June 26, 2017
Robert A. Vergara Jr.
Cover art Erka Capili Inciong
John Christian Bisnar, the 26‑year‑old CEO of Investagrams worked as an equity dealer in two big foreign brokerage firms in the country—Macquarie and Credit Suisse—before becoming a full‑time stock trader. His job included buying and selling shares, as well as giving insights on investment to different clients who were all part of the 1% of the Philippine population that was invested in stocks.
“I’d seen many of our institutional clients making millions from our market. And there, I realized that though the Philippine stock market was really strong, only a few Filipinos were benefiting from it,” he told SparkUp. “That’s where I knew I need to do something about it.”
So in 2015, Mr. Bisnar, together with former De La Salle University schoolmates JM Lapina and Airwyn Tin, founded Investagrams—an app and website that would provide users with “everything they need to succeed in their stock market journey.”
Art Erka Capili Inciong
“We were all young traders who wanted to create something meaningful beyond ourselves,” Mr. Bisnar said, adding that the trio “lives and breathes the stock market.”
“We realized that there was no single go‑to platform when it comes to the stock market here in our country and that’s where we decided to establish Investagrams,” he also said.
For beginners, the platform features articles, videos, and modules about stock market trading. Users who opt to start actual trading but are still afraid of the risks involved can train using its virtual trading platform.
Investagrams also features analytic tools, including charts that project relevant market indicators, automated analysis that shows important price levels, and stock screener that allows users to go through the hundreds of stocks. It also has “InvestaWatcher” that sends users price and disclosure alerts via text message, email, and in‑app and Facebook messenger notification, allowing them to monitor their stocks from time to time. Users can also reach out to other traders through Investagrams’ social network feature.
“The whole platform makes the stock market easier for our users,” Mr. Bisnar said. “Before, you had to read newspapers for updates, but now you just have to take a look at our news aggregation feature (which also happens to include coverage on the market by bworldonline.com—Ed).”
He said further: “Our advanced analytics saves you a lot of time and makes you a more efficient investor. Instead of analyzing hundreds of stocks one‑by‑one, with our screeners and alerts, you can easily pinpoint which stocks are showing potential.”
At present, Investagrams has 80,000 users and an average of more than two million views per month.
It helped that they won equity-free funding worth ₱500,000 from startup incubator IdeaSpace Foundation, alongside a mentorship and formal entrepreneurship program by the Asian Institute of Management.
“The IdeaSpace program definitely helped us to get off the ground. Our mentors helped us develop a more mature and systematic approach as a start‑up company,” he said.
For Mr. Bisnar, making the bourse more accessible to the average Filipino is, by far, Investagrams’ biggest contribution to the country’s trading community. “In learning stocks,” he said, “not only do you open up a new avenue to make money, you will also gain a broader perspective and deeper understanding of business and the economy.”
Mr. Bisnar and his associates hope to bring more Filipinos to investing in the country’s growing economy. They are currently organizing a summit where institutional traders and those in the retail scene will share their expertise to young, aspiring investors.
“Our long‑term aspiration is to really guide more Filipinos in the stock market and teach them the right discipline and approach in trading or investing,” he said.
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