I am CEO

CEO Empowers Retail Investors through Technology

Full Episode from I AM CEO Podcast - IAM2043

In this episode, we have Dan Raju, CEO of Tradier, discussing the company's mission, growth, and success in empowering retail investors.

Dan emphasizes transparency, effective communication, and the importance of adapting and prioritizing over-communication as a CEO.

Dan stresses the need for a go-to-market strategy, staying focused on the main goal, and filtering out distractions to lead effectively.

Overall, Dan highlights the importance of empowering investors, effective communication, and staying focused on the main goal as a CEO of a growing company like Tradier.

Website: tradier.com

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Full Interview:


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Dan Raju Teaser 0:00
When you're building something, you have to basically just not build the product. But build what you want to do with the product.

Intro 0:10
Are you ready to hear business stories and learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and level up your business, some awesome CEOs, entrepreneurs, and founders without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresh values your time and is ready to share with you the valuable info you're in search of. This is the I Am CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 0:37
Hello, hello. Hello, this is Greg from the I Am CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today we have Dan Raju. Dan, excited to have you on the show.

Dan Raju 0:45
Gresh thanks for having me on the show. Real excited.

Gresham Harkless 0:47
Yes, I'm excited as well and all the awesome things that you're doing. And of course, before we jumped into the interview, I want to read a little bit more about dancing, you hear about some of those awesome things.

Dan is the Chief Executive Officer of Tradier. Dan has overall responsibility of Tradier and the company's strategy and direction.

Under his leadership, Tradier has grown rapidly from an innovative product to an essentially infrastructure fabric that powers 200 Plus investing platforms globally, and serving some of the most active traders in the market. And his 25-year career as a technologist and entrepreneur, he has launched many successful online retail and financial products.

Prior to founding Tradier, Dan was the Chief Information Officer of TradeKing. Now ally invest. And prior to that he held senior executive level positions for large companies like the Associated Press, Borders Bookstores, Charming Shoppes and NCR.

Dan received his Bachelors of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from JN Technology University in India, and a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Mississippi in the United States.

And I was listening to an interview with Dan and he mentioned that Tradier was kind of like trading in a box. So I think it's really cool and awesome. Like all the things that they've been able to do and build and I'm super excited to kind of jump in.

And I think he mentioned in one of those interviews that he kind of has a mentality of always kind of looking to build to grow. And he didn't use the word disrupt, but I'm gonna use the word disrupt sometimes industries and make things a little bit better. So Dan, excited to have you on, are you ready to speak to the I Am CEO community?

Dan Raju 2:22
I'm excited. Let's say you have a great community, and I'm happy to share my thoughts with them. So thanks for having me.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 2:28
Yeah, absolutely excited to have you on. So I guess to kind of kick everything off, let's rewind the clock a little bit, here a little bit more on how you got started what I call your CEO story.

Dan Raju 2:39
So I was born in India, I'm a chemical engineer, by my education, I have a master's in computer science. You know, I had spent a lot of a lot of my early career, you know, trying to understand the enterprise, and and the business that surrounds the enterprise.

And what made amazing sense to me was how businesses get created, and how new businesses come and take over existing stack of businesses that really fascinated me. So I, I worked to the consulting side for a little bit, then vote for NCR, like you were saying, then eventually, all my career, I've worked in some senior level C level positions at a few large retail firms. But one of the key elements that always put my my role has always been the technology side. Somewhere in 2008, after going from retail to media, you know, I had basically discovered my passion for, you know, online retail investing.

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I mean, I fundamentally thought that eventually, people are going to want to manage their money more and more and more. Right. The idea I think, as people get more sophisticated as people get more self-empowering, finances are based, the control of finances was moved from large banks to the hands of individuals. And we and, and, and that was the heart of my interest into the retail finance. I just spent some time in, you know, a trade king. And eventually the calling came at tradier.

This is about 10 years ago that we that we had discovered before we started failure was a very simple concept. And that is that if you hundreds and if a catchy four to 7 million people are expected to jump into managing their own finances and, and the tools and the skills they needed to manage your finances. on the retail side needs to need to be enhanced to a point they're empowered in a way that they are able to get all the advantages, the data, the content, or the power of technology that the institutions have.

