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Broker Interviews

Making an Impact with Birdwingo

Mariangela Martinez
Mariangela Martinez

We interview Andrej Hano, founder of Birdwingo, on Making an Impact.

Birdwingo is an app where young people invest in what they believe in, starting with 1 Euro.

Watch the whole interview:


Mariangela: Hi, Andre, how are you?

Andre: Thanks a lot. I'm, I'm fine, how are you?

Mariangela: I'm good, thank you. Let's wait a little bit for people to join. So Andre is the founder of Birdwingo and we're in Alpaca. So let's see. So I'm Mariangela Martinez, Content Marketing Specialist at Alpaca. And today we have Andre Hano, founder of Birdwingo. Andre, can you give us an intro about yourself?

Andre: Oh, first of all, thanks a lot for having me, really appreciate it. So I'm as, as you said, I'm the co-founder of Birdwingo and a little bit about myself. I originally come from Slovakia. That's where I was born and raised. But then for the past few years, I've actually lived in the United States then in London, the Netherlands, London again, Germany, and then I moved to Prague where we set up the company, Prague in the Czech Republic. But our team is pretty international and I've always, always really enjoyed traveling around. I've been to Mexico City where you're located as well and it's been a blast.

Mariangela: Amazing. That's great that you've traveled everywhere and lived everywhere. That's so fun. Let's see. So, before diving into the questions, I want to say for the listeners, any topic talked about in this interview is not financial investment and or tax advice. We encourage our listeners to seek individual advice, should they deem it necessary. And Alpaca and Birdwingo are not affiliated and neither are responsible for the liabilities of the other. So, Andre, can you give us, can you tell us what Birdwingo is about?

Andre: Yes, happy to do so. So, Birdwingo is an investing app for Gen Z and Millennials in Europe who try to do something smart with their money, who are not professionals but who are beginners or sort of intermediate investors and really want to make sure that they can take advantage of compounding and of investing over the long term. And they also want to do it with a positive social impact. So we don't care just about the financial returns. Of course, that is extremely important, but also about having positive social impact.

Mariangela: Amazing, thanks. So why did you decide to create an investing app?

Andre: So we've, we've seen a gap in the markets, especially in central and eastern Europe, but also sort of all across the Europe as we were investigating further. And we saw that many times you have these super legacy investing platforms or banks which overcharge you huge amounts of fees and that basically eats into your profits. And we were like, this is not fair, like this is not how it's supposed to be like this is not good for young people. And so we decided to create an app that is actually super friendly in terms of the user experience, super friendly in terms of its mission. So we also give 10% of our fees to charities. Currently supporting in three charities, in supporting humanitarian causes in Ukraine because we strongly believe that what is happening in Ukraine is not OK. And we strongly oppose the aggression. And so we saw this gap on the market and we wanted to fill it, especially for our generation for GenZs and for young millennials.

Mariangela: That's great. Actually, now the app looks more appealing now that you say that you guys donate to charity. Congratulations about that. That's really good.

Andre: Thank you. Down the road what we wanna do is we want to allow everyone to be able to pick where the 10% goes according to causes that you believe in. Be it climate change, be it renewal, be it LGBTQ+ rights or anything else that you believe in.

Mariangela: That's amazing. And that's in the pipeline for later.

Andre: Correct.

Mariangela: Oh, amazing. So, OK, how does Birdwingo help young investors?

Andre: Yep. So it especially allows them to start and this may sound very sort of easy to say but it's actually super difficult, especially for beginners in Europe where just around 15% of people of the adult population invests into anything, be it, stocks ETFs, mutual funds, crypto whatever. And we really wanted to make sure that these people, these young people have some sort of a tool that makes it easy for them to start and it's easy for them to save money for something that they care about. Be it this creating vacation. Be it maybe just like a new sneakers or sort of saving money for retirement or for a mortgage.

Mariangela: Ok. Now, is there an age that they have to, you know, to be in order to join Birdwingo?

Andre: Yeah. So you have to be 18 and older. Of course, this is a legal requirement and but otherwise, of course, we are mostly focusing, as I said on GenZs and millennials, but it works absolutely fine with my 61 year old dad and he hasn't been complaining so far, so.

Mariangela: Amazing. So it's very user friendly.

Andre: Correct. We try to simplify things and because one of the pain points that we've, that we keep hearing over and over is that everything is all of these other platforms, all of these other sort of services are extremely, extremely difficult. There are these complicated crafts, technical, fundamental analysis and everyone keeps bombarding you with information and many times you just want to invest in one specific thing and you don't want to be doing this on a long term basis, regularly or invest in multiple things. But not sort of care that much about all of these, all of these other things.

Mariangela: OK. Amazing. So what have you struggled with the most in launching Birdwingo?

Andre: Very good question. Of course, we keep sort of learning from mistakes and we keep doing a lot of experiments to be honest. So always sort of like experiment with new features. We look at we give those features to users and then based on that we, we either sort of deployed a feature or not, we sort of iterate and so on. And of course, like we've been very ambitious and we've always wanted to like, get to the market extremely fast. And this was, this was really tough for us, especially me and Adam, the other co-founder to basically understand that some things take time and this has been extremely, extremely painful for us. But we're, we're sort of getting there. Trying to be as fast as possible.

Mariangela: Yeah, I mean, there's a lot of laws and licenses that you need to get in order to have a trading app. So that takes time.

Andre: Yeah, that is correct. And like, very specifically, this is definitely like one of the things that like in Europe things are not super, super easy to understand. We've engaged over three, we've actually engaged three different law firms just to understand how the setup should work. And because, it's even though things should be relatively standardized, in many cases they are not. And so the national regulations many times are in conflict with the EU regulations and it's super difficult to get your head around this.

Mariangela: Yeah. So, what countries are you operating in right now?

Andre: So we are, we are operating in all EU countries. So it's basically you can, anyone in the EU can download this, anyone with an EU sort of ID card or passport can actually download it even if they're living abroad, be it in the United States, be it in the United Kingdom or anywhere else actually. And in the future, of course, we're looking to go further outside of Europe as well. But at the moment from the regulatory point of view, that is the factor that limits us. And so we're just focusing on Europe at the moment.

Mariangela: Ok. It's funny that you call it limit when it's actually a lot of countries. So that's really good. Yeah. Let's see. So how long have you been with Alpaca, working with us?

Andre: So we started, we contacted you, I think for the first time, this was a year and a half ago, maybe around that time. And ever since, so we started integrating, we started sort of looking at the setup, how things can work. And we've been honestly very, very happy with how the service has been working. And so once we were integrated, then we launched as soon as possible for our private beta users and then released it into public beta. And then actually a few weeks ago, we released it for everyone. So it's now anyone can download it from App Store or Google Play Store.

Mariangela: Amazing. Well, congratulations for that.

Andre: Thank you.

Mariangela: So how has Alpaca helped your business? Besides, you know, going to the launching phase.

Andre: It was extremely convenient to partner with you guys because you have this startup DNA and that really worked very well for us. So you move fast, very fast when it comes to product development and sort of like new product releases. And this was, this was really, really something that we appreciated. We also really appreciated the fact that it allowed us to start in a sandbox, basically test out the different features, test out at the different ideas that we had and then being able to sort of get your feedback and, and basically get your feedback on the regulatory side as well. And on the technical side, get your advice. And this, this was really, really helpful. Saved us a lot of money and nerves.

Mariangela: Oh, that's good. I mean, we're happy to help you and be with you in this process. So, you've told us a little bit about your pipe pipeline. But where do you see Birdwingo in 3 to 5 years?

Andre: So we want to be the most popular app for GenZs and Millennials, especially young millennials in Europe. That is our goal for the upcoming years. And that means that we want to be a platform where people really enjoy investing both in terms of the user experience, in terms of the fees. At the moment, we're among the cheapest trading apps in Europe. We also allow people to invest from as little as $1 which basically makes it accessible to everyone no matter if you have €10 to invest per month or if you have tens of thousands of euros, we basically want to allow anyone to start investing, be it if you have a lot of knowledge or if you don't, we want to be able to welcome you. And this is very important for these groups of people, especially for those who really don't have a clue how to start the 85% of people who don't invest at the moment in Europe, we are focusing mostly on those.

