Ants is a community platform for stock investors to share insights on businesses and trade tokens of users based on their insights.


I designed Ants during my military service in South Korea, after seeing an increase of every day investors who lacked a community to get knowledge from. I wanted to build a community platform in which every day investors, who are also industry professionals, can share their knowledge and insights on fields and businesses they are familiar with.
From researching users to executing a prototype, I was able to experience a full product development cycle. In addition, by pitching the idea at a startup competition, I was able to learn not only how to build a product but also how to best pitch my idea with a feasible business model.

Product Management, User Experience Research/Design, Wireframing, Business Strategy
Brian Shin
November 2020 - July 2021
- Won Creativity Award among 421 teams at Army Startup Competition 2021
- Selected as one of top 50 of 1000+ teams at National Defense Startup Challenge 2021
- Selected as a finalist team at 2021 K-Startup Challenge Program
Current Status:


With constantly increasing interests in personal finance, there has been a huge rise in stock trades and interests in traded companies for the past couple of years. Only in South Korea, we saw customers' deposit in brokerage accounts double its amount in a year (2020-2021). However, with the increased interests in stock investment, the disparity of information between those who have access to business trends and companies and those who do not has been growing as well.

While I was serving my national duty in the Republic of Korea Army, I met my friend Brian, who also saw limitations of investing information provided to common investors like us. Although there has been plenty of content about analyzing equities and reading financial analyses, we realized most investors cannot get access to insights from the insiders and professionals of traded companies.

Brian and I tried to overcome the challenge by sharing our knowledge from our different professional backgrounds. We both had expertise on different industries and market trends, resulting in a more holistic understanding of equities. This sharing of knowledge led to our realization that if professionals from diverse industries can share their industry-specific insights with each other, it can help stock investors make more informed investment decisions.

Research & Customer Discovery

In order to understand real pain points of stock investors, we conducted a few interviews asking their investment processes, where they gain their investing information, what makes them trust the sources of information, and thoughts of being in an social group for sharing stocks and investing information.

The interview results had the following points in common:


With the interview results of individuals who have interests in stock investing, we were able to identify potential users. To understand our potential users better, I created a specific user persona that encompasses common traits of potential customers who want to solve pain points of limited investing information.

It was easy to put myself into the potential user's shoes since I am also a young student / professional who is interested in researching companies and stocks. With our understanding of our identified persona and insights from the previously conducted interviews, we were able to identify main pain points we could look into solving.

• Existing information and insights are scattered among multiple platforms, making it difficult for users to make full use of them
• There are not a lot of opportunities for everyday investors to have a chat with industry professionals and company executives
• Most pieces of accessible investing information focus more on basic quantitative data and public news
• There is no easy way to verify credibility of information online

With these pain points in mind, we initially designed a community-based platform in which users, who are also professionals of their own industries and sectors, can share their portfolios of companies of interest, with comments on their decisions and information.

We wanted users to browse through interesting investors working in other professions and sectors, and find out their companies of interest and necessary information.

Potential Feature Set


With the features in mind, I sketched out fundamental pages of our platform on a notebook as a low-fi wireframe design.

At this point, we named the platform Ants, as ants represent amateur stock investors who work together to grow a community with liked-minded goals. Also, "ants" refer to average stock investors, as opposed to institution investors and experts, who may have small trading amount but gather up their insights together to achieve success in personal finance.

Feature Prioritization

We wanted to collect feedback on general directions of features and design. From comments we received, one point stood out the most.

"I'd be interested in seeing what another user is investing in only if I will gain something new from their comments on why they're investing in the particular company."

Users were not so much interested in seeing a stock portfolio of a Microsoft engineer. Users wanted to see what a Microsoft cloud engineer can say about a particular cloud computing company that they're interested in.

We decided to work on prioritizing features after re-identifying what the core needs were. Our goal was to prune off unnecessary features in order to focus on the core aspects that solve our user's real pain points.

We realized the core remains in the "insights" feature, so we decided to take out the stock portfolio feature.

Re-working on the insight sharing feature, we went back to one of users' pain points which was scattered information. Users pointed out that the scattered nature of resources on the internet makes it harder for them to browse through valuable insights. Financial research analyst reports are all over the internet, articles about a particular company are on so many news websites, industry professionals may have left some thoughts on a Subreddit that you're not part of, and Google search doesn't show partners or relevant stakeholders of some companies.

To solve this pain point of scattered resources of information, we decided to have a function of allowing users to aggregate investing comments from other platforms such as Reddit, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Medium when posting an insight, using cross-posting feature. The aggregation of insights could make Ants a hub for all insights shared on the internet about companies.

