Q&A: Journey from Blackstone to starting my own business

eshoy's picture
Rank: Monkey | 49

About

I broke into the Blackstone restructuring group, I stayed for 10 months then joined a start-up hedge fund. I'm now working on my own startup (atom.finance) focused on building a modern investment research platform that democratizes access to institutional quality information and tools.

AMA

Ask me about my journey, my reasons behind starting my own company or anything related.

WSO Podcast

Member @eshoy shares his break from the traditional path not once, but twice already in his young career. We cover how he broke into the Blackstone restructuring group (one of the most prestigious groups on the street) coming out of Wharton, why he left only after 10 months to join a start-up hedge fund and what comes next with his own startup, atom.finance

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Comments (27)

Funniest
Jul 25, 2019

So you're the guy that advertises on my instagram every day

    • 22
Jul 25, 2019

Glad to hear we are targeting the right folks! ;)

Jul 25, 2019

If i have the beta right now, Will i get free access once the full version is out?

Jul 25, 2019

I literally see the ads for atom on my instagram every day as well wow

  • topboy
  •  Jul 25, 2019

I signed up for Atom a looooong time ago so I could steal a cool username, but what do you guys offer that's different or better than other methods of research? Besides the gorgeous UI.

Also, what was your background prior to BX? School, major, first job (was it BX?), etc.

Would love to hear some insight on breaking into a position like BX and what your thought process was when you decided to make the move to HF, later on as well when you exited the HF.

Edit: I haven't listened to the podcast and probably won't get to it this weekend, so apologies if this is answered in there

    • 1
Jul 25, 2019

Re: Atom, we offer data / resources (detailed consensus, transcripts, valuation, peer analysis, high quality news, sector tracking) and tools (try https://atom.finance/xray for example) to an audience that hasn't had access to this before. We believe that the current landscape (either low quality free tools or platforms which cost thousands per year) is deeply unfair. Hope you enjoy using Atom.

I was in the Huntsman Program at Penn (dual degree between CAS and Wharton). In Wharton, I concentrated in Finance and Accounting. I did a few internships at small funds prior to BX, and interned there junior summer before returning full time.

My view (as discussed in the podcast) is that people often don't properly assess career risk/reward, and usually underestimate the risk of joining a large firm while overestimating the risk of joining a start-up (whether that be a hedge fund or tech, esp when you consider the upside). I have always felt that the time to take a career risk is when you are young and have a lot of flexibility, and if you are resourceful the downside node is never as bad as you might imagine.

Hope that's helpful.

Jul 27, 2019

You notice this as you get older.

Household names are gone from my college time. Lehman bear Deutsche bank (basically).

Gs trading may have been the most prestigious job on the street a decade ago.

2 sigma was a start up. Same with drw. Most quant funds for that matter.

Hedge funds were cool in the aughts. Now PE dominates. Blackstone was just getting out of being a real estate focused firm. Facebook didn't exists. Apple was imacs then. No iPod no iPhone. Amazon was broke.

Citadel was a fixed income fund.

Array
Most Helpful
Jul 27, 2019

"My view (as discussed in the podcast) is that people often don't properly assess career risk/reward, and usually underestimate the risk of joining a large firm while overestimating the risk of joining a start-up (whether that be a hedge fund or tech, esp when you consider the upside). I have always felt that the time to take a career risk is when you are young and have a lot of flexibility, and if you are resourceful the downside node is never as bad as you might imagine."

Love this comment and agree 100%. When you're young, you really have nothing at risk (sure time but you got lots of that). Breaking out on your own or changing jobs / careers when it only effects you vs. with spouse and kids is much easier. I did it with a spouse. And then again with a newborn, but the second time I had learned much from the first AND was very accomplished / confident in what I was doing so didn't feel like risk. Would have been difficult to do with two teenagers and college expenses coming quickly.

The resourceful part is key. If you fail, you fail. But you learn a lot along the way. If you still got the goods, just keep on moving and you win the next time. Second time around I figured if I fail, I can always go back to X and make a good living. (First time I had no idea what I was doing but learned a lifetime of lessons.)

    • 2
Jul 25, 2019

Where can we get a beta invite for Atom?

Jul 25, 2019

Sorry the URL should now have an invite code - you can use "betavip"

Jul 25, 2019

Thanks for the AMA! At what point in the progress of your startup did you decide to leave your full-time job to start Atom? I'm in a similar place right now where I'm contemplating the jump to working on a startup full-time, but am curious as to when you decided it was the appropriate time to jump.

Jul 26, 2019

I left in March 2018, which was before I started working on Atom in Sept/Oct. I felt that I needed some time off to think about what I wanted to do / recharge.

Jul 25, 2019

I literally see the ads for atom on my instagram every day as well wow.

Don't you think it's better to get some brand name experience right out of school first so that if you do decide to jump to start up at like 25 and then it fails then at least you can go back to a nice corporate finance gig instead of a crappy dead end sales job?

Im at a consulting startup right now doing sales Ive been here for a year and I regret not taking the offer I had to go directly into a structured program with a big bank right out of undergrad.

Jul 26, 2019

Yes I agree that can be helpful. One of the things we discuss in the podcast is the utility of having a good brand name on your resume as a career hedge, so that you can be more aggressive with your career decisions.

    • 1
Jul 25, 2019

Hi! Just registered on Atom and very keen on it, but it's not available on the UK App Store for me to download. When will practical mobile access be available outside the US?

Thanks!

Jul 26, 2019

Mobile apps are coming soon, but the web app is fully mobile optimized!

Jul 26, 2019

Thoughts on monetization after reaching a critical mass of users? Subscription, branching out to electronic brokerage, offering access to private market opportunities and charging a spread?

Jul 26, 2019

For now, we are focused on building an awesome product that our users love and that adds significant value to them. We may charge for certain premium features over time.

Jul 26, 2019

I listened to the podcast, thanks for the advice and telling your story, and thanks to Patrick for being a great host ;)

I had the impression that, while Atom being a software company, it's dominated by finance guys. From my experience in tech, I know that the passion you bring for your product and the clients can make a huge difference. However, in the end, you're still a tech company. It's product dominated and engineers have the final say. What makes the product great is eventually determined by recruiting talented developers, engineers, support engineers, product managers, etc.. Basically the entire engineering pipeline. If you are only using contract engineers, don't you feel like you are losing control over your product? Who is the "owner" of the codebase? I remember you mentioned your friend who worked at Microsoft. What's his role in the product process?

    • 1
Jul 26, 2019

For clarification, I am the only person at Atom with a finance background. We used contract engineers to build the early prototype of the platform before we raised our seed round. We have been rapidly scaling our in house engineering team, and are focused on hiring exceptional engineering and product talent. We are first and foremost a software company - we simply happen to be in the finance space.

I think our focus on solid engineering and product development practices is already evident in the current iteration of the product.

    • 1
Jul 27, 2019

I agree!

Jul 26, 2019
  1. Who do you see as your main competitors (free and paid) and how do you differentiate?
  2. Who is your ideal core customer base / persona and why?
  3. What do you see as your addressable market and size?
Jul 26, 2019

What are you thoughts on Blackstone restructuring? I thought PJT was the spin-off of Blackstone's Rx group?

Jul 26, 2019

BX R&R doesn't exist anymore - it was spun off to PJT as you mentioned.

    • 1
Jul 28, 2019
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Jul 29, 2019