I meet a lot of start up executives in the course of a year. Many are involved in Web 2.0 businesses and unfortunately many do not have a clue about how to get a company off the ground or build a web following for their site. Every once in a while I meet someone who "gets it" and I track the development of their business. Such an executive is Daniel Chow. I have been impressed by the continuous improvement and feature expansion of his "Business & Finance Professional Education Network"--Finance 3.0.
Daniel is a full-time executive based in Hong Kong who works for a leading international media company. He formerly held positions with Arthur D. Little, a world class consulting firm, and Deutsche Bank, where he worked in investment banking. His background is analysis and finance and that may explain why I find the content on the site of such good quality--especially in finance and modeling. I spend a lot of time on business and finance sites and Finance 3.0 is one of those rare sites that combines high quality, correct information with the distinct absence of a lot of self-promotion by the participants. In many ways Daniel has achieved what LinkedIn would like to be.
I had the occasion to interview Daniel by email and his responses to my questions are below.
1. Are you the founder?
Answer. Yes I am, along with my wife Retha and sister Michelle. The 3 of us are all experienced finance professionals with several years of experience working with Wall Street firms, Big 4 CPA firms and multi-national businesses across the Asia Pacific region. We feel fortunate to have the depth of talent and resources within the family, which allows us to make decisions and respond to customer requests quicker then others.
2. When did it start?
Answer. We started our sister site - Financial Modeling Guide - in June 2007. A community element was added - Financial Modeling Community - in Feb 2008. In Oct 2008, the community was rebranded Finance 3.0. Finance 3.0 is now the "mother ship", with Financial Modeling Guide (and hopefully other finance & accounting sites, with time) forming part of the Finance 3.0 network.
3. XXXXX is your full time job and Finance 3.0 is your night job?
Answer. Not just nights, but weekends and almost all holidays as well :) As much as I would love to work on Finance 3.0 full-time, it is only prudent for us to manage our cash flow as we evolve (and bootstrap) the business. However my wife Retha, has recently left her job to work on Finance 3.0 full-time. She spent 8 years with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Singapore and Jakarta, working across their M&A advisory and assurance practices. She now helps to manage our new product development efforts.
4. Future direction for the site?
Answer. Our vision is to build a financial education resource that every finance professional will turn to whenever they have questions and training needs. We currently distribute professional finance products (spreadsheets, software, books, etc) and sell advertising. We are developing a subscription based e-learning product for finance & accounting topics. With time, we hope to evolve a business model with equal-part contribution from subscriptions, e-commerce and advertising.
This business model can only be successful with continued emphasis on quality and balanced editorial (no bias, no spam). Our customers should associate Finance 3.0 as a premium, world-class resource completely focused on their continuing professional education needs. For this reason, I continue to invest a lot of time on the site as a writer and community moderator.
5. What mix of readers / users do you have in terms of geography?
Answer. The United States and India were our 2 largest markets by far. The United Kingdom, Australia and Pakistan follow closely. In the year of 2008, our page views were in the millions, from 222 countries & territories, of which 75% were new visitors. There continues to be a lot of growth potential from both existing and new visitors. We are excited by the opportunity to build a dominant position in this financial media niche, across both developed and developing markets.
Check out Finance 3.0. Well worth the time.