Jerrod Bailey is the president and COO of ClickIPO, the world’s first platform to allow everyday people, called “retail investors,” to participate in initial public offerings and secondary offerings. Essentially, when a company goes public, it’s mostly large institutional investors who get access to their offerings at a very low price. While retail investors used to be involved in IPOs, that connection was severed almost two decades ago for various reasons. ClickIPO uses technology to rebuild that connection.
What part of Arizona do you call home?
I’m around the Arcadia area, in a well-developed neighborhood with real trees and grass. In Arizona? Who knew?!
How did you get started as an entrepreneur?
I’ve always been in tech startups, but invariably as an operator. I’ve seen three exits along the way, and I’ve made all the mistakes you can make. For the past seven years, I helped launch Tallwave and all the great things that have come out of it, but after seeing hundreds of innovative companies every year from all around the country, I was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug myself. Fortunately, I had a long career of very deep operational know-how across, marketing, sales, branding, UI/UX, software development, operations… even capital raising. That, and a substantial network of founders, investors, and operators really set me up well to launch ClickIPO into market. I really feel fortunate for the experiences that I’ve had.
I’m a Sun Devil, where I graduated with a marketing degree and also a degree in Spanish. My first job out of college was a tech startup which had a big exit, so I’ve been in the game ever since.
What was your very first entrepreneurial venture?
ClickIPO is my first venture as the entrepreneur, but as an operator, I’ve seen quite a bit of the startup and scale phases. My earliest stage startup was Virtela, which sold to NTT in Japan for $530M. So I started in the tel-co space, but spent most of the last ten years in SaaS and mobile apps. I’ve worked with over a hundred founders/CEOs, and am fortunate to call many of them friends today. They mentor me now, frankly.
What do you do day-to-day?
Because of my tech background, I manage most of the strategic direction and execution of the company as it relates to marketing, branding, product and go-to-market. My co-founders are long-time experts in the financial world, with multiple securities licenses and know-how around public offerings. They handle the financial and broker-dealer side of the business. It takes very deep skillsets in both areas to be successful in a highly regulated industry with deeply entrenched players.
How did you come up with the idea for your current business?
My co-founders, James and Scott, had been aware of the problem of retail distribution for public offerings for years, having worked in the industry before and after the crash of 2000. As we’ve seen the decline and dysfunction of public capital formation for the last 17 years, the problem has only gotten worse. Everyone in the industry is aware of it, and it’s good timing for ClickIPO to come in, with our particular model, to help solve it.
What we are in the process of creating is a platform that will aggregate many thousands of investors together, through automation, in a way that will make it very easy for Underwriters and Issuers to include them in the final allocation. And we will also score all of our users based on their behavior with the IPO shares. For example, if a user buys and holds shares for 30 days or longer, he or she will get an increase in score, and a higher score affords a higher chance of being allocated more shares in the future. So not only are we creating a large, efficient liquidity and distribution pipeline for offerings, but we’re optimizing that pipeline to be good stewards of the allocation. This is all to help the Issuer and Underwriter to do more offerings, and to see those offerings trade up in the market.
What is your favorite part about running a business?
I personally love the people. I’m motivated by highly talented, self-directed people who are experts in their domains. It’s a rush to push problem after problem through a highly effective team, and see how a good team can come together to overcome any obstacle. The fear of a startup goes away after you’ve seen this process unfold successfully a few times.
What was the biggest challenge in executing this idea?
It’s also about the people. As a startup, you have almost unlimited ability to execute, experiment, and pivot—until you run out of money, of course. But good people will pivot to success, while the wrong hire will leave you wallowing in whirlpools indefinitely. It’s critical to get the people right.
How long have you lived or worked in Arizona?
I was born in AZ, but spent half my life in other places, which is important because it gives me perspective that I otherwise wouldn’t have had. I did go to college here, and my family and I have settled down in Arizona as where we want to live forever. I’ve now been back for seven years.
When I first got here seven years ago, I said, “Okay, where’s all the startup action?” But then, it was crickets chirping. Fast forward to today, and Arizona impresses me all the time. We still have a long way to go, but our trajectory is all I care about, and that trajectory is strong. And we’re now at a place where you can absolutely start a billion dollar idea here and be successful doing it.
If you could only describe your city with one word, which word would it be?
What’s your favorite thing about living in Arizona?
It’s a huge city, but a small enough tech community that you can very easily build a name for yourself, attract the resources you need, and leverage the generosity of the community to get ahead.
What’s your least favorite thing about living in Arizona?
We tend to be too insular. There are not a lot of people in Arizona, either operators, founders, or investors, who are connected to large, high-growth startups. Until you’ve been involved with a famously successful tech startup, it’s hard to have the right perspective. As a result, Arizonans tend to think smaller, act small, and risk smaller than we should.
In what area do you think Arizona still has a long way to go?
We need a lot more good operators. I don’t care if you were in a startup and failed. If you can tell me that you’ve helped a company get from zero revenue to $1M of annual revenue, then you automatically have a rare skillset in Arizona. If you’ve gone from $1M to $10M, that’s another rare skillset. And from $10M to $100M. We need marketers, designers, developers, sales people and CEOs who have been through those stages. I know for a fact that the lack of tech venture capital will solve itself if the operator problem is solved.
Part of this also includes the fact that we need more entrepreneurs and fewer mercenaries. It’s easy to find software developers that work for the highest bidder, and often juggle two to four clients at once. That won’t make successful startups. We need our software developers to want to build and own the next Google, not make a cushy lifestyle for themselves that ends up being a drag once they’ve done it for 10+ years. I won’t work with mercenaries. I want owners.
The foodie scene is growing bigger and bigger by the day here in Arizona. What is your favorite place to get breakfast in your city?
I have four kids, and I take one kid every week for a one-on-one at Over Easy on Indian School. The Reese’s pancakes are awesome, according to my 6 year old.
What’s your favorite place to grab lunch?
Just next door to the ClickIPO office is the Village Tavern. Healthy food. Can’t beat it.
What’s your favorite dinner spot?
OMG, the Rokerij.
What’s your favorite place to work in your city aside from your office?
The Henry is my go-to spot near my house. But Galvanize has nailed the co-working environment, in my opinion.
Best place for a meeting over drinks?
Churchill’s Cigars on 44th St.
What is your favorite memory from Arizona?
Hiking the Grand Canyon and spending two weeks in Havasupai Village and all the wonders down there. I did it as a kid, and it’s one of those things you never forget.
What is something about living in Arizona that only a local would know of?
Nobody seems to understand that Rocky Point is only a 4.5 hour drive from Phoenix, but you’ve got beautiful beaches and very low cost. There are also lots of opportunities to volunteer down there, like building a house for a family or dropping into the orphanage to drop off supplies and food for the kids… if you’re lucky, you can break into an unplanned soccer game!
Any tips for new Arizona residents?
Wear sunscreen. Invest in Airbnb and VRBO in Prescott, Payson, or Flagstaff for summer getaways. Our summer is like winter elsewhere. Have an escape hatch.