Mariangela: OK. That's good. That's actually more than Mexico. So that's good. So are you targeting also female investors? So you have that in the pipeline as well?

Andre: Correct. This is for us extremely important. I've always been extremely puzzled by the fact that if you look around, if you look around at the banking products, you look at these legacy stock brokers and so on, you see that many times or most of the time, they actually target all of these products to men. And I was always surprised and this was always super close to my heart. We wanted to make sure that female investors are also empowered. We wanted to give them the tool to be able to gain financial independence, to gain control of their finances and to not make them scared. So all of so many of these other apps are basically looking at these male investors and trying to target them as much as possible. Whereas there's this like other half of the population that no one else, especially in Europe is talking about. And so we wanted to make sure that actually they also get a chance to take advantage of this. And just to give you an example, so there's a fidelity research coming from the US, but most likely the data would be very similar in Europe as well. On average, a female investor earns 0.4% more on an annual basis while investing than a male investor. And when I heard this, I was like, wow, like that's, that's amazing. And why are there not more people, more females investing? So that's what we want. That's what we're trying to revolutionize as much as possible. We're also going to university campuses and doing a lot of sort of awareness there and engaging with the local communities as well.

Mariangela: That's great. Yeah, there's a huge gap. So actually, I recently joined this, it's like a group of, of, you know, people that invest outside of Alpaca, just like me personally. And it's like a group of like 230 people and I was the second girl. So I was like, out of 230. I was like, what? Like, we need to change that, you know.

Andre: Imagine like how many times girls feel when they enter these sort of circles. If you're the only one there, you are not likely to come the second time. And that's the same, it's the same thing as if you join a company, which is 95% male. Statistically speaking, you are more likely to leave than if you are with a company that is actually pretty well diversified and the same happens with investing and this is something that we as a society definitely needs to tackle. And especially in Europe, especially in some parts of Europe, which are perhaps a little bit more conservative. We need to make sure that everyone gets a chance to invest, everyone gets a chance to manage their own money because this helps you with sort of like becoming more powerful and having control of your life.

Mariangela: Yeah, I agree. So this next question we actually ask everyone that we get to interview. So, what do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started out?

Andre: I would say how difficult these things are and how complicated things are. But in the meantime, also how rewarding it can be to run a startup and to work on something that you really believe in. I've never imagined, I used to work as a strategy consultant before, I've never imagined that building a startup or a technology company with a very, very strong mission can be so rewarding.

Mariangela: Yeah, that's great. You learned a little bit of patience

Andre: For sure. This is extremely important. Especially these days, you see companies all across the world, whether than being legacy or sort of startups, shifting more and more from shareholder capitalism to stakeholder capitalism and really taking care of their users, their sort of partners, their employees and the wider society. And we want to be part of this wave, we really strongly believe in this. We want to have a positive impact, we really care about this. We want to have a positive impact on the wider society. We want to have a positive impact on our users on sort of wider society in terms of supporting different causes, in terms of charities and so on. And this is what we see, the younger generations are super eager to support because they no longer care about just making money, but they care about actually more than that. And so this is incredible and whenever we hear user feedback and people being like, yeah, like this is what we love, like this is what we really, really care about and it's good that you're building it, it always sort of drives us forward.

Mariangela: Yeah. Yeah, totally agree. You bring out some really, really good points. So for the people that are watching, you can check out and then you have Instagram @birdwingo and on LinkedIn as Birdwingo, so they can contact you. You can go to their site and learn more about Birdwingo or join Birdwingo if want to start investing.

Andre: Right.

Mariangela: Andre, thank you so much for joining. It was a pleasure having you here with us.

Andre: It was a pleasure. Thanks a lot. Really appreciate it.

Mariangela: Of course. Bye guys. Thanks.

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Mariangela Martinez

Mariangela Martinez is a Content Marketing Specialist, DX & Community at Alpaca. She loves working in the Fintech industry and is invested in how it is changing.