Published January 12, 2012
At Benzinga headquarters in Southfield, Mich., work is a dirty word.
“It’s one of the worst words you could possibly say,” explained CEO Jason Raznick, founder of the almost two-year-old financial media company. “If you say, ‘I am going to work’ then don’t come in here because when you think of work, you’d rather be home. This is a place to create and build.”
And with partners like Reuters, MarketWatch, and Dow Jones (the latter two owned by FOX Business parent company, News Corporation), Benzinga is doing just that.
“We provide financial news, but we don’t just try to deliver information--we try to give ideas to investors and traders,” said Raznick. “We call it news you can use.”
Focused most heavily on small and mid-cap companies, Raznick said his startup, whose site has more than a million unique visitors a month, is hoping to democratize the much maligned investment industry by giving everyone better investment ideas.
“When you want to make an investment, the stock market can be a risky place,” he said. “Most average investors would just buy a stock because they think it’s going to go up. But that’s the way to lose money because you’re not hedging yourself. We give you different ideas on how to invest and how to protect yourself.”
With the help from some former Wall Street analysts, and a host of other hardworking, young researchers, Raznick said Benzinga publishes analysis that was once only available to hedge funds. And, as he pointed out, the company is delivering perhaps the most crucial element investing: information.
The company was started with $20,000 of Raznick’s own money and became profitable in just its first six months. But Raznick decided he needed to invest back into the business, and that pushed it into the red. Now, Benzinga has gotten a $1.5 million in funding from tech investment fund Lightbank, one of the original investors in Groupon.
From his perch as a former financial news writer, Raznick said he saw that individual investors were hungry for a new approach.
“I suggested [Benzinga] to former employers,” he said. “But they didn’t listen--and at 31 years old, it was out of frustration that I decided I should try these ideas myself.”
As Raznick walks proudly around his new Michigan office with his excited employees, it's clear that this entrepreneur took the right risk.
Six Shooter Q&A with Jason Raznick
1. What is your favorite quote and why?
Make better mistakes tomorrow.
I like this quote because it encourages people to not be afraid to try new things. We are about innovation and creation, and if you are afraid to make mistakes, these activities just can’t happen.
2. What is the best and worst thing about building a startup?
There are several great things about startups, but a few that come to mind are: freedom to create something from nothing, ability to disrupt huge hierarchies through creativity, building a team of leaders that can succeed in any kind of adversity and contributing to the world by addressing an unmet need.
The worst thing about building a startup is getting over the norms of traditional work environments and re-teaching employees that they can do anything, talk to anyone and accomplish 10 time more in a workday than most people can.
3. Why will Benzinga succeed?
Benzinga will succeed because we will disrupt a stagnant industry by relentlessly innovating and delivering incredible content, features, service and insight.
4. Where do you think your company will be in five years?
A global leader in providing actionable information to the public.
5. Who is your biggest source of inspiration?
My dad. The idea that he infused into my siblings and me while growing up is “the last four letters of American are I CAN.” My dad is the perpetual optimist and always looks at things as the glass half full.
When I get down, I just reflect how my dad overcame sometimes what seems as insurmountable obstacles to achieve success.
6. Why have a startup in Michigan when a lot of your dealings are in New York? And what is the benefit of having your company outside of a major city?
There is so much untapped potential here it is unbelievable--not to mention that Michigan is my home. There is also so much support here for growing companies, and I am so grateful to the members of the local community for helping Benzinga grow. Plus, because of our large airport, flying to New York or Chicago is just 45 minutes away.
As for being outside a major city-- the positives are things like lower expenses and rent, but more importantly it provides an incentive for employees and me to perform beyond any other company in our industry, so that no one can claim “Aw, well they’re just from a little town.” We want to be the best, regardless of our location.
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