Imagine Bangladesh in 1996. The stock market business was nothing like it is today. Brokers did not have the luxury of the internet (read: Web 2.0). There was barely any organised resource and no real-time data. People read newspapers to decide which stock will bring in more money.
That very year, Mohammed Ali Xahangir started his stint in the brokerage business. Almost two decades down the line, he bootstrapped a start-up named 'AmarStock' with his co-founder Shyan Bin Rahim Rafi.
The developed world was already benefiting from IoT to keep pace with the time-sensitive metrics of the stock market. Xahangir and Shyan wanted to do something similar here.
So, what does AmarStock actually do? We asked Xahangir and Shyan in an interview.
"Stock market is all about large sums of data. Investors need to make quick decisions. There is a big volume of information they have to digest and make the calls for investing. What AmarStock does is provide easy-to-grasp financial analysis, comparable statistics and data summarization for the investors," Xahangir explained.
"Besides our website, we have paid training courses for brokers," Shyan added. He discussed the training courses at length later.
In 2006, Xahangir met Shyan in an internet forum where they discussed stockbroking with like-minded people. For stock business, data charting is required. He himself coded a program to start a new forum, where members had access to data charting.
That very forum could be called the precursor to AmarStock. It ran for roughly four years.
In 2014, Xahangir and Shyan finally thought it was time to pursue what they believed was missing in the stock market scene in Bangladesh - a comprehensive platform where stock market data is properly charted and analyzed.
By 2015, the co-founders were immersed in developing the website for AmarStock. The following year, the start-up secured seed funding from two investors.
It is not that AmarStock is the first of its kind to provide data analysis for stock business in Bangladesh. Nevertheless, while browsing their website, one will notice something unique about the start-up.
"We have tried to make the website as user friendly as it can get," Xahangir said. Stockbroking might seem intimidating for its involvement with complex data and uncertainty. But AmarStock marries multifaceted data analysis with easy to grasp data mapping.
"Just with a few clicks, you can get a good view of the stock world. Earlier, it took a lot of nerve and human interaction to do the same thing," Shyan said, adding, "Like one particular bank's stock? Or want to see how the entire private banking industry is faring in the market? AmarStock can show you the data from every angle you want."
But AmarStock does not just provide data charting about the banking sector. It is a fascinating mechanism that embodies the whole stock market and works as a tool to help brokers decide which stock to go for.
"In the stock market, every second counts. The next second could be a game-changer you might miss out on or vice versa," Xahangir said.
"This is why technology plays a big role when it comes to stockbroking. Gone are the days when one had to rely on manually catered data," he added.
The premium features AmarStock offers include: Real-time quotes, intraday charts, technical studies, advanced charts and stock screening, export screener results, custom ranges and views, layout customization, backtesting technical studies and fundamental stock charts.
In between our conversation, Xahangir and Shyan told us that AmarStock will be launching its app in two months. "With the app, brokers will have more advantages," the co-founders said.
The website already has an alert system via SMS, email or notification. The user has to log in to the AmarStock website and can select a specific stock or a cap he wants to follow and get notified when certain changes occur.
We then asked the co-founders about the training courses.
"Basically, there has never been any structured curriculum for stockbroking in Bangladesh. We decided to launch a number of courses to facilitate the knowledge gap and complement the lack of logistics in stockbroking," Xahangir said.
"We can proudly say that Dhaka Stock Exchange has adopted the curriculum we have created and it is taught by DSE for several courses," he added.
At first, AmarStock initiated in-person training at different venues. They provided hands-on knowledge and capacity building workshops. Later, the co-founders realised it is more efficient to scale their business if they made their courses online.
They have already gone online for greater traction among the trainees. "Our signature course named 'Market Guru' has already gotten over 400 paid subscribers," Shyan said.
How can these courses benefit the stock traders?
The co-founders said that they believe it is imperative that stock market analysis be taught in a systematic way, not through word of mouth of hopeless investors.
"If one learns technical analysis through our training, they can get better knowledge about what to buy and when to sell," Xahangir said. "We do not tell you which stocks to buy. That is your call. We just provide the analytical tools and education."
During the tumultuous time of Covid-19, investment was marginalised. AmarStock was incubated in GP Accelerator, the country's first start-up accelerator program. But due to the pandemic, the demo day of their pitch in front of the investors happened online.
"We believe we could have attracted more investors who would understand the gravity of what we are striving to do. I guess we have to blame Covid-19 and hope that businesses will get better soon," Xahangir and Shyan wished.
Currently, AmarStock gets more than 250,000 visitors on average per month. Xahangir and Shyan are aiming big for the future of AmarStock.
"We will go global. We want to be a stock trading platform someday. Currently, our platform is free to use but we will monetise it in both web and app versions soon," Xahangir and Shyan concluded.