Kirk Du Plessis – Founder & Head Trader, Option Alpha

Option Alpha was originally founded by Kirk Du Plessis, a former M&A investment banker for Deutsche Bank in New York, REIT analyst for BB&T Capital Markets in Washington D.C., and consultant for multiple funds, family offices, and financial advisors. The Option Alpha community includes more than 173,000 investors from 48 countries and all 7 continents around the world. Option Alpha has been featured in Barron’s, Smart Money, Forbes, Nasdaq, MarketWatch, as was named to the #215 spot on the Inc. 500 in 2018 and the #723 spot on the Inc. 5000 in 2019, as well as many other industry-specific publications.

Tell us about the early days of Option Alpha.

In hindsight, the Option Alpha story directly follows the now famous quote of Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, “Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.” Today, the public facing brand and community seems to have “come out of nowhere” as one member recently put it. And while there’s no doubt we are a different company now, with hundreds of thousands of members worldwide and named to the Inc. 500 list in 2018 and the Inc. 5000 list in 2019, our seemingly-overnight success just feels like we are actually starting to really hit our stride.

The early days (or years) were much as you would expect from a young startup company. Actually, scratch that. We were and remain nothing like a typical startup. The narrative in the media, and entrepreneurial community at large for that matter, is that many startups need to raise capital fast, push their product to the market quickly, and hit unrealistic revenue targets or they might as well fold up the business and start over. We believe this mentality is foolish to say the least. The early years of Option Alpha, and much of what we continue to do now, is a recurring process of both listening to what our members are asking for and aligning those interests with where we want the industry to move. We want to “skate to where the puck is going, not to where it has been” as legendary hockey player Wayne Gretzky put it. The problem for many new companies is that this process takes time and a full serving of patience.

Having been in business now for over a decade, it would be arrogant and presumptive to assume that we’ve got it all figured out. Quite the opposite is true; we are still learning, refining, and pushing the boundaries of what we believe is possible in the options industry. And it’s precisely due to our moving slower than most of our competitors, many of whom have closed up shop long ago, that we continue to reap the benefits of long overdue compounding effects in growth and impact. Months and years of constant interaction and engagement with our community has allowed us to more deeply understand the needs and problems facing our members. That insight cannot be bought, it must be uncovered with massive amounts of time and effort answering questions and talking with your people. Novel concept I know, but it’s likely why so many startups fail in the first place.

For Option Alpha, this open dialogue and trust established over many years with our community is truly our goldmine because it’s revealed very consistent and clear trends on “where the puck is going.” The expectations and desires of our members have become for us the deep roots or veins of our strategic projects and creative endeavors. With these insights, we’ve been able to develop software and technology that is at the forefront of major industry shifts towards more automation and less friction for options traders. And as our ability to listen and engage with our members constantly improves, our growth and impact will continue to compound on itself. Relentless focus and a decade of perseverance are the competitive advantages that have given us the strength and energy to move mountains and carve a path for our people.