2021 Most Disruptive MBA Startups: Xantos Labs, University of Texas (McCombs)

Xantos Labs

University of Texas, McCombs School of Business

Industry: Financial Services

Founding Student Name(s):

Chuk Orakwue (Co-Founder), Lou Ortiz (joined while at McCombs)
(both Texas McCombs MBA Class of 2021)

Brief Description of Solution: We provide automated investing advice through a mobile-first advisory platform. Clients can deposit their funds with us and we get them invested. Our process involves rigorous fundamental research with quantitative portfolio construction applied on top. Additionally, we believe that client education is key – which is why we educate along the way!

Funding Dollars: We are entertaining the idea of fundraising in the near-future.

What led you to launch this venture? Xantos Labs was born out of frustration for the lack of premium investment advice for the next generation of investors who didn’t have premium sized checking accounts. While building our investment platform, we noticed two things: that top level investing advice wasn’t available to folks like us, and that there were, in fact, novel approaches to managing a portfolio rather than just sticking our money in over-diversified ETFs that simply follow the overall benchmark.

What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with venture? Several to list. In spite of the economic downturn and volatility due to the pandemic, we delivered a record +56.2% after-fees to clients in 2020 and through Q2-21 we have maintained over 20% annualized returns since inception. It was a rough year all around and in our first real-world tests of how we would do in recession, we navigated it very well.

Recently, we launched our mobile app — this was a watershed moment for us. If you’ve ever done software development – you know how tricky it can be to get things running smoothly. Achieving this milestone stripped away much of the friction for our clients, making it easier to onboard, fund and get invested. Further than that, we are a stone’s throw away from rolling out support for clients in over 150 countries as well as more products.

How has your MBA program helped you further this startup venture? We have been the beneficiaries of numerous advisors and mentors as a result of our time in the program at McCombs. This includes professors such as Keith Brown, who provided excellent advice about how to position ourselves given the macro environment. Advisors like Britt Harris helped us to hone our message and key value proposition, while connecting us with some of the brightest minds in the investing world. Alumni like Brian Bares and Travis Cocke have provided fantastic insights about their investing process and how we can improve our own.

What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you? I have always found Robert Smith to be remarkably inspiring. Rising to the absolute pinnacle of his field is impressive, but the ways in which he has given back to his community and built a platform at Vista Equity is what is more important and what will be more memorable. I also admire the fact that he built Vista in the aftermath of the dot com bubble. Obviously, some might not have the will or determination to build in the aftermath of such a cataclysmic event, but Mr. Smith demonstrated incredible resolve – a lesson that we carry with us today.

Which MBA class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? Entrepreneurial Growth by Professor Doggett. As part of the course, students get to pick an actual business and help them come up with growth strategies. Our group chose this startup and put up some great ideas. Doggett grilled us hard during the final session. Key lessons: personal relationships are worth a premium and customers are loyal to themselves. In other words, deliver value that is much better than the status quo or face the wrath of unhappy clients leaving your product or service. This is what keeps us up at night. We don’t just want to build a good advisory platform – we want to be the best and make it personable!

What professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why? Professor Doggett was particularly helpful. His approach to teaching, attention to detail, and commitment makes every lecture a first-class learning experience. He pushes students to fully consider their arguments – and doesn’t give you an inch if he thinks you’re mailing it in! His entrepreneurial courses gave us the playbook to grow our business in the real world – as we were still very much focused on Xantos Labs while we were in school.

What is your long-term goal with your startup? We have global ambitions and we are well on our way to executing on being the advisor of choice for everyday folks around the world.

DON’T MISS: THE MOST DISRUPTIVE MBA STARTUPS OF 2021

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