Starting an exchange-traded mutual fund is a little like launching a rocket. There are lots of different contractors and regulations. There are plenty of crashes.
Andrew Chanin, the 30-year-old founder of New York–based PureFunds, watched two of his first three ETFs fail before reaching Earth orbit. They liquidated because they couldn’t gather enough assets to cover expenses. A third fund barely made it aloft; it still has just $3.6 million in assets.