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Juwan Lee connects finance professionals globally with new app NexChange
Juwan Lee, a former hedge fund manager turned entrepreneur is taking the finance world by storm and has created NexChange, a social network exclusively for financial service professionals globally, writes Finbuzz.
Lee is Korean-American and studied and worked in the US, and now lives in Hong Kong. He is no stranger to the world, living in seven different countries and working in financial markets for nearly thirty years. Lee was Head of Long-Short Equity on the Global Proprietary Trading desk in Asia Pacific at JP Morgan before moving within the bank to the asset management division. Before that, he was CIO at Continuity Capital and Osprey Capital Management. He’s managed portfolios for SAC Capital Advisors and was a Senior Portfolio Manager at Rothschild Asset Management during the Asian currency crisis in 1997.
He explains that as a money manager, he took for granted the ease in connecting as people were compelled to reach out to him. It wasn’t until he left that he realized he took it for granted, that it’s not normally so easy to talk to others in the financial world. Lee saw a gap and created NexChange, which is 50 percent for business and 50 percent social.
“Currently there are many niche networks in insurance, real estate, and such but they are too small and can never be large social networks. The overall finance market, banking, asset management, private equity, makes for a massive market globally. The addressable market range is 50-75 million people if you include people in corporations and all types of financial services,” Lee estimated.
When asked if he found the transition from banking to creating a start up easy, Lee said no.
“With a start up the pace is much quicker – rather than theorize you must go out and make changes much faster in terms of execution and feedback. The pros and cons of running your own business are that you have to wear so many hats. This makes the dynamics more inspiring but also more challenging. You have to put in more hours and have very little work-life balance. The window of opportunity is small to take the lead so there is no way to avoid the urgency and time imbalance. In the infrequent moments that I get down time, I like to go to the beach with my family. It could be anywhere as long as the beach is beautiful. But the rest of the time I am flying a lot, working a lot and drinking a whole lot of green tea,” Lee laughed.
When Lee is asked if he looks up to any recent entrepreneurs in technology, Lee says he’s more inspired by the icons from the time when Silicon Valley was first being created. Lee was one of the first investors in Yahoo, Google, and Netscape during the mid-nineties tech boom. He says the changes in technology were greater back then than now. Lee is currently reading a book by Ben Horowitz, an American businessman who wrote, “The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers ”
Lee also admires Andy Grove, the co-founder of Intel, famous his mantra, “Only the paranoid survive.” Lee finds it admirable how Grove propelled Intel to where it is today.
“Trading has changed a lot and it’s more difficult than it used to be. My advice to investors is to do a lot of fundamental work on stock and get to know it in the short term. Focus on risk management and have very strict guidelines on your exit positions. Everyone can access information so you need to be thorough in your research information,” Lee said.
Lee is excited with what is next for NexChange.
“We plan expansion into China in 2016, further expansion into other major US cities like Chicago, San Francisco, and other markets like Germany. Basically, we want to be in all the major cities around the world. We are currently looking for additional financing. We have already raised $2.5 million since inception and are potentially doing another financing round early to mid next year. We are not finished with this round yet which will finish in the next couple of months,” Lee explained.
NexChange has thirty employees in four locations – New York, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and London. NexChange has already started holding Fintech events in Hong Kong. It was awarded a Fintech initiative by a government entity in Hong Kong called Cyberport to co-host events. NexChange is hosting an event every month. The next event is on November 24 and will explore the state of payment processing. Attendees pay and numerous sponsors have already committed, so NexChange is one of the first social networks to monetize from day one, Lee said.
As if Lee doesn’t already have enough going on he also runs a Cayman-based venture capital business, Arrakis Ventures. He controls small stakes but can’t be overly hands on due to his time constraints with growing NexChange.
This story first appeared in FinBuzz.