Interview with Juwan Lee, CEO of NexChange

Tell us about NexChange and how did this project come about (what inspired you to create the app)
NexChange is a professional social network for the financial services industry. It allows users to engage with industry specific content, connect and chat with peers, and enrich their professional network. Being a portfolio manager for so many years, I was so used to getting information and being able to connect with other finance professionals. After I left the industry I realized I had to go to multiple sites to do this. After some research I realized there really wasn’t a global financial services social network.  There were niche networks but not one that expanded globally for all aspects of financial services. Creating NexChange was to solve my own pain point.

What’s your personal background.

Juwan Lee

Before I became the founder and CEO of NexChange, I spent nearly 30 years within the financial services industry managing portfolios for hedge funds, proprietary trading desks and asset managers. Formerly, I was the Chief Investment Officer for the international division of Shanghai’s largest asset management firm. I spent numerous years at JP Morgan in a variety of roles from principal investments to heading equity within the asset management division. I was an early pioneer in managing technology portfolios on behalf of hedge funds like SAC Capital and asset managers like Rothschilds and Montgomery. I was also an original institutional investor in Netscape and Yahoo. I hold an engineering degree from the University of California / Berkeley.

Who would benefit from using this app?

Anyone within the financial services industry who is tired of having to go on multiple sites to find relevant content and get connect to relevant peers.

What are three things that you want people to know about NexChange?

NexChange has benefited from three major trends: the fintech revolution, the ubiquity of social media, and the emergence of new social network verticals.

NexChange is a global platform with headquarters in New York and presence in Hong Kong and London. We have our own editorial staff curating our own content complemented with nearly three dozen licensed content partnerships.

The company has bought in stellar advisors and board members with first-hand experience and success in startups including: former CIO of Private Markets and Direct Investments of Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), former Chief Strategy Officer and member of founding team of Skype, former CFTC Commissioner of the US, former CFO of Yahoo Asia Pacific and former CEO JP Morgan’s Private Bank Asia Pacific.

Tell us about the experience building the app (how long did it take, did you nexchangeoutsource/build in-house and any learnings to share)

Building an app has been an interesting challenge. The first iteration was just really a test to see if our original theory held water. In Hong Kong, there are unique challenges from finding skilled programmers and incentivizing them properly. We have built our app from both an in-house team and an outsourced strategy. Outsourcing maybe cheaper, but requires quite of a bit of oversight.

How are you promoting the app?

We are promoting our platform through content marketing, digital marketing, PR and partnerships. What’s new is that we’ve added a component of O2O – online meets offline – so we also host events. We found that our O2O events have been amazing in terms of creating connections. Attending events like these, you’re networking, you’re communicating, you’re socializing, you’re getting content and you’re learning about NexChange.

The app is free, what’s your monetization strategy?

We have a freemium pricing scheme. Our business model is very straightforward in that we are looking to make the majority of our revenue from recruiting services and also from advertisement and subscription membership.  Meanwhile, we have already started to monetize through our live events platform.

What do you think of the startup community in Hong Kong?

The startup community is very supportive. We have locations in New York and London and we find when compared to these other locations, Hong Kong has been easier to get started. We also see that the government is really making a concerted effort to provide more education and funding. I am beginning to see more foreign startups wanting to expand to Hong Kong, but it is still in the nascent stages.

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