SumZero's CEO Divya Narendra was recently featured on The Meb Faber Show, an investing podcast with over 3.5M downloads, to discuss SumZero's evolution from an idea to a fledgling community of industry peers and finally, to its current form - over 16,000 individuals sharing ideas, posting job opportunities, and raising institutional capital. In this interview, Narendra shares anecdotes from SumZero's 10+ year history and plans for future growth, plus his take on other emergent trends from robo-advisors to the rise of low-fee ETFs.
Narendra notably describes conceiving of the SumZero idea while working as an analyst at Sowood Capital, a Boston-based hedge fund, and launching a "skeleton version" of the site during the 2008 credit crisis. When Sowood Capital eventually folded, he found himself at an inflection point in his career and decided to create SumZero in earnest, drawing on his entrepreneurial background and the personal network he had accumulated on the buy-side.
Narendra recalls the early stages as a true 'chicken and egg' scenario. With no users and no content, how did he convince buy-side professionals to not only join but interact with the platform and share their ideas?
"The first couple months of SumZero were almost crude. I would just get on the phone with [PMs and Analysts] from my living room and ask them to send me a list of all their analyst contacts...they trusted that the site would improve over time and get better but you kind of have to kickstart the flywheel by brute force. There was just nothing else [like this] out there and we really gained a foothold that way."
Since then, SumZero has grown considerably - with over 13,000 pieces of high-conviction research and the development of our Cap Intro and Job Vault services. SumZero has orchestrated numerous allocator-sponsored idea contests and helped catalyze over $450M in investments via our internal fundraising platform, Cap Intro.
Divya has been featured on CNBC, Forbes, Barron's, WSJ, Business Insider, and the New York Times for his work with SumZero.