Kapitall Puts Up Cash Prize to Get the Young Dabbling in Virtual Stocks

10/17/13Follow @jpruth

Playing the stock scene can be tricky, but New York-based Kapitall thinks it can use a bit of gamification—and real prize money—to get younger folks interested in investing.

This month the online investment platform introduced a monthly competition to encourage young investors to try their hands at overseeing virtual stock portfolios.

There is a shot at $100,000 in a “grand prix” at stake for participants. Gaspard de Dreuzy, the co-founder and chief innovation officer of Kapitall, sees this as a way to give the investors of tomorrow a bit of practice before playing with actual money. The company offers a game-style interface it thinks can ease users into picking stocks. Kapitall also lets people give investing a no-risk test drive with virtual currency.

“It is really important to let people work with and understand financial data to become better investors,” he says.

In addition to launching the tournament, De Dreuzy says Kapitall is busy building a mobile app to take the platform beyond Web browsers. The company is also exploring other mediums it wants to reach, but he says it is too early to share details. “We want to create an ecosystem of apps in various places and not just on mobile,” he says.

With the new competition underway, Kapitall plans to pick the three top winners each month based on how their virtual portfolios performed. Each first-place winner will be in the running for the $100,000 prize. All they have to do is accurately predict the fluctuations of the Dow Jones Industrial Average—piece of cake. This is part of the company’s plan, De Dreuzy says, to make investing less daunting and intimidating for people in their 20s and 30s. “Most other online brokers usually have customers that are above 50 years old,” he says.

As the public gets more access and exposure to investing tools, De Dreuzy says they need to get in the driver’s seat and become savvier about playing stocks. “If investing is a tacit experience, you’ll never really learn about it,” he says.

Founded in 2008, Kapitall wants to reach the layperson who is a novice at investing in the stock market. The company is considering developing other types of tournaments to encourage more users to give investing a try. “Learning by playing is what we’re trying to achieve,” De Dreuzy says.

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth