Written by Joleen Small
Have you ever wanted to back start-up companies like a true angel investor? Forget about investing in the stock market, we’re talking about taking stakes in early-stage private companies, the kind in which Mark Cuban, Daymond John, and the other “Sharks” invest. Thanks to Maxine Attobrah and Asees Islam and their business, InvestinKin, you can now do just that.
InvestinKin is an alternative investment club that allows the average person to invest in privately-owned companies. The club is a forum where business owners can pitch potential investors. InvestinKin doesn’t take investment money directly, but rather provides a platform for investors and business owners to connect. There’s an educational component, too, with investment “office hours” for new investors to learn the ropes from seasoned professionals.
"When I graduated college, I really wanted to be in a space where I can learn from investors and learn about upcoming businesses,” said Maxine. “You know how you hear stories about Jay-Z investing in Uber or Lebron James investing in [pre-IPO companies], and then getting big profits later? I wanted to be able to experience that, too. I wanted to learn from those kinds of people, so that’s why I created InvestinKin, to have that kind of space.”
Alternative investing has typically been an area that caters to high-net-worth individuals. InvestinKin sought to democratize the industry, but Maxine and Asees needed help getting more people to know about their business. “When I came to SCORE Westchester, I was at the point where my co-founder and I had tried everything,” says Maxine. “We asked a lot of people for advice, but the information we were getting was either conflicting or really vague. So, I started looking up ways to find a free mentoring service.”
Maxine’s SCORE mentor, Anne Kasdin, a digital marketing and branding specialist, helped her with increasing web traffic and creating a concise and captivating message for her website. According to Maxine, “Anne helped me understand how important the first third of your homepage is. While you may have a lot of information throughout your site, that first third is what really grabs the user's attention and makes them want to scroll further.”
Anne also helped Maxine with a competitive analysis and taught her the importance of client assessments. As a result, Maxine started focusing on getting Google and Facebook reviews. “With a five-star rating and good feedback, potential members are like, ‘Oh, I want to see what this is about.’”
The investment club has since moved from in-person meetings to virtual gatherings due to COVID-19, but this has attracted investors and entrepreneurs from around the country including Indiana, Michigan, and California.