We talked to Scott Duxbury of Nucleus 195 about investment research and COVID-19.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Scott Duxbury: We continue to adapt. Fortunately, my family is still healthy and safe. We have been extra careful as we have a child with an auto-immune issue and need to continue to be careful going ahead. It provides challenges, but you just have to deal with them.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Nucleus195.
Scott Duxbury: I guess I am one of the old school people in the finance world. I started in 1991 in Melbourne, Australia, with a broker-dealer called McIntosh Securities, which was acquired by Merrill Lynch in 1996 where I worked for 20 years. I was a messenger to start with but worked my way up through multiple departments and becoming a head trader on multiple different equity trading desks in Sydney, London and New York. I have also run a trading desk for a Russian bank, opened a trading desk for a German bank in the US and senior roles at two more broker-dealers.
I have always been involved in equity and FX markets and still love them. My business partner, Mehdi Sunderji, and I saw a need to create Nucleus195, the Amazon of investment research, and we are also working on building the TikTok of investment videos. When we were marketing in Paris, we were sitting outside a café and discussing what regulations were doing from a research consumption perspective and how a transparent marketplace could be an easy solution for everyone. As we developed the platform, we also discussed how video is not used enough in investment research, and that became a large part of our platform as well.
How does Nucleus195 innovate?
Scott Duxbury: Look at the way equity trading has evolved in the last 20-30 years, huge changes. When you look at investment research, they have benefited on a technology and data front, but the distribution method hasn’t really changed that much other than moving from hand delivery and mail to email. We provide an easy platform from investors to find or subscribe to unique investment ideas that aren’t found on traditional news sources. We also provide an access point where investors can schedule calls with analysts and corporates. In addition, we are providing the investment community with free access to educational videos about markets, themes, investment tools in an unbiased way as we are not associated with any investment banks. We are truly independent.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Scott Duxbury: We watch every penny that we spend so on that front we were well prepared. We did a series of videos at the end of January speaking with experts from around the globe talking about how it will impact markets, and that helped us to be ahead of the curve in preparation of what was to come, but we didn’t imagine it would be as bad as what it was/is. With both co-founders having auto-immune issues in their respective houses we made a move in early March to work remotely which has its initial challenges, but we ran the company without skipping a beat, and our clients did not see a drop off in service.
We did cut back on some subscription products that we use and found that while they were good to have, they have not changed our day to day efficiency. We have had a lot of clients reaching out and asking for help, and our platform has been a good solution for them. We have also seen a large pick up in our corporate client accounts as well as they found our corporate solutions packages and simple product that they can customize to their own needs. They also found us as an easy solution during Covid as we already had an easy solution built to consume and connect with research providers, and with it being free to join it’s not a hard sales pitch.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Scott Duxbury: With a startup, there are always difficult choices. When an employee isn’t performing or pulling their weight, you have to make a change quickly and be confident that you are making the right choice. You cannot second guess yourself. We have made similar decisions before and as a result, were positioned well even though we didn’t realize that we were prepared for what was to come. We have a low overhead structure and something that we will continue to have going ahead.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Nucleus195 in the future?
Scott Duxbury: There are always different types of stress and anxiety that you have to deal with. With a young family and a startup, the stress can add up really quickly, and I am fortunate that I have a great support network starting with my wonderful wife, as well as family and friends. My wife knows when I am stressed and asks how she can help and is always looking to help.
It is very important to take a breakthrough from your work. That can be playing outside with the kids or even just sitting out the front of your house watching life go by. Sometimes I just take a day without touching anything related to work, although I still glance at emails, it is very refreshing just to take a day away from it.
Mehdi and I have a vision, and we see where the industry is changing and heading to. We have so many funds that say that what we are doing is the way of the future. We need to continue leading by example but most importantly listening to our customers and seeing how they want things to change.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Scott Duxbury: There are other investment research marketplaces around the world, but none encompass all the tools that we have. Individual reports, subscriptions, bespoke research, analyst calls, corporate access, corporate solutions packages and a video network. We already have an excellent partnership network and have more in the pipeline, and that will continue to see us lead in this field.
Your final thoughts
Scott Duxbury: Startups are not easy. Anyone thinking about it needs to understand that, but it is rewarding when you start to see your vision working, and it’s very exciting. COVID-19 has obviously impacted so many companies negatively, but we will get through this. If your company doesn’t, that is not necessarily a reflection on you. Don’t lose faith in yourself. You can do this, we all can.