Ants Pulling Posts From Other Platforms Using API Integration
Prototype Showing Posts Imported From Various Platforms

Business Model

Initially, we had planned a subscription-based model for Ants. We wanted to find ways to incentivize users to share insights, whether it be posting on Ants directly or pulling a post from another platform.

However, we realized paying for insight subscription doesn't exactly align with our vision of freeing investment information to everyone.
We decided to adapt a new model that both incentivizes users to share insights and guarantees credibility of content.

That is to introduce a cryptocurrency trading on content providers - every Ants user gets an "investor token" which is a non-fungible token that can be traded. Users can buy investor tokens of those who produce quality insights and make profits by selling them. Users have incentives to continue sharing good insights to keep their investor token values high.

Token Incentive System Explained

This model seemed to fit our vision of decentralizing information more. The tokenized system would create a self-adjusting platform in which users are motivated to share good content to keep up their token values, and users with reliable, credible content get incentives.
This would also increase user engagement, as insight-sharing users need to keep up with posting content to maintain the token values, and insight-consuming users need to trade these investor tokens actively to make speculation profits.

Ants will be taking a portion of commission fees when users sell investor tokens back. This revenue model won't discourage any users from trading tokens of content-sharers, and it gives access to the shared insights to everyone, whether or not it is a paid user, aligning with our vision of giving everyone access to quality investment and business information.

Design Iterations

Iteration 1 : Overall Visual Design

The overall visual design faced some changes over the course of developing the product. With the color scheme, we initially wanted to convey cool, approachable sense to appeal to younger users, deciding on sky blue. However, based on user feedback, our brand associated with the idea of trustworthiness and reliability. We decided to use pine green color scheme with some gradient look.

The initial user feedback told us the font size was too small and was barely readable, so we made the font bigger and clearer.

As we pivoted away from having a set of companies a user is interested in, we removed My Portfolio section entirely and prioritized My Insights on top. We designed each box of Insights with blurred shadows behind it so that it attracts users to click the post more.

Initial Prototype
After Design Improvement
After Adding Token Feature
Iteration 2 : Company  Profile

The original design of Company Page had two action buttons - Add To My Portfolio and Like. However, the two different actions seemed to confused users during user interviews. There was really no need to differentiate the two actions, as the action could boil down into simply following the company.

Also, we decided to show how many other users are following the company in order to fulfill the need of users to know how / how many other users engage with the particular company. In addition, we also put small statistic on how many users on Ants listed the company as their current employer. This was a notable feature because users can go through this "X amount of Investors Work Here" to read more reliable insights about a company from a real employee.

Initial Company Profile
Current Company Profile
Iteration 3 : Search Bar

The search bar initially had a simple guidance message: "Search". However, after conducting a few usability tests, we found out users were often confused of what they could search for. Having an accurate description of what users are expected to do is an important quality in UX writing. We changed the message so that the search bar nudges users to search for any of the 3 components: investors (other users), companies, and sectors. By having a clearer message, users were able to know what to expect from search results.

Initial Search Bar
Current Search Bar
Iteration 4 : Explore Sector Card

In the Explore page, users are able to explore 30 different sectors by looking at sector cards. The initial design of a sector card had a title of the sector and logo image files of top 3 companies in the sector. However, since the logo images had a wide variety of color scheme, the explore sector section seemed too distracting visually. To ensure users to browse sectors they want more easily without visual distraction, we redesigned the card so that when a user hovers on a sector card, the saturation of image logos appears. We lowered the saturation of default cards so that the card a user selects can be more highlighted.

Initial Sector Card
Current Sector Card


We built an interactive prototype based on initial wireframes and user feedback we got after design iterations.

Startup Competition

Having produced a working prototype, we joined a few startup competitions in South Korea. Ants was awarded "Creative Award" at the Republic of Korea Army Startup Competition 2021 and was selected as one of the finalist teams (Top 25) at the National Defense Startup Challenge 2021.

Business Plan Pitch For The National Defense Startup Challenge 2021

Ants was selected for the K-Startup Challenge Program 2021, which is the biggest nationwide startup challenge program hosted annually by the Korea Institute of Startup & Entrepreneurship Development. Representing one of the 30 startup teams coming from the Ministry of National Defense division, we had a chance to pitch our product to VC panels and mentors.
Ants was then selected as a finalist team at the K-Startup Callenge Program (Top 50 of 7300+ teams).

K-Startup Challenge Program 2021
National Defense Startup Challenge 2021

Key Takeaways & Future Steps

With this project, I was able to experience a full ownership of a product development cycle. From the ideation stage of identifying user pain points to pitching the product to startup competition judges, I gained insights on what truly builds a good product. I also built practical skills around designing hi-fi prototypes with Figma, prioritizing features based on impact on users, and conducting user interviews.