IP Ventures Helps a Dublin Financial Startup

Posted by Patrick Brazel
CEO of Zignals

(Cross posted from The
Official Microsoft Blog

Patrick Brazel

Patrick Brazel

In 2008, the financial markets changed fundamentally and
completely. The causes will be debated and they of course predate the
collapse. But there is no argument that the summer of 2008 is when the
market certainties that had prevailed since 1945 evaporated.

was at this time that my business partner and I had been working on a
plan to address what we saw as a huge gap in the financial market. We
saw a need to empower individual investors with the online capabilities
that were available only to professional or major institutions. At the
same time, we wanted to create opportunities for a new class of
researchers to earn from its expertise by being paid for the strategies
it creates and publishes.

We believed strongly that the model
had to change — something different was needed. We had a compelling idea
and a strong plan, but were searching for the technology to lift it off
the ground.

Around that time, while attending an event hosted
by Enterprise Ireland ­ the economic development arm of the Irish
government, I was introduced to Microsoft’s IP Ventures program. We learned that IP Ventures
identifies innovative technology developed at Microsoft, and provides it
to interested entrepreneurs like us to start new businesses. We brought
the idea and our financial services experience to the table, and after
approving our plans, IP Ventures gave us access to IP assets, as well as
the support and business guidance we needed to help us develop our idea
into something concrete.

Today, as the IP Ventures program
celebrates its five-year anniversary, Zignals — a Dublin-based
Web 2.0 and Silverlight finance specialist — is celebrating a
significant milestone in our own company history: the
commercial launch of our global online service
.  The site includes
an entire suite of financial tools that just about anyone can use. It
also has our marketplace for trading strategies, where a
financially-savvy online network is actively sharing its independently
rated successful investment strategies. Think of it as an “eBay of
finance,” where researchers and strategies are tracked, and all of the
trades are transparent and auditable.

providing us with then yet-to-be-launched Microsoft Solver Foundation
technology, Microsoft provided us with the resources to develop
personalized communication services and optimize trading. We’ve been
able to license other rules-engine and solver-type technologies, which
provide the capabilities we need when monitoring and reacting to
markets. Silverlight addresses the needs of Web-based traders better
than any other technology. Not only does it look great, but the
practical advantages of a zero-footprint, no-install implementation are
immense. Zignals was a very early adopter and has benefited enormously
from the blistering pace of the Silverlight evolution. From a technical
point of view, the resources we received through IP Ventures helped us
get up and running extremely quickly, much more so had we been forced to
develop the technology on our own.

Today, there are more than
20,000 Zignals members who come from all over the globe but share an
interest in markets and how to prosper in them. They experience the Web
in a unique way with tools and data that once were the exclusive
preserve of Wall Street. They collaborate in a competitive marketplace
of ideas and strategies, which will prosper because it’s so different.

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