Founder: Dean Anderson
HQ: Auckland, NZ
What problems do you solve and what products or services do you sell?
Index investing is huge overseas, accounting for more than half of new flows into funds in the USA, but the style is relatively unknown and misunderstood here and we are here to change that with a New Zealand flavour.
Kernel aims to give New Zealanders more choice and control over their investments with a digital wealth solution for engaging and rewarding investing.
Through the smart use of modern technology, we provide a unique customer experience which delivers the information, tools, and products necessary for investors to reach their long-term investment goals.
We develop innovative investment products including new index-tracking funds providing more diverse market exposure. Our unique funds are distributed direct to retail through the Kernel investor dashboard. The funds are also made available to a nationwide network of advisers and wholesale investors.
Who and where are your target customers?
As a digital investment provider, Kernel’s customers are located across the country – in fact, our very first investor came from Hawera in Taranaki!
Our customers are engaged and seeking accessible investment options which will help them accumulate and grow their wealth towards their long term financial goals.
At our core, we are also hoping to contribute to the financial literacy of New Zealanders. Helping people understand simple principles such as being an investor not a trader, and that “picking winners” is just a waste of your time, take much of the risk and stress out of investing in shares, which kiwis do far less than most countries we compare ourselves to.
How and when did you first come up with the idea for your business?
Kernel started as a concept at the end of 2018, driven by demand from our target market and experience in the sector.
We took our teams combined experience, built an entirely digital operating model, and worked closely with global firms such as S&P Dow Jones to launch 3 new index funds, with our NZ Level 9 fund becoming the first ‘small cap’ index fund in NZ.
What are three things about your business that you are proud of?
1) Given that we are operating in a highly regulated space, I’m proud that we were able to go from initial concept to full retail launch in under 12 months.
2) The first wouldn’t have been possible without our team and partners. We’ve pulled together an amazing team of highly experienced individuals who are extremely passionate about the sector and helping our investors achieve their long term investment goals.
We’ve also received a significant amount of support and backing from our supply partners, who all play an important role in the delivery of Kernel.
3) And finally, bringing product innovation to the market. To develop and launch NZ’s first ‘small cap’ index fund is a significant achievement, not just for Kernel, but also in helping play our part in developing a strong and sophisticated capital market. The first of many.
How do you market your business and what advice do you have for others around marketing?
At Kernel we have a focus on serving our current investor base, by providing informative blogs and newsletters that are designed to ensure they develop good investment practices and can make informed decisions. By focusing on our current investor base we can continue to refine and improve our entire offering which will help drive the growth of Kernel.
We support this focus with traditional media and digital advertising as well as hosting educational investor events where we can meet face to face with our current or potential investors. Ultimately, activities which will drive network effects are core to our strategy.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in building your business so far?
Launching a new business in a highly regulated and licensed environment, such as financial services, adds a whole extra layer of complexity to the traditional challenges of launching a new venture. It meant having absolute conviction in the market opportunity, and also co-ordinating a number of third parties on critical paths for a successful launch.
What is the biggest entrepreneur lesson you would like to share with other Kiwis thinking of starting their own business?
Make sure you find partners, staff, co-founders etc that you enjoy working with and who will challenge and support you and your vision. These are the people that you will have a long term relationship with and they will be critical to the success of your business. Bring them on the journey with you and make sure they have bought into what you want to achieve, they will be the ones to drive and support you through the guaranteed ups and downs that lay ahead.