Drink Like a Lady Podcast

In Conversation with the CEO of Zingeroo, Zoë Barry

April 21, 2022 Joya Dass, Zoë Barry
Drink Like a Lady Podcast
In Conversation with the CEO of Zingeroo, Zoë Barry
Show Notes Transcript

Zoë's company started over a sibling rivalry.

One Christmas, she was locked in a debate with her brothers about which direction the stock market was headed. To settle the score, she decided to gift them a competitive, social trading experience.

Except----there wasn't one.

So she built one.

Cue Zingeroo, a platform that allows you to compete and track performance on individual trades with your friends or family. You can be a seasoned trader or a new one. Its downloadable from the iOS store. She's raised $8.5M to date.

This is Zoe's second venture-backed company. Her first company was also founded because of a pain point. She had a relative with a rare disease and the cost of specialty medication was through the roof. She created an "Amazon of specialty medication." Zoe raised over $42M for ZappRx before the company was acquired by Allscripts in June of 2019.

Join me in this incredible conversation with serial entrepreneur Zoe Barry. When she isn’t busy building her company, Zoë enjoys mentoring first time founders. She has invested in over 20 startups to date.

Joya is currently enrolling for her 2023 Mastermind here
Looking for adventure? She is enrolling for her 2023 Tuscan Writing Retreat here

[00:00:00] Joya: So she wanted to give to her brothers a competitive social trading experience. And when she couldn't find one, she created one. I'm introducing you today to the CEO and founder of Zingeroo, Zoë Barry. Zoë, welcome today. 

[00:00:13] Zoë: Thank you joy. Great to be here. 

[00:00:16] Joya: Zoë, I want to talk about the social trading platform, but I actually want to go back to your first venture because the fact that the data was so important as germane to your company today.

So let's talk about zap RX and why you founded it. 

[00:00:28] Zoë: Sure. Yeah. I found a zapper X based on a personal problem that our family experienced. I had a family member that got diagnosed with a rare disease and needed access to a very expensive medication that's called a specialty drug. Usually they're about a hundred thousand dollars per patient per therapy per year.

And it took my family member about six months to get on therapy. And I thought that was just terrible because this was such a, challenging, health issue and they needed the medication right away. So I wore my analyst hat from when I worked at the hedge fund Dawson capital, and I basically tracked all the technology systems and saw what existed in the market and saw that it was really inefficient.

It was simply fax, phone calls and voicemails, which was leading to these multi months delay. So I set out to build the Amazon prime, $400,000 medications with the goal of getting patients on pave therapy in 24 hours or less. That was quite, I was biting off a lot as a first time founder. But I certainly, I didn't realize how hard it was to build a company, let alone one in the healthcare space. Sometimes I joke that ignorance is bliss and not knowing how hard something is actually, makes you fearless to go out and build a product.

And I didn't know how hard it was to raise money. I didn't know how hard it was to build a team. I didn't know. You know what it was like to build a product and deploy it nationwide. I didn't know what it was like to get all the certifications that one needs in order to have a compliant product that they were looking to scale.

So it was quite the. Quite the journey. And I figured it out. I used to say that it's like creating little Lily pads that you hop across, and trying to figure out how to do each individual step. And then by the time you connected a whole bunch of Lily pads, you've managed to hop across an ocean.

[00:02:31] Joya: So the data is what was so valuable. You ultimately ended up selling the company to Allscripts. Tell me about why that was so important? 

[00:02:40] Zoë: Sure. So Allscripts had a really large healthcare footprint. So our product, we had deployed it at some of the top hospitals nationwide. And what we were doing was basically helping doctors and nurses better understand what was required when writing a prescription.

And we had a full national view of what that looked like as opposed to a single hospital in a single state that only sees one view with local insurance. And in thinking about how to have the greatest impact. It was important to try to get Zap RX into the hands of as many clinicians as possible. And so ultimately Allscripts acquired the company because they realized they couldn't build a, we had built and it was going to be much more efficient, to acquire zapper X because we have.

