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Startup Report

Trigger Is Like The IFTTT Of Investing

Trigger gives you hedge-fund level investment tools—on your phone.

Trigger Is Like The IFTTT Of Investing
[Photo: Flickr user M.o.B 68]

In the last few years a bunch of apps and digital services have cropped up to help get regular people investing in the stock market. Mobile apps like Robinhood and Acorns, for example, help dismantle a price barrier that often keeps people from investing. Rather than requiring them to set aside thousands of dollars to open a brokerage account, these apps let people invest small amounts of money in stocks for free or for a small fee. However, once that threshold is crossed, it can still be difficult for non-expert investors to figure out what they should be buying or selling—or when, or why. Also, many people don't have time to monitor the stock market frequently.

A new app launching today called Trigger will link to your brokerage account and help you purchase or sell stock based on various changes in the market. For instance, users can set a trigger to buy stock when it reaches a one-year low; or a user could set a trigger to sell a stock when it reaches a certain percent return. Think of the app as If-This-Then-That for stock.

The aim of Trigger is to bring hedge-fund level investing tools to the masses. Cofounder Rachel Mayer is a former trader who decided to take a sabbatical to enroll as a graduate student at Cornell Tech. Once outside of the office, she realized she didn't have access to the Bloomberg terminals or any of the feeds that had indicated to her, while she was working, what to buy or sell. All she had was a Schwab account. "I needed the signals," she says, to keep making smart personal investing decisions.

There are four core areas that users can set up triggers around: when a stock reaches an all-year high or low; when an economic event happens (like the Fed rate change); when corporate fundamentals change (we usually see this around the time quarterly earnings are announced); and when an item already in your portfolio reaches a certain return or loss. Plus there's a discovery section of the app, where users can view trending triggers and other rules people are using.

But that is just the beginning, says Mayer. Eventually she'd like to incorporate artificial intelligence into trades. In the case of a change to the Fed rate, users could potentially set up really specific triggers around language in the announcement, and set triggers around sentiment detected in the announcement. "Did they drop 'patient' from paragraph three? Or is it a dovish or hawkish term from that statement?" she posits. "We could construct triggers on that in the future."

In its first incarnation, the Trigger app will act as an alert system. Right now, if you were to tether Trigger to an account and set up triggers, the app would only send you a notification signaling that your trigger has fired. It will not yet make the trade on your behalf. However, three weeks from now, the app will update to incorporate a way to place orders through a trigger alert. Later this year, Mayer plans to make buying and selling even more automatic for users who want trades to happen automatically when their Trigger triggers fire.

Unfortunately, app discovery being dismal for everyone these days, it's really hard for a new app to reach a large audience. So, rather than compete with big banks for attention, Trigger wants to make them its customers.

Later this year, Trigger will open up an API, so brokerages can incorporate Trigger's technology into their own app interfaces. "What we would like to do is partner with these brokerages, because they at the end of the day have a combined 50 million brokerage accounts," says Mayer. This strategy not only puts Trigger's technology in front of lots of customers, it also stands to make them some money through licensing fees. It also means that Trigger won't have to rely solely on people stumbling upon its app in an app store.

The Trigger app is available on iOS for free, starting today.

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