Innovation & Enterprise


UCL startup uses algorithms to help traders improve portfolios

UCL economics graduate Aryan Heydari is set to launch his fintech startup Algo Factory, which aims to give online investors access to powerful algorithmic trading strategies.

Aryan Heydari, founder of Algo Factory

28 January 2020

With support from UCL Innovation & Enterprise’s entrepreneurship team, Iranian-born Aryan secured a five-year, unrestricted visa, allowing him to scale up his business in the UK.

From pet project to business proposition

During his UCL degree, Aryan developed a keen interest in trading and coding, inspired by his studies and summer internships at trading firms in the City. However, when it came to securing a job in his final year, 2018, he struggled to find the right sort of role – in part due to companies’ reluctance to sponsor his visa. 

Alongside his studies, he’d also been developing some ideas of his own. “I’ve been working on a project to design new algorithmic trading strategies since the first year of my studies at UCL as an economics student. When I found it difficult to find the right role after graduation, I started thinking about taking my algorithmic trading project to the next step and commercialising it as a startup.”

“I heard about UCL Innovation & Enterprise through an Iranian friend of mine who was a successful entrepreneur at the UCL Hatchery incubator. He encouraged me to get in touch with the team to discuss my startup project. I arranged a meeting with one of the business advisors, and asked if it would be possible to do something bigger with my algorithmic trading project. He advised me on possible approaches to start a business in this sector and suggested I write a well-researched business plan to take my idea to the next step.”

Support to stay  

Algo Factory was accepted into UCL’s startup programme at BaseKX (UCL’s entrepreneurial hub), and the team supported Aryan in his successful application for a Start-up Visa from the UK Home Office. 

After developing his business plan further, Aryan was also able to get endorsements from industry experts, including the chairman of Citi Group Global Markets, the director of ICM Capital and the CEO and founder of London Cognition. This helped him upgrade his visa to an Exceptional Talent Visa (Tier 1), a five-year, unrestricted visa which will allow him to scale up Algo Factory in the UK.

Using the power of algorithms 

The main aim of Algo Factory is to help institutional and individual traders improve their trading portfolio, giving them a better long-term strategy, all by using the power of algorithms. 

Traders will be able to select their portfolio of equities, forex, shares or other trading symbols and specify certain parameters they expect from their trading, e.g. a specific level of risk or return. The algorithmic software will then optimise their strategies based on these inputs.

Identifying clients 

Algo Factory’s market research has identified that there are 9.6 million traders globally, and 250,000 in the UK. 10% of these traders are already using some form of algorithmic trading and therefore represent key potential customers for Algo Factory.

The company’s core product is now functional and active on their website for people to try. The next phase will be a major marketing push. They’ll look to approach brokers and trading firms who have clients that may be interested in Algo Factory’s new offering. The company is even considering partnerships and revenue sharing agreements with trading firms.

UCL’s entrepreneurship hub

UCL Innovation & Enterprise works with UCL’s staff, students and alumni to help bring ideas to life for the benefit of wider society and the economy. Developing entrepreneurial mindsets is at the heart of our extracurricular programmes, which include workshops, bootcamps and challenges. The best new ventures apply to join the Hatchery, a dedicated startup space within BaseKX, UCL’s entrepreneurship hub.

“The community in the UCL Hatchery is great,” Aryan says. “There are a lot of interesting startups and talents gathered in one place. Hence tackling a problem and coming up with an innovative solution becomes much easier through this community.

“The workshops and events are excellent and there are monthly accountancy, marketing and legal consultation sessions, which have been particularly helpful for me. I’d strongly recommend UCL Innovation & Enterprise to all UCL students who have innovative ideas and are thinking of becoming an entrepreneur.”


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Photo of Aryan Heydari supplied by Aryan.

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