THE BLOG

This CEO Hired His Most Loyal Customers -- Here's Why

11/30/2015 01:52 pm ET | Updated Nov 30, 2016

Kunal Desai always knew that his passion lay in the markets. He began trading during his freshman year of college and perfected his strategy over thousands upon thousands of trades. When he finally found a strategy that worked well, he knew that he could keep it to himself and do very well. However, he wasn't content with that solution. Instead, he wanted to teach his strategy to others who were interested in stocks but just hadn't been able to find a great strategy. This led to the launch of Bulls on Wall Street in 2008.

Kunal started this as a one-man operation, but quickly realized that he needed a team to fully realize his vision. His first student, Maribeth Willoughby, picked up the strategy very quickly. Before long, she was able to keep up with Kunal's trades and was trading alongside him in the Bulls chat room. In fact, her skills had grown so much that Kunal made the decision to hire her as part of the Bulls team.

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Kunal (right) with students at the Bulls house.

From there, he hired another one of his students, Jordan Brown (currently BOWS Director of Education), to develop his ideas into a formal curriculum. When asked about why he joined BOWS, first as a student and then as a team member, Jordan offered "Kunal's passion for trading is why I first joined the Bulls on Wall St service. As we traded together, it became obvious he attacked everything with that same level of passion and commitment; I knew I had to be a part of that, so I joined the Bulls team."

Because of the nature of his business, he was able to get to know Maribeth, Jordan, and other former-students-turned-Bulls on a very personal level. Of Jordan Brown, Kunal says "I trained him when I was doing 1 on 1 training and he saw how first hand his writing skills from reading his trade journals." Because each member of the leadership team was once one of Kunal's students, each hiring decision wasn't based purely on a resume and an interview, but rather the skills that Kunal had witnessed them developing firsthand. This in turn has led to a very unique company culture. "One of the best moves I have made that has helped us grow is that all our employees were students of mine at some point," says Kunal. "Having a group of partners who have learnt directly from you how to trade and have been mentored on business, trading, life gives us a company culture where every person thinks in lockstep with the other. We share the same values and look at trading the same way."

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Kunal and some students at a Vegas convention.

Kunal's students also had great things to say about this. "When Kunal started tutoring me, I was a complete market novice," says Maribeth Willoughby, current BOWS VP. "Like any great teacher, he not only taught me, he inspired me to continually learn and grow as a trader. I joined him and Bulls on Wall Street so that I could help inspire others to pursue their trading dreams." Current Director of Sales Blake Anderson said, "What first began as a desire to learn a new skill turned into a dream come true. As my journey to learn the profession of trading continued to progress, I couldn't help but to notice that Kunal was more than a trader. He is a mentor and someone that you want beside you in all aspects of life. Given the chance to work beside him and give others the same opportunities in life through trading, joining the Bulls on Wall Street team was a simple yes - a must do."

While the move to hire customers sounds unorthodox, Kunal has shown that it can work out. All organizations face challenges when they grow, but the fact that BOWS' leadership team is so close-knit has clearly helped them stay on the same page as they continue to expand.

If you are considering taking Kunal's approach and hiring some of your most loyal customers to join your team, here are a few questions to think about:

1. Which customers fit in with your company culture and share the same values?

2. Which customers possess a thorough understanding of both your product and your target market and how to relate to them? The best customers you can hire are the ones who match your targeted buyer profile as closely as possible.

3. Which customers have unique insight and perspective about improvements that can be made to your product to better serve your targeted buyer profile?

In short, you are looking for customers who engage with your product/service beyond a simple purchase. They are the ones that willingly leave feedback and genuinely want to make your company better.