This post is part of the “Founder Series” – where we feature select Designli clients with a goal of highlighting their products, their inspiration, and what has motivated them to tackle the world of building a digital startup.
While he was working at a trade desk at JPMorgan, Adam Crisafulli saw a clear need for a tech-enabled service delivering market commentary to investors. He leveraged his experience and expertise to create Vital Knowledge, a subscription service for his content.
Tell me a bit about Vital Knowledge. Can you share your elevator pitch with us?
Vital Knowledge is a subscription service that offers expert market commentary and analysis. I curate critical news and information and provide analysis to help investors navigate the noisy media landscape and move beyond the headlines.
My primary target audience is institutional investors like hedge funds and mutual funds — those on the buy side. But I also have subscribers on the sell side — banks.
What’s your origin story? How did your company come to be?
I started on Wall Street as an intern 20 years ago before moving to Bear Stearns and staying on when that company was absorbed into JPMorgan.
My job over the years has been to absorb information and then give my opinion on how each piece of information will affect the market.
Essentially I’m sharing my analysis and predictions and how I think the market will evolve going forward. It’s information curation plus my analysis of what’s important, what’s not important, and what I see as misinterpretations.
I developed a following, and when the industry began to evolve (regulatory changes and drops in commissions), I realized that I could better monetize the service I was providing by going out on my own.
JPMorgan was supportive of my decision and the separation was very amicable.
How has your initial idea changed since you first started your business?
My initial focus has been building a robust website and distribution platform and sustaining a level of content quality equal to or better than what I was producing at my prior employer.
With both those goals accomplished, I’m now exploring expanding content and distribution/dissemination options.
What’s the most rewarding thing about running a company?
It’s very rewarding to now have an instantaneous feedback mechanism (in the form of subscribers) for the value of my content whereas before the evaluation criteria were much more amorphous.
Now I hear directly from my subscribers and I can see that what I’m doing is making an impact.
Who inspires you?
There wasn’t any one person or experience that inspired me, but rather an accumulation of several different ones over time.
One contributor was a new gym I began attending with a very entrepreneurial culture and community — this certainly helped motivate me to start Vital Knowledge.
Talking with them, I realized that it would be more rewarding to me to be on my own, to be able to have that direct customer feedback and more flexibility.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Getting caught up in overly-specific planning can be a hindrance. It’s counterintuitive, but sometimes less is better.
Although it would be nice to have a very specific business plan with all the details laid out, that isn’t realistic with a new venture. And you don’t need to have it all figured out.
Planning and analysis are important, but you have to take a leap of faith to a degree because you’re entering the unknown.
Start small and ramp up from there. You don’t know all the answers starting out.
What has been your biggest challenge when starting a business and what insights are you gaining from it?
I didn’t realize how much administrative work would be involved. There’s a lot that’s required to run a business besides the service being provided.
I had to create systems and processes, and now I’ve automated a lot of it. I’m continuing to figure out ways to streamline operations.
What advice would you offer to new startup founders or those who are in the early stages of starting a company?
Focus on the product that you have to sell.
Start with the market need and what you can offer to fill that need.
Secondly, think about logistics — how are you delivering your product to your customers?
Make sure that you have confidence in your delivery mechanisms.
Have your tech in place and be sure it’s reliable.
Delivering on time is essential for most businesses.
Follow Adam on his journey by visiting Vital Knowledge on the web: Click Here.
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