Jarred Kessler, a 15-year Wall Street veteran and former head of US equities at financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald, came up with his big idea when a friend lost his job.
His friend was in a tough spot and thought about putting his house on the market, but didn’t want the associated “public scrutiny” of a “For Sale” sign on his lawn or neighbors talking.
He wanted to keep it discreet, and he wanted to know the value of his home in case he needed to sell. He wanted to test the market without being in the market, Kessler told Business Insider.
Kessler realized that no other services currently on the market offered potential sellers a chance to quietly assess the value of their homes. Then, trouble with regulators at his Wall Street job pushed him to leave Cantor and create one.
Kessler resigned from his position as head of US equities at Cantor Fitzgerald in December 2015 after the firm faced allegations over the sale of unregistered microcap stocks. The brokerage industry’s regulator, Finra, said he had failed to set up a system of properly overseeing the sales in his role there. He settled the case without admission of guilt, and was fined and subject to a principal capacity suspension.
Although he had come up with the idea of EasyKnock while he was still at Cantor, he doesn’t know if he would have otherwise left to pursue this opportunity. Kessler previously served as an executive director in global credit strategy at Credit Suisse, head of credit focused equities at Morgan Stanley and a VP in risk and portfolio management at Goldman Sachs.
“I left the firm because I felt like that the regulatory and technology environment was impacting the promise of business and that it’s harder to make money in finance,” he said.
Kessler and co-founder Ben Black have raised an angel round and are in the process of closing a seed round. EasyKnock will charge a transaction fee in the range of 1.5-2.5%, third party referrals fees and advertising fees. The duo aim to pilot the app in New York, starting in Long Island in June.