult process to source retail liquidity because of the fragmented nature of the wealth management industry,” Michel said. “Also, in contrast to institutional investors, it’s hard to judge which offerings will appeal to which retail investors, so the depth and breadth of your retail distribution matter a great deal.”

Since he began work on the company full time in 2018 from his kitchen table, InvestorLink has connected sell-side syndicate desks with retail liquidity in more than 800 deals, the founder said. Later in 2018, he was joined by Paul Gaydos, partner and head of equity syndicate, and in 2021, Zach Klehr joined as managing partner.

Following a few years of bootstrapping and building, the InvestorLink team raised some angel investment last fall. Next up: local hiring.

The team raised some money from angel investors in fall 2021, and have since rolled out the platform. The trio work with a group of contractors and a development team, and are in the process of raising again.

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“We thought it best we go and deliver before we ask,” Michel said of bootstrapping the first few years of the business.

Michel said the platform wasn’t a difficult sell to anyone in the fintech world, as most people they talked about it with felt the “pain point was pretty profound,” he said. With record capital influx last year, investors were extra busy. And the platform has a goal of reinvesting stakeholders to improve the process. While it’s free for users, the InvestorLink team makes money when distributing commissions.

“When you remove that pain point for them, especially when it doesn’t cost them anything, they were sold,” Michel said.

The team works remotely — Michel is based in Doylestown and Klehr lives in the city, while Gaydos is just outside of Manhattan — but they see themselves making some Philly-area hires this year with the goal of getting together in person at a TBD office space in the region. The current plan for growth includes having seven full-time employees by the end of the year, adding personnel in product, marketing and sales.

Michel, who’s ready to make some big moves with a few years of the businesses under his belt, said he’s glad he didn’t try to rush the process at all as a first-time founder.

“Understanding that push and pull was critical for us. If we wanted to get into this business and deliver tech on day two, it wouldn’t be well received,” he said. “We did it the old-fashioned way, and developed it later and it made the product development process easier. We knew exactly what we were solving for.”

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