TopTradr: James Olden

‘Entrepreneur at heart’ James Olden’s new platform promises to connect like-minded traders and offers a $1 million fund competition

Name: James Olden
Age: 37
Company Name: TopTradr
Staff numbers: 6
Location: Greater London
Date Launched: 01/12/2013
Website: http://toptradr.com/

Tell us what your business does:

TopTradr is an evolution of social trading, made distinctive by its superior ability to evaluate trades and provide a verified measure of a trader’s ability and, in turn, improve their trading skills. Through the TopTradr platform, the best traders are being rewarded with their own hedge fund to manage as well as the help to get noticed as a serious Prop Trader.

At the heart of the TopTradr offering is a proprietary algorithm which ranks traders based on their trading performance. Rather than just focusing on total return, TopTradr takes into account consistency and risk reward ratio. The algorithm returns a TopTradr score, allowing users to instantly compare the performance of fellow TopTradr traders.

Our vision is that your TopTradr score will become a measure of your ability to trade; like a trading Klout score. It would become a professional influencer, a way to prove your credibility. Essentially, this will clean up the industry as we’ll gain the very best traders.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

I wanted to create something that I, as a trader, would enjoy using. I was extremely sceptical of other platforms which promoted ‘guru’ traders making a 500%+ returns on all their trades. I didn’t want to copy trades, I wanted to see how I fared against other decent traders out there. It wasn’t so much about recognition for me as it was verification as to how I was performing – trading used to be a somewhat solo activity, so building a community of like-minded ‘serious’ traders made a lot of sense.

Applying an entirely transparent approach, the TopTradr app links to Twitter and Facebook and allows traders to share their trades, ideas and achievements openly and transparently.

How did you know there was a market for it?

Recently, there’s been a lot of buzz around mirror trading, especially as there is an expectation that regulators may take action in the near future. Should this happen, as the market stands today, TopTradr would be one of very few trading apps not to allow the practice.

One of the reasons why copy trading has become so popular is the belief that, at a novice or retail level, it helps overcome the barriers to successful trading – something we do not agree with. The premise is that everyone benefits if the mirrored trading is successful which is unfortunately far from reality, as it is often only the mirrored trader who gains. There is also an issue of credibility, how do you know that the ‘guru’ you are copying has a much better knowledge of the markets than you do? Without independent verification, it’s impossible to tell.

As TopTradr is all about finding talent and discovering and rewarding those who are promising traders, our model simply does not need copy trading.

The other factor that sets us apart is the fact that TopTradr gives users the chance to win up to $3,750 every week, in addition to the equivalent of a $37,500 hedge fund to manage for the highest ranked trader. Over the next 12 months, we are also looking to launch our grand $1m prize fund.

What were you doing before starting up?

In relation to TopTradr, I was working on two projects with the team at Café Labs. H2o markets; a CFD advisory brokerage and we were also starting to devise a new social network. Between that and my own trading activity, it wasn’t long before I saw a gap. TopTradr was the natural culmination of the two projects.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Being an entrepreneur at heart, I don’t know any different as I’ve always been self-employed.

How did you raise the money?

We’ve been self-funded up to launch, since then we have received backing from institutional investors.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

Scaling! We’ve proved our concept and now the biggest challenge is to continue to scale our model. When you consider that we may process up to 2 million trades a day, through desktop and mobile devices all around the world, which our algorithm must then factor in over a matter of seconds, it is no small feat!

We are also continually striving to make the app as native as possible in terms of functionality.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

The TopTradr model is simple. Essentially, we are an IB (institutional broker). We attract, retain and reward the best traders. We receive income through referrals for our prop traders and make trading commissions from new accounts opened. Importantly, we invest our money in our best traders and share in the rewards.

What was your first big breakthrough?

Although I’ve had successes, I feel my biggest success is yet to come. That’s what keeps me motivated!

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Scale fast, fail cheap! It’s great when you have a big idea, but don’t underestimate the time and resources you will need to move that from a concept to reality.

What can be said about start-ups that hasn’t been said many times before? All I would say is it’s much harder than you can imagine. You need to have incredible confidence in what you’re doing before anyone else will and that confidence needs to remain when it gets tough. There will always be competitors, but you’ve got to remember why you started in the first place and what it was about your concept that set it apart.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

There are lots of other exciting features that we plan to implement in the next release such as featured traders and subscribed groups. We are also looking into other language versions, particularly for HK and China as we’ve received such a high level of interest from users there, we naturally want to offer the best service we can. Watch this space!

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