No. 4 Startup to Watch: Apiary Funds

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STOCK UP. With his trader development program, Apiary Fund’s founder, Shawn Lucas (center), has proved that those who can do, teach.

STOCK UP. With his trader development program, Apiary Fund’s founder, Shawn Lucas (center), has proved that those who can do, teach.

Investment traders with Apiary Funds are less Wall Street and more Main Street. And some don’t even live within 100 miles of pavement, such as Augustine in Malawi. From stay-at-home moms to international students, this Lindon company has leveled the playing field on currency trading with its trader development program. Aspiring investors practice trading in a simulated account with expert advisers, easy-to-understand statistics and a risk-management system that aids until traders are ready to trade live. The crowd-sourced money management concept has quickly traded risk for reward, and the Apiary Fund (officially founded in 2011) has processed more than 1 billion in trading volume. These dollars make sense.

I owe my business success to a Hungarian cab driver. On an LDS mission in Budapest, Hungary, I was walking into a bank to trade my American dollars for Hungarian forint when a man sitting in the back of a Mercedes-Benz rolled down his window and yelled out “Americans! Come here.”

Terrified, I approached and he explained he could trade my money at a much better rate than the bank could, almost 50 percent more. This was the first time I saw currency trading in action. I became friends with this mysterious man named Csaba. He taught me how to recognize patterns in the economy that affect currency exchange value. I learned that currency values are always fluctuating and there is money to be made off of fluctuations.

When I got back to BYU, I changed my major to economics and decided I wanted to trade money for a living. After college, I went to work for large finance corporations including Charles Schwab and Fidelity. I was successful and it supported my growing family, but my heart wasn’t in it. I didn’t like the stress of being responsible for how someone else’s money did in the market.

I was invited to be an expert witness in a lawsuit between an American and Chinese trading company. When I went to analyze the Chinese trading firm, I was blown away. They were in a huge gymnasium-sized room with hundred of traders shoulder to shoulder. The inexperienced traders didn’t necessarily understand the financial market at large, but they did understand how to spot patterns in the market and react to them. Watching these inexperienced Chinese traders make money planted the seed for The Apiary Fund.

I knew I could teach other people how to trade. I also had the idea to do the training on the web so people everywhere could do it. When I got back from China, I got serious about my business plan. The idea consumed me. I couldn’t sleep for a week.

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“I liked the idea that anyone, anywhere could benefit from my ‘teach-a-man-to-fish’ approach.”

– Shawn Lucas, founder of The Apiary Fund in Lindon

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Another important piece of the puzzle was the actual capital being traded. Because new traders rarely have their own money, I created a fund that new investors would trade with — and then they would share the profits with Apiary. There was no personal risk for new traders. They simply had to pay tuition, learn the program and trade consistently. I liked the idea that anyone, anywhere could benefit from my “teach-a-man-to-fish” approach.

Apiary has come a long way since my first flight to China. With the expert help of Colton Chesnut and Darrell Anderson, Apiary has made significant strides in changing the underpinnings of how people think about investing.

Today’s world is moving “Mach Five” down the technology corridor. Having the superior minds of Colton and our technology team, we’re building systems that manage each of our trader’s exposure to risk, as well as provide statistical analysis and feedback. To date, we’ve processed over a billion dollars in trade executions.

This year, Colton’s team will be launching a trading platform that integrates performance statistics, training and trading — all in one simple location.

Darrell has an amazing talent for communicating, sharing our message and building relationships with our traders. His background as a professional speaker and presenter makes him a crucial part of our team. He is one of the first people potential clients interact with when they want to sign up to become a trader.

Another major key to Apiary’s success is making the right business decisions for our long-term goals — even if it means pain in the short term. We’ve had hard, lean months, but those times have anchored our employees to our purpose and have paid huge dividends.

To share the Apiary message, we planned our “Pedals and Profits” tour from coast to coast. We left in July and are riding our bikes across the country on a three-month tour. We wanted to show that anybody can set a goal and achieve it. If I can ride my bike across the country as an overweight dad of eight, then anybody can.

That’s true with trading as well. The body can adjust to riding a bike with a little determination and persistence. The mind can adjust to trading currencies. We’ve been hosting events and training traders all along the way. It has been difficult — our fully wrapped, decked out bus didn’t even make it to the starting line. But business is about solving problems and making adjustments. Apiary’s journey is just beginning.

Find out who the other Utah Valley Top 10 Startups to Watch are here.

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Kate Lehnhof Nash first joined Bennett Communications as a summer intern in 2009. Now, as an associate editor, she writes for magazines including Utah Valley Magazine, Utah Valley Bride and Prosper. Kate lives in Springville with her husband Steve and enjoys running, reading, sushi and her french bulldog, Chief.

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