Worked with so many different EHR systems before, and so they were getting access to clinicians that were outside of their current Allscripts EHR footprint, but also they were able to deploy zap RX within their own footprint. So it was a win-win for every. 

[00:03:43] Joya: EHR. What does that stand for? I'm sorry. I don't know what that phrase is. 

[00:03:46] Zoë: Electronic health record. So each hospital picks an EHR electronic health record vendor. So some of the top ones are epic or Cerner or Allscripts or Athena health, which I had worked at Athena health. So an EHR does not always do e-prescribing, that's often another vendor and there was no e-prescribing for specialty drugs, which is what Zap RX created.

[00:04:09] Joya: So zip over to today, it's Christmas time. You're dueling with your brothers on the direction of the market, and you decide to gift them the social trading platform. How does one decide to go from a debate to that? 

[00:04:21] Zoë: So I should also reference that I'm one of eight children. So that's a very modern family, two different sets of kids put together and we are, we really love each other and we're hyper competitive.

A lot of us were athletes that took sports to very high level. And we're used to competing on just about everything. Whether it's how many Christmas presents did you get, or who won the Turkey trot? We were a big, big Turkey chop family. But this particular company, the Genesis of it was a heated dinner table conversation.

So we were looking at a specific security, a specific stock, and each of us had a slightly different trading idea. And we got into a big debate, and I needed something cool to give my brothers for Christmas. And so they were econ majors at Stanford. I had actually worked at a hedge fund. And so I wanted to say, "let's put our money where our mouth is."

Who's the best trader here at the family? Let's just stop making this a debate, hypothetical dinner table conversation. Let's try to make this real. So I gave each person a couple hundred dollars and we opened up trading accounts. And the idea is that we would now get to see who is the best investor.

Unfortunately, we opened up our trading accounts and quickly realized there was no way to share trades with each other. The best we could do was screenshot and create a text message group. And that was just candidly, not the experience that we were looking for. And we were pretty surprised. Again, I talked about this before where ignorance is bliss, not necessarily knowing all the rules and regulations and challenges, in terms of why an idea in this case was so obvious it was like inventing the post-it note, why it would be so hard to get off the ground. But the real conundrum was, we can do things like chat with our Uber drivers or chat with our Instacart shoppers. How in the world, can we not benchmark our trades against each other?

This seems crazy. And we had zero inches. And creating a fantasy portfolio that was paper trades, because paper trading doesn't, you don't sharpen your pencils the same way for paper trading that you do with, you know, you have $500, you have to see who's actually going to make the most money. 

[00:06:23] Joya: So Zingeroo now has something called a bullpen where you can not only share the performance of your portfolio, but how you are trading. Your actual techniques.

[00:06:34] Zoë: Yeah. So, when we think about bullpens, that's replacing the chat group that you had with your friends, which is what my brothers and I were very much looking to do. It's also, I would say a better way to get verified information versus an online chat forum where you may be getting trolled by an anonymous personality.

Who again, could be sharing screenshots of somebody else's trades and egging them on and have be, you know, have an influencer big following, but not actually really investing their own money. So anyone who is on Zingeroo has gone through the KYC and AML process, which is know your customer anti money laundering.

So you're a verified user and you can only have one account. You can't have multiple accounts, so you can't sway trades or anything like that. And we have something called a trading card, which is a verified tree that you can share with your position. So if you have made a trade on Zingeroo, and only on Zingeroo you can then share that trade.

If you have done really well. If it's bragging rights, I know I was in a boat. I was so proud of myself. I was up 425% on a Snapchat call. I thought I was crushing it. And then someone else, you know, came in with, they were up 1200% on an Exxon mobile call. And it was interesting because it got us talking about macro trends, right?

