Fellow Spotlight: Jake L’Ecuyer, Benzinga

vm0MFK9t81NZXXPw3579jqMARUZLQUO891xrYlhW9MQName: Jake L’Ecuyer

Hometown: Troy, Michigan

University: Michigan State University ‘11

City: DetroitBenzingaLogo1

Senior Analyst, Benzinga

What initially attracted you to Venture for America?

It was a “safer” way to get involved with a startup. Every startup I had worked with always offered me about 10 bucks an hour, and thats not a living. VFA guaranteed a wage and benefits while offering training, but allowed me to work at a startup like I wanted. Giving me a strong network of peers and a brand add to my resume was pretty important too, as the startup I joined may not succeed (as many do not). So it was almost like a 2 year insurance policy for working at a startup.

 What is the best part of being a VFA Fellow?

Having the startup job, but a national brand backing me. It’s essentially the best of both worlds. The network is awesome too.

What does Benzinga do? 

Our goal is to level the playing field between the institutional and retail (every day) investor. We do this with the 3 pillars of our company:

1. Benzinga- Our front facing media brand, where we have full length articles about the markets.

2. BenzingaPro- Our real-time news feed that covers financial markets and provides data on their movements and fundamentals.

3. Marketfy- A marketplace for financial products ranging from books, to training courses, to traders that you can subscribe to and learn to trade their strategies from. The key to marketfy is tracking software that validates every trade made by our mavens (the expert traders), which proves their entries and exits in the market are actually possible, and gives more transparency to their methods for the users.

What do you do on a typical day at work?

I work primarily on the Benzinga news desk as a market analyst. So I arrive at 7am and start analyzing market news, write a few stories for Benzinga.com, help our upper level clients understand why certain stocks, commodities, and futures are moving, and cover things like press conferences and conference calls. I also go on Tide Traders, a stock market internet radio show every day at 11:30am to give a news update. Finally, I go on Stocks and Jocks, a Chicago AM radio show to talk stocks and sports every Tuesday morning with CNBC’s Jon Najarian and ‘The Chief’.  Starting in the near future, we will also have a bi-weekly spot on Chinese national TV to cover the US stock market, which I will appear on once a week. That covers my duties on the desk, but I also run our internship recruitment and full time recruitment, and act as a contributing editor for Benzinga.com.

What’s your favorite thing about Detroit? 

Probably the huge opportunity here. Detroit was at one time such a powerhouse, but is a husk of what it used to be. What many see as a dangerous and failed city, I see as a fantastic opportunity. There is no one saying “you can’t do that” here, if you’re doing something productive or providing value, you get encouragement and support. It’s a city of doers, and I love that. Creative ideas quickly gain support in Detroit as our city scrambles for a solution to its economic woes.

What do you hope to accomplish in your time with VFA?

I want to feel like I have enough knowledge to build a company. So I want the relationships needed, some solid experience, and an understanding of how to build up a customer base and business model. Hopefully by the time the Fellowship is over I will feel comfortable enough to launch something on my own, as my dream is to be completely self sufficient and not have a need for a job or be tied to one location.


Fellow Spotlight: Melanie Friedrichs, Andera

b9yxr5JwlFbRkLhN-4HCwOcDsPlW_7l57TJplXFUCzsName: Melanie Friedrichs

Hometown: Bethesda, MD


University: Brown University ’12

City: Providence, RI

Anaylst, Andera

What initially attracted you to Venture for America?

I was doing research on “social enterprise ecosystem builders,” organizations that help small companies with social missions succeed, for the social enterprise non-profit that I interned for the summer before my senior year. VFA didn’t know it yet, but they fit right in. Combine an interest in social enterprise with an interest in cities, and a slightly anti-establishment approach to business, and you’ve got a match made in heaven.

What is the best part of being a VFA Fellow?

The network, hands down. All the Providence Fellows live together, and my roommates are great guys. Love hearing about the startups other Fellows are working for and the fun things they’re doing in their cities. Plus VFA has helped us plug into the local entrepreneurship scene, which in a city Providence’s size, is small enough to be a community.

What does Andera do?

We make account opening and lending solutions for banks and credit unions. Translation: if you decided to apply for a checking account online at all but the 5 largest US banks, there is a roughly 25% chance that you would be using our system.

What do you do on a typical day at work?

I’m the webinar-whitepaper-blogger-tweeter-mass-emailer-salesforce-report-and-dashboard-builder girl. Essentially I’m the public voice of Andera (although I often speak under pseudonyms) and I generate about 50 financial institution leads a month. When I was brought on, my mission was to establish Andera as a thought leader in the financial technology space, easier said than done, especially when you’re a 22 year old with no experience in finance or technology.

What’s your favorite thing about Providence?

The history. (Founded in the 1636 by Roger Williams, go religious exile!) The character. (Was very poor in the 1970s, we simply couldn’t afford the fashionable concrete architecture!) The size. (Big enough to host a party, but small enough to know the guests!)

What do you hope to accomplish in your time with VFA?

I want to help Providence grow through entrepeneurship, even if my only contribution is as a warm body at networking events. (Every interaction counts!) Mainly I want to learn; about startups, about financial technology (it’s a fascinating space), and about fragile urban entrepreneurship ecosystems.