Brothers Damien and Derek Hoffman work well together. In fact, they are quickly working their way into the inner circle of financial gurus—the people that other people actually listen to, and more importantly, the people that other people should be listening to. As a result, their site, Wall St. Cheat Sheet , is one of the most popular new financial media companies on the web.
Wall St. Cheat Sheet was launched only days after the S&P 500 crashed. As they explain, after the crash both believed it was necessary, “Like a samurai, our mission is to cut through the bull and bear shit with extraordinary insights, a fresh voice, and razor-sharp wit. We provide the highest quality education and information for active investors and financial professionals.”
Wall St. Cheat Street aims to:
• Profile the brightest minds, those better at who they are than what they do
• Cover important issues which require deeper analysis and better evidence than that in the public focus
• Provide investing and trading education from successful pros who practice what they preach.
The Hoffman brothers have no problem reaching those goals, probably because they are both extremely hard working. Derek joined his brother Damien after accumulating a decade of investing experience and outperforming the S&P 500 for the past five years. Prior to that, he handled media investment and tactical strategy planning for Procter & Gamble and Gillette’s national asset portfolio. He worked in private wealth management for Morgan Stanley and graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Economics. Damien started a successful company during the dotcom boom, worked at an investment bank, and clerked at the Florida Supreme Court. He graduated from Duke University with a degree in Public Policy.
When asked what gave them the idea to start this business, Derek thought back to the end of 2007, “the Dow Jones Industrial Average was over 14,000 and we were telling our network of clients and friends to get out of the stock market because banks were riding high on very suspicious loans.
As the market crashed, we watched the mainstream media tell everyone to sit tight. In some horrible situations, commentators were telling people to buy banks like Wachovia and Washington Mutual because they were “bargains.” Clearly, these people had no idea what they were talking about. After witnessing this irresponsible behavior by the media, we knew there was a demand and need for objectivity in financial media.”
After that the Hoffman brothers knew what they had to do. Here is what Derek had to say about starting Wall St. Cheat Street.
YOUNG MONEY: Where did you get the funding for your business?
DEREK HOFFMAN: We funded our business purely with sweat equity and the ability to fund our personal cost of living during the start-up phase. We built everything in-house. From soup-to-nuts, we invested in ourselves, the foundation of Wall St. Cheat Sheet.
YM: What was the hardest thing you encountered while starting your business?
DH: Launching our business during a recession—a time when people are tightening their wallets. However, we were pleasantly surprised by the response of growing readership at our site and the Premium Newsletter we publish monthly. We serve a growing demand for objective analysis and financial education which is valuable to people’s hard-earned savings. So, they have been willing to spend a small amount of money to protect their capital—even during a recession.
YM: What surprised you the most?
DH: The willingness of top pundits at various places all over the world—from Jim Rogers in Singapore to Dylan Ratigan in New York—to sit down with us and share their insights and personal stories.
YM: Is this your first business?
DH: Not quite. I helped launch a restaurant in college and have co-founded a record label. Damien started a successful dotcom during the tech boom and also co-founded the record label with me.
YM: How many employees do you have?
DH: Between six and eight right now, with as many as ten depending on the editorial contributions, web development, and research.
YM: How do you get your name out there and get customers? What has been your most effective marketing technique or tactic?
DH: Word-of-mouth. We provide premium content to other best-in-class sites on the web. We now contribute to CNNMoney, The Huffington Post, Minyanville, The Business Insider, BBC World News, and CBS Radio, just to name a few of the major media outlets that spread the awareness of the Wall St. Cheat Sheet.
YM: If you could offer one piece of concrete advice to other people, what would it be?
DH: First, pursue what you are passionate about and the money will follow. Wake up everyday doing what you want to do. Second, work hard because eventually hard work pays off.
YM: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?
DH: Please stop by our site and Young Money readers will enjoy a complimentary issue of our Premium newsletter: http://wallstcheatsheet.com/newsletter