I hadn't thought much about energy, but it got us talking about geopolitical issues and thinking about what the opportunities are. Obviously there've been changes in the apples, terms and conditions, which has negatively impacted some of the other social media companies. And so all of a sudden you're trading ideas, trading articles that you've read, better understanding at issues in the market. And that leads to people who are educating themselves about what's happening. And that's a really important sort of element of Zingeroo which is weaving in education through weaving in competition. 

[00:08:19] Joya: And you're also offering a level of transparency. Who else in the market is offering the kind of transparency that you're offering?

[00:08:25] Zoë: Not a lot. I mean, you think of some of the traditional players are still solo trading. It's just you and a petri dish, and there's no way to share your trades other than that screenshot and text messages. There's a couple other social platforms have come up with ideas like walls, the old Facebook wall, where you can post information in your SPI hashtag bullish or bearish on a stock.

But that sentiment doesn't necessarily trade through. Sorry. That sentiment does not necessarily flow through to actual trades. And so people can be really chatty about what they think about something that doesn't necessarily mean that's where they've actually made an investment. And so Zingeroo is really pioneering that this is something I've actually made an investment in.

Here's my thesis. I'm going to defend it or someone else can tell me why they have a different opinion. 

[00:09:08] Joya: So it's education, it's transparency. And it sounds like you're also generating a novel stream of revenue by doing. 

[00:09:16] Zoë: For us, I think the revenue side comes in on subscriptions. So you can sign up for subscriptions on Zingeroo and we offer different tiers of data packages.

So you can unlock different depth of data. So usually people are starting out. They're just understanding a stock more with typical analyst ratings. And then we offer a partnership that we've done with quiver quants. You can get quiver quant data and that unlocks a deeper cut. So things like Senate trading data, what's Nancy, Pelosi's husband doing? Insider trading data.

What are people who are current shareholders doing? How are they selling their stock or not right now? Things like that. And so the, those more sophisticated cuts are for people who are leveling up their trading skills and it doesn't have to be something that you sign up for right away. You can level up your trading skills and get deeper into research, which I think is really positive.

[00:10:08] Joya: You've seen a wave of new investors come in over the course of the pandemic. And it's interesting the way that gen Z versus the millennials versus the other generations are trading. And I wondered if you could share what are those trends that you're seeing? 

[00:10:20] Zoë: Yeah. So we saw an in early Q1, there was a lot of frothiness in the market.

There was a lot of chatter, at the end of Q4 that the feds were raising interest rates. And what impact would that have on the markets? And would that create some sort of turbulence would companies sort of reset? We've been in a 10 year plus bear run. What does that mean? And what a lot of the news articles were saying in December was gen Z and millennials have never seen a bear market before.

And so they don't know what they're going to do. They're going to be totally shocked by what happens next. And what we saw was that there were different trading patterns across the generations. So we saw gen X-ers typically created a stop loss limit orders, where you basically said, if you're down 10 or 15%, and there was a correction auto liquidate. And they did not necessarily buy again, they just kind of held out and they were, that generation also lost out.

If they had lost a lot of money in the 2008 financial crisis, they were not buyers. There were not a lot of inflows for them in 2009. So they really missed buying the bottom. And they took a couple years to come back. We started to see that trend emerge in our early data, it's obviously has not been five years.

 But it certainly, we didn't see them start jumping in and buying. Millennials tried and true by the dip. That group of investors they love to buy the dip because they came in at the end of a bull run where everything was really expensive and it wasn't really dollar cost averaging, but close to at any time the market pulls back a little bit.

Stock they really believed in, they would jump into. The most sophisticated and surprising were the gen Z. Gen Z saw that a criticism that was leveled at them, they had never been through a bear market. So they sharpen their pencils and they started doing things like put a lot of interest on the S Q Q Q, which is the short of the, you know, technology growth stocks.

They were sophisticated enough to say, I don't know which stock is going to pull back the most. I don't love buying a put on something. And I don't know what's going to take off and where I should buy a call or where I should buy equities and double down, but I'm going to have some interest on the S QQQ cause that basket is going to pull back and it's going to pull up back a, roughly three X, what the stock would have been doing had it been growing.

