Gather a Passionate Community

The Problem:
With rapidly falling barriers to entry, competition among online businesses is more intense than ever. How does a new company in an established market gain the trust and customer volume needed to succeed?

The Company:
TradeKing, an online discount brokerage site that launched in late 2005.

The Technology Solution:
As a new company entering a seemingly saturated market for online stock trading, founder and CEO Donato A. Montanaro, Jr. launched TradeKing in 2005 with the tag line: “No Minimums, No Catches, No, Seriously.” Taking a low-price approach ($4.95 per trade and 65 cents per option contract) combined with high-tech online tools, TradeKing provides do-it-yourself investors with the power to efficiently and economically “work the Street” with market snapshots, volatility charts, technical analysis based on pattern recognition technology, and research reports on a 24/7 basis.

However, Montanaro didn’t rely on the “if you build it, they will come” philosophy that snares so many budding Internet entrepreneurs. Instead, he used the TradeKing site as a hosting point for multiple blogs, discussion lists, chatrooms, and trading clubs. As he stated in an August 2007 video interview for the Reuters international news service, “Clients who socially network more, trade more.” Montanaro’s premise must be correct, because the site has been dubbed the fastest growing company in its industry.

The Outcome:
For two years in a row, TradeKing has been rated the #1 discount broker by the editors of the Wall Street Journal’s SmartMoney magazine. The Dow Jones magazine Barron’s listed TradeKing among the top five in its March 2007 online broker survey. And if imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, then newcomers such as provide further proof that TradeKing’s community-based business formula is worthy of duplication.

But such mimicry forces TradeKing to embrace continuous technology development to stay one step ahead of its competition. With new product offerings, such as the May 8th, 2008 introduction of Fixed Return Options heralded by Montanaro ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange, TradeKing appears ready to meet its challengers head on…because resting on one’s laurels is not an option in the age of social networking.

TradeKing is only one company that has tapped into the power of online communities. Tomorrow’s mini-case at will provide you with a look at a very different start-up company that leveraged social networking in a very different way.

–J.D. Mosley-Matchett, Ph.D.
The Data Doc
You have questions? She has answers!


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Dr. J.D. Mosley-Matchett

As advisor to a broad range of clients, including IBM, Texas Instruments, and J.C. Penney, Dr. Mosley-Matchett combines both practical experience and advanced training in modern marketing methodologies. Her background includes multimedia and video production, Web development, and the latest in marketing research methodologies. Internationally recognized as a published author and noted researcher, Dr. Mosley-Matchett has been a member of the graduate faculty at the University of Texas at Arlington and has conducted numerous seminars on a variety of marketing topics for the International Institute for Research, various conferences, and numerous professional organizations. She currently serves as the Managing Director for Words & Images, Ltd., an interactive communications development firm located in the Cayman Islands.

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