So it's been a mission to basically go ahead and how do you bring that kind of institutional depth into the retail side. So that has been the mission that started trade here, in the heart of it is basically empowering people to be able to make their own decisions financially. And I was focusing on the trading side. So that was the heart of it. So we started. So we started trading here about 2000, end of 2012 2013 timeframe.

But we had a very unique view about it. So the idea was to take some of the most complicated stuff that is there in the brokerage space brokerages investing stack, if you think about the brokerage business, it's archaic, it's old. It's it is it is, it is confused by regulation. It's misunderstood. And sometimes people actually have almost a negative opinion about traditional banks and brokerage firms. And so we had embarked on a vision to basically take that burdensome stack, and kind of open it up in a way that everybody has access to it.

And all entrepreneurs all over the world could have access to the US stock market in a way that they can build and create new products. So the idea of empowering retail investors was letting them act, but is breaking the barriers that let other people offer great tools. So that was the idea. And API is a manifestation of that. So we started that. We started in 2012.

We have since grown substantially, I mean, we do today, somewhere between close to 2% of the US retail market comes to us today, we power like you said hundreds and hundreds of platforms. And we support some of the most accurate traders in the market. But all through all to the growth of the company. And we have offices in primarily based out of Charlotte, we have few other offices across the country.

But all through the mission has been a very simple focus for us. And that is how do you unbundle technology to a set of great innovators and get it delivered in the hands of retail investors. And today, we are proud to say that I mean, we have been a part of the growth in the options space, that's basically giving people advanced trading capabilities, we do a lot of equity volume, there servicing clients, not just domestically but close to 108 countries outside the US.

But at the heart of it is really enabling them empowering them by giving them the tools, technology, data content service for them to make their own financial decisions. And that's kind of what we do.

Gresham Harkless 7:29
Yeah, that makes so much sense. Do you feel like that's part of your or the organization's secret sauce, the ability to kind of tap into that and how that manifests itself? With everything, you

Dan Raju 7:38
all have been able to build the API, just all those things? Do you feel like that's part of a session regarding machine? Yeah, see, at the end of the day, businesses succeed, because they are there for a purpose. Right.

And in most cases, successful businesses, the purpose is beyond the financial aspect. And companies, startups have to succeed, because they have to believe in a common cause. Right?

And the cause just can't even sell the company and make some money eventually, right? I mean, that has to be something. But if you focus on that, and that that becomes the focus, and you never serve the customer or your client, or the purpose or the industry. Well, yeah. So for us, I think, you know, it was about, you know, doing the right thing. And in for in for us doing the right thing meant, we're dealing with people's money.

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So let's measure not once or twice, but let's measure 10 times before we cut, that was very important for us, it was very important for us to be transparent, we felt like it was, you know, people should be able to connect with what we do and what we say and not be lost in the complexity of what we say that's very important first. And the last thing is, when when the doors are shopping, you're working in the office, you have to you have to carry those to everything that you do. When you behave the way you respond to a customer the technology you build.

And most importantly, the messaging you put out so far, I think, that always do the right thing kind of a message, since we are fundamentally dealing with people's money. And not just money of money, money for what $1 means for a billion dollar for for a person who has a billion dollars or a person who has got $10,000 and dollars. $1 means the same thing for him. Right?

Gresham Harkless 9:23
I wanted to switch gears a little bit. And I want to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app or book or even a habit that you have. But what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Dan Raju 9:33
I think it's very important for you to just be able to communicate what you're thinking about it at each point of time. It's sometimes not as important for you to defend what you were thinking about yesterday. Today. If you get lost in wanting to defend what you're thinking about yesterday, then you're just not good.

You neither would be agile and people are not in respect you, you have to basically take up the position that I'm in a journey, and I'm going to communicate my journey to the rest. It trickles down organization, we were people, everybody in the company knows that they are on a journey and they're not right every time.

So I think that idea that you can actually go ahead and that idea that you can that you can all communicate and let people understand where you are, at each point of time, even in many cases, you differing from what happened? Yes, what you said yesterday, it creates a culture in the company to scratch and redraw it every time, what would you consider to be

Gresham Harkless 10:36
what I would call a CEO nugget, this is a little bit more word of wisdom or piece of advice, I like to say it might be something you would tell to your favorite business client, or if you happen to a time machine, you might tell younger businessman, I could

Dan Raju 10:49
say that, what I learned from my experiences, it's, it's it comes down to something that's very, very simple. And that is that you need to have, and it's a nugget that I that I basically have found a lot of success in everything that we that we as a company do and what I do.