And that was actually what a lot of the institutionals were doing. And so it was a much more sophisticated trading strategy than one could ever really have predicted for a retail investor. 

[00:12:43] Joya: But that's still information for you and that's data, which brings me back to your superpower when you are building the company that you sold to.

[00:12:51] Zoë: Yeah. And it took us a long time to unlock data packages there. Right? So I would say, you know, Zap RX, we had to do things like test the product early, then get all the certifications, then begin to build and scale the product, then deploy the product nationwide, then get people to use it. And then we had data that we could package and monetize.

And so we're not monetizing any data at Zingeroo yet. But certainly, that is a sweet spot of mine. That is something I'm fascinated by, I believe in democratization of finance, if I'm generating really unique data, that could be something that is a data package that is ultimately sold to our users.

If you're contributing data, you should have an access to also tap into that data. And so certainly that's something that we're thinking of for the. 

[00:13:33] Joya: The Bloomberg terminal has been the holy grail to date. Do you think that you're taking them on? 

[00:13:39] Zoë: We certainly are generating a unique data on the retail investor.

I don't think a lot of retail investors are doling out $150,000 for a Bloomberg terminal. So sure. This could definitely be something they should look over their shoulder or lean into. And obviously, big companies are often looking at partnering with smaller, innovative, more nimble companies. So there's lots of opportunities that have.

[00:14:01] Joya: So on Zingeroo, you can trade equities, fractional equities, ETFs, and what else? 

[00:14:07] Zoë: Options and crypto coming soon. 

[00:14:09] Joya: Okay. And then you have something called a leaderboard. So it goes back to your roots of being competitive with your siblings. There's a way for you to also be competitive with other folks on the platform.

[00:14:18] Zoë: Yeah, we launched this really cool feature called a zone. And the zone is a competition. So you can, in your private bullpen, if you had three or four people that you're really close with, you could create private trading competitions with them. So that goes back to that dinner table conversation. And if you wanted to take it to a broader level and understand more what the community is doing.

You can enter the community-wide, competitions, which are zones, which are competitions. So something like a portfolio zone, we do weeklies. Every month we do a portfolio zone. You can basically see what your peers are doing in the marketplace. And I really like it because sometimes I'm at the top of the leaderboard and sometimes I'm at the bottom of the leaderboard.

One thing I've seen pretty consistently is that a lot of the meme stockholders are consistently at the bottom of the leaderboard. And that gets to a criticism, like what are the fundamentals of some of these companies? And that gets into the issues of there's a lot of chatter about things online, 60% of millennial investors and gen Z indexers are acting on investment advice that they receive online and online can be an online forum versus cnn.com. Right? Or any of the other sort of news outlets that one perhaps could be reading and that is not necessarily a great thing is to just follow where the chatter is. And so those leaderboards bring transparency to what people are holding. It doesn't tell you everything. It doesn't tell you if something was a put or a call or an equity, but it shows you what they're holding.

And so I've seen things like Exxon that was not a stock that I thought, you know, I knew enough about energy in order to be an investor in Exxon mobile, but then seeing some people consistently at the top of the leaderboard, I've become curious about that stock. I have not taken a large position in energy, but now I'm looking at energy in a more macro sense.

So you think about electric vehicles, you think about oil, you think about, you know, renewable energy is. And so this is now an area that I'm becoming very curious about, and that really stemmed from these leaderboards. And I don't think I would have necessarily had the confidence to say, oh, I'm going to be an energy investor, but there's clearly something there.

And it's a trend that I would like to tap into. And, it's something that I would really like to better understand myself and add to my portfolio. 

[00:16:34] Joya: So there's trends, you can read the tea leaves and get curious. 

[00:16:37] Zoë: Yes exactly. 

[00:16:39] Joya: Right. Zoë, in the last remaining 10 minutes, I have a question from Courtney. Courtney is an exercise physiologist.

