Baiju Bhatt wants to equalize the world of investing by making trading stocks as easy as sending an email -- and just as free. Bhatt, 31, is the cofounder and CEO of Robinhood, an investment app geared toward millennials that has nearly 1 million customers. Robinhood has received $66 million in funding from celebrity investors like Jared Leto, Snoop and Nas, as well as VCs like NEA and Index since it was founded in 2013. And it recently launched Robinhood Instant, a feature that will front users $1,000 to trade while waiting for deposits to settle.
What do you actually do all day in your job?
My day starts early, I'm in the office around 7 a.m. This gives me two uninterrupted hours to work on personal projects. Then I spend most of the day working closely with our engineering, design, data and marketing teams to make sure we’re making the most unbelievably awesome stuff possible. And of course there’s recruiting -- meeting candidates and helping new Robinhoodies get started!
How many hours do you sleep?
I sleep about six and a half hours per night. Maintaining a routine with my sleeping habits, even on weekends, has been a constant even when other aspects of life are hectic.
What do you eat for breakfast?
I have a cup of coffee for breakfast every day, but I don't have a go-to food. Sometimes it's a cup of yogurt, sometimes oatmeal, most of the time nothing.
If you could pitch to one person, who would it be?
What’s on your home screen?
How often do you exercise?
Most days. I just finished a half marathon, and I’m training for another one in the spring, but my goal is to run a full one before the end of 2016. I prefer to get out in the middle of the day -- at lunch or in between meetings. I come back with a clear mind and a boost of creative energy.
What app can’t you live without?
Other than Robinhood?! ;) Slack & Spotify are two of my favorites.
What's your favorite city?
Tokyo & Kyoto are two of my favorites. I like how Japanese cities live in harmony with their natural surroundings, with gardens and forests mixed into urban areas. The public transit is also fantastic and there are cat cafes everywhere.
What’s the most important company we’ve never heard of?
I’m hard pressed to name one specific company, but I am very excited about the coming privatization of the space industry. When it’s gets much cheaper to get things into orbit (e.g. with reusable rockets) the next generation of creators will focus there rather than things like Uber for cats (though that still needs to happen).
Are there any social platforms you refuse to participate in?
Meh. Social media is not a particularly interesting part of my life, and I don’t like getting notifications (so I have them all turned off). The only ones I use are Facebook Messenger, Slack & occasionally Twitter.
What are you reading right now?
Lots of things: Predictably Irrational, Godel, Escher, Bach, Sandman. I recently finished a few books about Mars, including The Case for Mars, Red Mars & The Martian. Next on my list is Capital in the 21st Century.
Do you think there’s a tech bubble?
Maybe, maybe not. Great companies, with clever ideas and relentless people will be fine either way. History tells a similar story – post-2000 gave rise to awesome companies like Facebook and Google.
Best piece of advice you've been given?
A few years ago I sat down with David Kelley (founder of IDEO, professor at Stanford) and asked him how he had seen companies create trust. His answer was succinct: clearly articulate what you aim to do, and do that thing. This was something I thought about often when we were starting Robinhood.
What keeps you up at night?
Not moving fast enough and not moving recklessly fast. We’re a small team that’s resource constrained (manpower or time or something else), so it’s critical we pick the right things to focus on at the right time. Sometime that comes at the expense of stampeding over good ideas, and that’s difficult to notice as it’s happening.
If you could tell your 18-year-old self one thing, what would it be?
Trust your instinct & believe in yourself.