Q&A with Dave Lemont, CEO and President, Currensee
SUB: Approximately how many users do you now have? What has your growth been like to this point?
Lemont: We are on track to reach over 12,000 active Forex trader members in our community in 2010. Our monthly growth has been very strong, especially since our official beta launch in October of 2009. We have been lucky to have partnered with some of the top players in the industry—brokers like FXCM, IBFX, Forex.com, Alpari, and MB Trading, portal partners such as DailyForex, Informed Trades, and Traders Laboratory, and a variety of partners such as SpotEuro, WinnersEdgeTrading, The Hansen Group, Candlecharts and many more. We have some exciting new features and programs launching in Q1 and Q2 that will continue the viral growth of membership.
SUB: Sharing trading tips and strategies on a social networking platform seems somewhat counterintuitive, on the surface. What is it about your site that encourages people to collaborate?
Lemont: Something we continue to hear from traders is how lonely Forex trading can be. We have a video series that profiles “Life in the Basement” and how Currensee changes that world for Forex traders. Traders are looking for ways to connect with other traders in a trusted way. The forums and discussion boards are often plagued with traders talking a big game but it can be tough to know who to trust. Currensee is all about real traders and real trades in real time, so you have a clear picture of the other traders in the network. We also hear frequently that Forex traders have a hard time knowing how well they are doing. It’s easy to burn out when you don’t have a strategy that you can measure over time. We give traders the ability to set their strategy—actually as many as they’d like—and measure themselves over time. It’s the best way to see what’s working and what’s not and it’s an excellent way to connect with other like-minded traders. We are excited to be the place where Forex traders can meet, collaborate and make decisions in real-time. It’s all about making more informed trading decisions and we are happy to be at the forefront of this new, transparent world.
SUB: Can you explain your revenue model in a bit more detail?
Lemont: Even though Currensee is currently free to traders, we make money in a few different ways. We offer a number of value-adding products to Forex traders, such as our recently launched Currensee Marketplace, where we offer trusted Forex products and services, and we take a small commission on these. Soon we will be introducing our Currensee Trade Leader program, where experienced Forex traders can be “followed” by less experienced traders and get paid for successful trading. We will also be introducing different levels of subscription services for access to advanced social analytics that help traders make more informed trading decisions. We also act as an Introducing Broker (IB).
SUB: What are some of the challenges you’ve found in running a social networking site that brings together people from 64 different countries?
Lemont: By its very nature, Forex trading is an international business, and since the Forex market never closes, it is very exciting to maintain a global community that is active 24/5. We are really facilitating communication and transparency between traders from all corners of the world, and I think it’s interesting that a trader in Michigan might find that they share the same trading style as a trader in Okinawa, Japan. Currensee’s model makes it easy for like-minded traders to connect, regardless of geography, by providing a network where they can chat about their trades in real-time.
SUB: What do you envision for Currensee in a year from now?
Lemont: We started 2009 with a few employees, a great product idea, and our funding from North Bridge. As we kick off 2010, we have more than 20 employees, have built a robust, trusted Forex platform, including our Currensee Marketplace, and are on track to grow our membership to 12,000 members by year end. We look forward to many exciting developments, including the recent launch of our Trade Leaders program for experienced Forex traders, several exciting partnership announcements, and the growth of our Marketplace that will help us to continue to support and develop our free platform. With the tremendous growth we saw in our first year, we are confident that Currensee will be known around the world as the trusted source for real time trade collaboration and as the trusted source for finding excellent Forex products and services.
SUB: What challenges have you experienced over the last year, since you launched (especially considering the down economy)?
Lemont: We began building our business during one of the most difficult times in our economic history. We continue to be fortunate to have a strong team, excellent funding and a loyal base of members all of which helped get us to where we are today. The launch of the public beta and our Marketplace were also both great challenges for us in 2009. Our public beta was launched in direct response to more and more traders wanting to join each month while we were in private beta. It was difficult to hold back and wait but we wanted to be ready to open the platform and chose to take the time to work out the kinks and add new features we knew traders would want. Our Marketplace was a huge accomplishment for our team. We basically built an “Amazon-like” store in under two months, which came with more challenges than you probably have time to hear about! This included everything from creating our own unique currency for the Marketplace, called Currensee Bucks, and implementing a full payment system for purchases and renewals, not to mention aggregating the products and services from a wide variety of partners. It was quite an undertaking but we launched in November and the Marketplace has been very successful and has become the place for trusted Forex products and services.
SUB: Finally, what tips do you have for other startups, especially those that are starting out in such a challenging economic climate?
Lemont: Starting a business is tough, even in the best of circumstances, and certainly the prospect of starting out in a difficult economy is downright terrifying. It’s a competitive marketplace, and funding isn’t as easy to come by as it once was, which is why it’s more important than ever to make sure that your business model stands out from the pack. And you can’t just assume that things will turn around—it is safer to assume that they will not and be prepared to stand on your own two feet. Companies that can accomplish this will be positioned for success when things finally balance out.
Currensee – www.currensee.com