She's in the Hudson valley, she's a mom, she considers herself a beginner or an intermediate. And so when she's coming to your product and she wants to know how to start to engage, what would you recommend for someone who isn't at the esoteric level that you are? Some of the younger generations are, but someone who is from our generation.

[00:17:04] Zoë: Yeah. So I think when you open a Zingeroo account, so you'd go through the whole process or opening a broker dealer account. So it's a real, you're going to submit your driver's license and all that stuff and open the account. But when you joined some of the zones, you can get, you can again, start seeing what other people are trading.

And I often see younger investors or first-time investors. They like to trade the stocks that they know. So, gen X plus likes to trade Xerox and Microsoft a lot. Right? Those were like the heartthrobs of their generation for companies. Other investors like to trade Uber or Lyft or they want to ultimately own an electric vehicle.

So they like Ford for their electric vehicles that are rolling out. They like Tesla for those electric vehicles. Often moms are very interested in things like, I think it's Pinterest or Etsy. Those are sometimes crest places that they're buying product from Amazon is certainly an area that people understand that product.

And so you can start often by saying, what are products that I use, that I believe in. And do I think that this is a company that I can begin to understand all of their offerings, and then I can get into, EBITDA or I can get into price versus earnings and it takes a while to get to that stage.

 But you can start with just saying what are products that I use to do. And I'm going to create a small portfolio and you've been put aside whatever the right amount is for you, that I would call educational dollars and you start with equities. And then ultimately as you gain confidence, you can move into options and options is not something I would recommend starting out with, if you're a new investor, they're risky, you can lose everything.

We only allow level two options trading on Zingeroo. So you can never owe more than you put in. That was a challenge on other retail trading platforms where people didn't realize they could own more than they put in. So I personally say, think about all the products that you use today. Think about what companies those products come from.

Are those companies publicly traded and then create a dollar amount that you're comfortable investing. And then divvy that dollar amount up with fractional equities across five or seven or 10 different equities that you want to hold and start with equities, don't start with options. 

[00:19:09] Joya: And to be clear, there's no commissions?

[00:19:11] Zoë: There's no commissions on equities, fractional equities, and options. There's a small commission on equity, factional equities in ETFs. There's a small commission on options, but if you sign up for a data package, then it's commission free option trading. 

[00:19:24] Joya: Ritu is a business analyst. She's usually on a consultancy basis with big pharma.

Ritu, do you have a question for Zoë today? 

[00:19:31] Ritu: Yeah. Hi Zoë. It's very exciting. What I'm hearing from you. I have a bad cold. 

 So I hear that you are planning to monetize the data, right? How are you going to deal with the privacy factor? 

[00:19:46] Zoë: Same in healthcare everything's aggregated and de-identified right?

So wouldn't be Zoë, Barry is 37 years old from XYZ state, but has this much money in her portfolio. And this is how the portfolio is allocated. It would be aggregated de-identified data just like in healthcare. 

[00:20:04] Ritu: Okay. And, as compared to like platforms like Robinhood how are you different?

Just because a lot of young people know that and just try to understand, what's your approach. 

[00:20:16] Zoë: Yeah. Most of those platforms that I mentioned are solo trading. Right? So there's no ability to benchmark against your peers. So you get no data by trading on those types of platforms. When you invest and trade on Zingeroo you get data.

So participating in a zone, you are getting perspective and understanding what other people are investing in and what's in their portfolio and who's at the top, middle and bottom of the leaderboard. That's educational that helps bring a new view to what you're doing. And it's all through verified users, as opposed through to trading in a Petri dish, which is what happens when you're with the company that you just mentioned, and then going to an online forum where bots and trolls can recommend holdings that they might not even be actually invested in themselves.

[00:21:04] Joya: Courtney says that she's always left her financial welfare to other people. So it's so wonderful to have a playful platform that makes her want to join in. 

[00:21:13] Zoë: Well, thank you so much, Courtney. And I was going to say, of course, nothing I'm sharing is direct investment advice, but I share how I got started. And I got started by investing in things that I understood as a consumer, and then leveled up into more sophisticated trading strategies like options.

