Dublin’s Aikido to raise €5m for its mission to ‘democratise Wall Street’

29 Nov 2021

Co-founders Conor Naylor, Tom Nolan, Dan Roberts and Shane Monks O’Byrne. Image: Aikido

Aikido aims to break traditional investment barriers by giving people the ability to make data-driven decisions. The start-up plans to raise fresh funding next year, expand its team and launch in the US.

Quantitative finance is not a term familiar to most people outside the realms of investing, but that might soon change. One Dublin company, Aikido Finance, is trying to make it accessible and remove traditional barriers to the stock market and crypto.

A data-driven approach to investing, quantitative finance is used for the trades made on Wall Street or by large hedge funds. It utilises the power of computers to help people make investment decisions.

Aikido Finance, an Irish start-up founded last year by Shane Monks O’Byrne, Tom Nolan, Conor Naylor and Dan Roberts, is planning to raise €5m in Series A funding next year to develop its platform that lets individual investors access quantitative finance in a bid to maximise returns.

O’Byrne, Aikido’s chief executive, told SiliconRepublic.com that around 90pc of trades on Wall Street every day are made using quantitative finance with the help of computers.

“Traditionally, quantitative finance has been confined to elite hedge funds and sophisticated financial institutions. It has high barriers to entry because it requires a lot of coding and data science experience, financial knowledge, technology and capital.”

Aikido’s platform requires no prior coding or data science knowledge, unlike other services such as US-based QuantConnect, and users can start investing “almost for free” because the company eliminates the traditional middle players such active fund managers.

Eyes on the US

After months of beta testing, Aikido launched its platform to the public in August and set out to “democratise Wall Street”. It raised more than $1m in seed funding, with backing from 14 institutional and angel investors including US VC firm GoAhead and Enterprise Ireland.

Now a team of six, Dublin-based Aikido plans to grow its team to at least 10 people by early 2022 as part of its wider expansion plans. O’Byrne said that Aikido’s eyes are on the large US market, where it plans to launch its platform next year.

O’Byrne also said that the funding will help Aikido realise some of the big plans he has for the fintech start-up, including a long-term goal of potentially becoming a broker itself – depending on how the next 18 months play out. It is also launching a crypto feature on the platform this week.

The new hires next year will range from developers and designers to quantitative analysts with “a shared obsession for investing”, he said. Additional staff will help Aikido cope with the demand it has experienced since its public launch in August.

Naylor, who is the CFO of Aikido, said that its subscription-based platform can appeal to investors who want to build their own portfolios with minimal effort. “These are exciting times and, since our launch earlier this year, the demand for our platform has exceeded forecasts.”

The name Aikido is inspired by a modern Japanese martial art. O’Byrne said the name was chosen to reflect the company’s philosophy of helping people make informed decisions.

“Aikido is a calm, calculated martial art, with no scope for being rash or making decisions on the spot. In Aikido you use your opponent’s momentum against them. And in the world of quantitative finance, momentum is a very important investing indicator.”

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic