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Chris Isaacson on how BATS competes with NASDAQ and NYSE | KC Roundtable

Chris Isaacson; BATS Global Markets

Chris Isaac­son of BATS Global Markets

On the morn­ing after Hal­loween, entre­pre­neurs gath­ered for KC Round­table at First Watch in West­port. Many were still sleepy-eyed from tak­ing their chil­dren trick-or-treating the night before — and calm­ing down mid­night sugar highs from the kids’ con­sump­tions of too many Reese’s Pieces.

Regard­less, all ears were fas­tened to hear speak about BATS Global Mar­kets : a mod­ern day story of David ver­sus Goliah; an infant stock exchange from the Mid­west ver­sus the pre-existing, inde­struc­tible indus­try giants, NASDAQ and the New York Stock Exchange.

Break­ing the duopoly

BATS was founded in 2006 to stick a wedge in the sys­tem and force NASDAQ and NYSE to loosen their strict con­trol of the mar­ket. But the only way for BATS to pos­si­bly com­pete with the man­power and cred­i­bil­ity of the duop­oly was to use its small size to its advantage.

Focused on run­ning extremely effi­ciently, BATS was able to charge just $0.01 per 100 shares, com­pared to the $0.10 per 100 shares charged by its com­peti­tors. And after a lit­tle help from key investors, includ­ing Lehman Broth­ers (pre-collapse, of course), plus some savvy guerilla mar­ket­ing, BATS achieved its goal. Both NASDAQ and NYSE have come down in price to $0.03 per 100 shares, and BATS now han­dles 13 per­cent of the U.S. market.

Ser­vice wins”

Isaac­son, mid­dle, explains how new tech­nol­ogy made the mar­ket more acces­si­ble, enabling BATS to dis­rupt the sta­tus quo.

BATS main­tains the effi­ciency needed to com­pete by plac­ing heavy empha­sis on extremely informed, well-rounded, and rigorously-vetted employ­ees. As Isaac­son points out, “ser­vice wins;” every BATS cus­tomer who calls the Trade Desk has his ques­tion answered by the first per­son to pick up the phone. As you might imag­ine, in order for this the­ory to hold water, every BATS employee must under­stand as much about the mar­ket and tech­nol­ogy as the next.

Those hope­ful to work for BATS should expect a Google-like hir­ing process. After an exhaust­ing eight to ten inter­views, those that remain stand­ing can hope for a spot with BATS . And once they’re accepted, they are exten­sively trained at BATS University.

Fix­ing Higher Education

Unsur­pris­ingly, the tal­ent BATS seeks (and gets) is the best of the best, the cream of the crop. They want employ­ees who take ini­tia­tive, who are prob­lem solvers, and who think out­side of the box. Unfor­tu­nately, Isaac­son has observed that even the most tal­ented col­lege stu­dents are grad­u­at­ing with these job skills. There­fore, Isaac­son serves on the board at the , where he obtained his MBA , in effort to bridge this gap and instill cre­ativ­ity and con­fi­dence into students.

For an entre­pre­neur who per­sists that he’s “nothin’ spe­cial,” he’s cer­tainly got our attention.

is president of Tether New Media , which helps B2B companies raise website traffic by 10 to 30 percent. Follow her .

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