But I didn't do that out of the gates. 

[00:21:31] Joya: So your business model is that you make money off of subscriptions based on how frequent a trader is visiting the platform, but what's next now for Zingeroo? 

[00:21:40] Zoë: Sure. So it's not, it's not how frequently a trader visits platform. It's, you know, you sign up for subscription, right?

Access to different cuts of data. So it's not tied to trading volumes. And it's not something that is encouraging people to trade, right? So I would say zinc Ru or we're really excited to add crypto. I think that's something that the younger generations are really excited for. I would say NFT is or something that we're eyeing for the future, because that's also an investible asset.

And I think some of there's going to be a lot of froth in that, right? So I think an understanding what's a valuable, a way to start in NFTs. And again, it can start similarly to investing in something that, you know, and then getting into more sophisticated trading strategies. So I think the same things will hold true when we add crypto and ultimately look to engage in NFT's.

[00:22:31] Joya: How do you think regulators are going to play in the sandbox in which you already do? 

[00:22:36] Zoë: We have a very positive relationship with regulators. That's something that I really took from my first company. I really was thoughtful about what are the rules and regulations. So you have to be registered with FINRA and the SCC, so we have our broker dealer license, right?

We went out and got that ourselves as opposed to partnering with somebody else. Or as some companies have done launched a trading platform with a no broker dealer license, which is totally not legal. We are really thoughtful about going through the KYC process, making sure that we work with our users to provide them the tools that they need to make investments.

Again, things like only allowing level two options trading, you opt into options trading. It's not something you get out of the gate. These are all like small little nuances, but things we worked closely on with regulators, I would say in my experience, a lot of regulators don't like it when you do the Uber Airbnb move fast and break things. That sets you up for a very chafed relationship at scale.

And we've certainly seen that. There's companies that have recently IPO in the retail trading space that are being hit with fines, and those fines are only going to snowball. And a lot of it comes down to moving fast and breaking things and having a chafed relationship with regulators and not leaning in, in any capacity.

We have an entire trading advisory board and education advisory board. These are things we've shared with the regulators. And so our, in every marketing piece of ours is registered with FINRA. Even if it's funny, even if it's on my social media, right? It's all registered. And so that is something that regulators appreciate when you're leaning in. And I actually think you can move further and be more innovative if you build a positive rapport with regulators. 

[00:24:17] Joya: Zoë we thank you. This is a leadership platform. What is your top most advice when it comes to women's leadership? 

[00:24:24] Zoë: A lot of things I see with women, and I say this based on empirical evidence, is that women are known for making a lot of lists and saying, "I'll be ready to found my company once I get through this list of 10 things that I need to do first." And the reality is you're always going to have a list of 10 things and then 15 things and 20 things. And my strong recommendation is just go get started. You've no idea the number of men that I see that walk in with an idea on a cocktail napkin and say, This company is worth $10 million dollars.

Give me a million dollars at a $10 million valuation. No, this is a huge mistake. If you don't invest in my company right now. And women like to have their ducks in a row and they are not as confident in going out and asking for money when it's just an idea on a cocktail napkin. And that's something that I'm trying to really change.

I'm trying to be more transparent about how I fundraise some of the tips that I've done with fundraising. And I think just going out. Getting started. I figured out how to incorporate the company, figure out, make that first step and then you're going to start moving and I just really encourage more women to go out and follow their dreams.

And sometimes you do have to work two jobs. I've worked two jobs, many a time when I went founding a company and it's so much worth it to have two different options and then drop the full-time gig and go focus on your startup. So I encourage all women to do that. 

[00:25:41] Joya: Zoë we thank you for the time today.

I look forward to watching the progress of Zingeroo and see what you do next. 

[00:25:46] Zoë: Perfect. Well, thank you so much. Have a great day, everyone. Thank you. 

Thank you, Isabella.