In 2012, Maximilian Rofagha started an ecommerce company that grew to be the second largest in Switzerland after Amazon. He sold it three years later, and in 2016 started Finimize, a financial education platform making investing less intimidating for all. I spoke with the Forbes 30 Under 30 recipient about everything from investing to company culture. You’ll want to take notes because the wisdom he shared can be applied across industries, expertise, and education levels!
Across cultures there are two topics that are notoriously taboo, money and politics. Add the fact that both can be difficult to understand to the equation and you have to ask, ‘How am I supposed to do this?!’ Max created Finimize as the solution.
“Through Finimize, we’re empowering people to become their own financial advisor by giving them the information and tools they need to do so.“ The newsletter helps you understand the day’s financial news in 3 minutes, 30-minute expert breakdowns unpack investment trends, and events connect you with over one million ‘Finimizers’ from around the world.
I’m subscribed to the newsletter and I love that it turns complex topics into digestible bites.
Now that we’ve got finances covered, share your resources for politics!
When investing there’s usually the tortoise option – slow, steady, reliable – and the hare option – hot, sexy startups. I was curious to know how someone ready to invest should choose.
Max says what’s more important than what you’re investing in is how. “Defining your process and being able to replicate it will take away the emotional element. The worst thing you can do is buy a stock then sell it the second it goes down.”
When doing research on what to invest in Max was lucky to have great relationships with people in finance, Finimize creates a community for those who don’t. As a member you gain access to information and become part of the conversation even if you don’t feel advanced enough to join.
“The core user is a “casual investor” that wants to or is already taking an active role in investing. Everyone from students to billionaires use Finimize. We intentionally bring people from different knowledge levels and backgrounds together so they can learn from each other.”
Before launching Finimize Max built a successful ecommerce business that grew to over 200 employees, and later sold it. In the past 5 years, he’s been able to grow Finimize to millions of users. I know this success doesn’t happen by chance, so I was curious to know his financial advice for startups.
Here’s what he had to say:
1. Be thoughtful – Don’t think you have to raise capital right away, unless you’re opening a bank or fund. Ask yourself, ‘Can I build a business with my own cash flow?’ If yes, that’s the best situation to be in because it means you’ll continue to own the majority of the company.
2. Create Superfans – Happy customers come back so treat your users like VIPs. Early on [in the company] we gave users gifts – branded gear, delivered lunch at work, even painted portraits. Showing we care is the heart of our community, it reminds everyone involved that it’s all about the users at the end of the day.
Many company’s set culture guidelines after hiring employees, but Max did so before by creating a ‘Culture Manifest’. The living document is amended with every new hire and serves as a compass for the company. Max says the key is making the implicit explicit to avoid misunderstandings and remind everyone of the ‘why’ behind Finimize. This is an example of leadership setting the tone at the top as we learned from Tianna Tye.
We all know how much I love and advocate for learning and reading. I follow the ‘Broccoli, Candy method’, where I read something educational, then something fun. As a successful founder I had to get Max’s book recommendations.
Here’s what he shared:
What have you started doing or using lately that you love?
My Apple watch, I set it to minimize distractions and it helps me led a healthy life
What’s the next thing you’re hoping to learn in 2021?
Getting better at cooking, specifically making the best pasta and pasta sauces
What are your favorite social media accounts?
Rick Rubin on Twitter, Song Exploder podcast and Netflix show
What is the best gift you’ve given yourself in the last year?
A Rode mic and caring more about my health
Homework: Write your culture manifest, also keep note of new ideas and if you’re still excited about them in a week or two act on it.
Maya Elious is joining us to talk about how we identify our stories, master our message and package our brand in a way that sells. She’s passionate about helping others succeed (we’re all for that in this community!) and is bound to have some stellar advice on starting a business and growing a personal brand. I can’t wait!