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Ex-Wise employees scoop €1.2m to take on Freetrade

Martin Sokk and Mikhel Aamer were early employees of Wise and even garnered investment from their former boss, Taavet Hinrikus.

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Martin Sokk and Mikhel Aamer/Lightyear

Some of the biggest fintechs are breeding grounds for new entrepreneurs and Wise (formerly TransferWise) is no different.

Two former employees of the international payments fintech, Martin Sokk and Mikhel Aamer, have stepped out on their own to launch a new stock trading app.

Sokk and Aamer raised €1.2m in pre-seed funding to help get their app off the ground, with the familiar face of Wise’s co-founder Taavet Hinrikus leading the round.

“Having spent my career in financial services, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. I believe retail investing in Europe is still very much ‘the ugly’—we’re talking about sneaky fees, less access and complicated products remaining as the status quo,” said co-founder Martin Sokk.

“We’re building something that will change that by opening up investing up to everyone, whichever global market they want to invest in and however much they want to invest.”

Lightyear, which came out of stealth today, promises commission-free trading, no account fees and no FX fees up to £3,000 per month.

Sokk, co-founder and CEO of Lightyear, first joined Wise back in 2012 and stayed for more than five years in a variety of roles, including head of product, head of people and head of operations.

Aamer, Sokk’s fellow co-founder and CTO, was engineering lead at Wise between 2013 and 2019.

“Investing in Europe is a very long way away from where it needs to be. Professional and experienced investors have good options open to them with clear pricing and best-in-class tools, but ordinary investors don’t have that,” added Sokk. 

Lightyear is going to be Europe’s first truly commission-free investment platform, and using our experience with transforming how the world approaches currency conversion, our goal is to completely change the name of the game when it comes to investing.”

Alongside Hinrikus, other prominent angel investors also participated in the round, including CTO Ott Kaukver, former president of Robinhood UK Wander Rutgers, Sten Tamkivi co-founder of Teleport and Jaan Tallinn, co-founder of Skype.

Lightyear’s app still has some tweaks to work through, but the waitlist has opened from today with plans to roll out the app at some point in the third quarter of this year. 

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