DeKalb Neighbor

Financial wonderboy, 19, makes Emory home

By Ashlye Hylton
Wednesday, March 27, 2002

Front page of DeKalb NeighborVarious movie posters litter the walls of the first floor dorm room at Emory University’s Harris Hall; snack products ranging from Quaker granola bars to the remains of a left-over Burger King meal fill the small plastic stackable shelves.

Miscellaneous papers and articles of clothing spread throughout the room reflect the scenery of a typical dorm room occupied by two college freshman. The only thing untypical about the room is its 19-year-old resident.

For five years Brett Klasko has been the founder and CEO of InvestorsAlley.com. The Web site, based out of Klasko’s home state of New Jersey, is an on-line financial news site which provides information ranging from comprehensive business news to opinion columns.

The free site has more than 50,000 registered users, who receive daily e-mails providing insight and analysis in global financial markets. Recognized as a leading financial news source by “On-line Investor Magazine,” and “Infoseek,” the Web site attracts advertising from several on-line financial firms.

Klasko said although he had not previously received any formal business training, running the business has allowed him to gain maturity quickly.

“I haven’t had any real textbook business training or knowledge. It’s been a lot of trial and error and I’ve been learning and picking it up as I go,” he said.

When his grandparents, Elwood and Elaine Becker, gave Klasko a subscription to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine and several shares of McDonald’s stock as a gift, the then 13-year-old said he was not impressed.

“They were constantly pressuring me to get into the stock market,” Klasko said. “I didn’t really want that type of gift. But once I had it, I figured I would follow it.”

He eventually began to closely follow the market, and in 1996, with financial assistance from his father, Ronald, Klasko created InvestorsAlley.com.

“When he started becoming interested in the market, I thought it was kind of neat that he was playing around with it; I thought it was a nice hobby,” Ronald Klasko said. “Business people around the country were taking him seriously, so I thought that I should, too. I started to realize that this was serious and somehow this 15-year-old kid was developing a business.”

Klasko said after following the market, he became attracted its fast paced movement.

“I became interested in the thrill of making money overnight,” he said. “I became fascinated with how the markets moved. I guess I can credit my grandparents partially. I got involved in the market because of them.”

Klasko, who just last year was a senior at Cherry Hill East High school, recently returned to the school to speak to several classes and former classmates as well. His achievements have been recognized by Who’s Who Among American High School Students in 1999, and by Who’s Who In Executives and Professionals last year.

The young entrepreneur was also invited to attend the National Young Leader’s Conference, and Presidential Classroom, held in Washington, D.C. Yet, Klasko contends he really is an average college freshman.

“I run a company, and that’s a job,” he said. “But when I’m hanging out with friends, I am myself. I have two different levels; when I’m in an interview or on a conference call, I have to make sure that I am really professional. When I spend time with friends or at a fraternity even, it’s a whole different me.”

Klasko credits time management as his method to fitting the business, school and pledging for the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity into his schedule.

“My plate is more than full, but it’s all time management,” he said. “It’s tough; sleep is a valuable commodity. I don’t want to burn myself out, and if I don’t balance my time out to have a social life and play sports, it’s going to eventually burn me out.”

A former member of the Cherry Hill East High baseball team, Klasko relieves stress by playing basketball.

“I go to the gym to play ball a lot,” he said. “And I get out on nights to kick back and relax.”

After evaluating business programs at the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin, Klasko settled on Emory.

“When I visited the campus, I really liked what I saw. I felt the school could really help the company grow and the professors in the business school have been more than helpful in going overboard to help me succeed.

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