And that is to know that when you're building something, you have to basically just not build the product, but build what you're going to do with the product. Right? So I see a lot of young entrepreneurs basically getting caught up or lost, and I build something the world's going to come running to me, and most often that of not having to No, just because they've not thought through what I would do with the product along with while I'm building it, it could it has a very sequential way of creating a business where you create a business, you create a service, you're isolating yourself build something and you open the doors, in most cases, you'll find nobody's coming. Right?

But I think so it's just as important to know, from day one, in fact sometimes tell people, I would hire a marketing person before I hire a tech person, many businesses, right.

So it's so it's important to know, it is a much more challenging tasks to go to market than it is to actually build a product. So I see a lot of entrepreneurs focusing on the product, which is absolutely important to do the product is the driver. But the success comes from, from building a go to market strategy while you're building the product and not sequence one behind the other. Awesome,

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Gresham Harkless 12:31
awesome, awesome. Well, now I want to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. And our goal is to have different, quote-unquote, CEOs on the show. So Dan, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Dan Raju 12:41
I mean, being a CEO, is about being the evangelist for the purpose, you're leading the team towards right. But that's the primary purpose is the ability to let I think the ability to let people focus on that end goal, that mission that actually the stream of he runs through the company and being able to always think, focus.

And try to remove all the distractions, and not only you, but the people around you focus on the small, simpler goals, right, I think. And I think simple goals are generally bigger goals, I always have this definition, the simple goals are bigger goals, right? I think the key would be to basically go ahead and want to do that every day. It is very, very easy for us to get up in the morning as an entrepreneur at seven o'clock in the morning, turn on your zoom or get your get get to your office, and hustled through everything, right.

But at the end of the day, you if you're able to filter out what's what's directly with, if you're able to filter out the items that are closest to your goals, I think you'll always become a better CEO, a better leader, a better manager, and most importantly, the person who basically connects with people.

So for me, the key about being the CEO, is, is constantly making sure that yourself personally, and the world around you. And the ecosystem that you've built over time, is focused on the main goal every day.

And I think that's what is the hardest part of being the CEO and, and, and I say this all the time CEOs who are basically focused on the ones and people are generally more hands on more involved with the business than CEOs who are basically kind of living in living. I hate to say this, but living in living in, you know, unreal realities, right?

And it not only confuses the team around you, but actually confuses the company, the message, the purpose and eventually that all catches up with the company and yourself.

So yeah, so for me being the CEO is about staying focused around a simple goal, the goal that you have always stood for and as long as you do that all the time, filters out all the stuff you don't need to worry about. In most cases, it's more important, I think, for CEOs to kind of basically, it's more important, I think, for them to choose what not to work on, as important as is to know what to do.

Gresham Harkless 15:14
Awesome, awesome, awesome. Well, Dan, truly appreciate that definition. Of course, I appreciate your time, even more. So what I want to do now is pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know.

And of course, how best people can get a home view team, find out about the API, all the awesome things that you and your team are working on.

Dan Raju 15:31
The best way is to go to tradier.com. And that's probably the best way to get ahold of the trade here. I think we try our best to basically describe it.

Describe the products and all videos we have the trade your hub, if it's our own television, live, like it's live content studio that will be telecast every day.

So it's amazing content over there about what we do, and how we are changing the lives of so many companies. Yeah, and everything about traders on trulia.com. And you can always reach service and figure out and have them send me a message that always comes back. Awesome.

Gresham Harkless 16:07
Awesome. Awesome. Thank you so much again, Dan. Of course we're gonna have the links and information in the show notes as well to thank you so much, my friend and I hope you have a phenomenal rest today.

Dan Raju 16:15
Thanks for having me.

Outro 16:17
Thank you for listening to the I Am CEO podcast powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co. I Am CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community.

Check out the latest and greatest apps, books and habits to level up your business at ceohacks.co.

This has been the I Am CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless, Jr. Thank you for listening


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