If something bothers your daily life, if it conflicts with your core beliefs in a way you can't ignore, you may have just found your next business opportunity.

That was the case for Brad Katsuyama, a self-described "accidental entrepreneur" who quit his high-paying job on Wall Street to start a new stock exchange, called IEX. Founding a company was never one of his goals, he says. Instead, he identified an ethical problem and set about finding a way to fix it.

During the financial crisis in 2007, Katsuyama was working as a trader for the Royal Bank of Canada when he began to take note of certain inequities in the market. Some high-speed traders were profiting by buying the stock he was trying to buy before his order could be processed, driving the price up dramatically. So he and two of his colleagues decided to do something about it, by starting a new stock exchange that uses a "speed bump"--38 miles of fiber-optic cable through which orders are channeled, slowing down the trading process to make it more fair.

"People's perception of the stock exchanges are these nonprofit utilities that serve a higher purpose," Katsuyama says. "When you learn that they're the ones causing the issues, they're the ones tilting the playing field, there was a part of me inside that just said this is totally wrong."

IEX faced considerable resistance from the established exchanges, but ultimately got regulatory approval to operate. The company's success story demonstrates an important lesson: It's that gut feeling that you should listen to when thinking of business ideas. Diving deep into what you believe and knowing when those values are being infringed upon takes some serious emotional intelligence, but acting on those feelings can lead you to become a successful entrepreneur--even if you never wanted to be one.

Published on: Apr 12, 2019