This Austin startup is like fantasy football for investing

July 15, 2016

For Daniel Kulvicki, watching football was always something fun to do on a lazy Sunday. But it wasn’t until he got into fantasy football that he really started to understand the intricacies of the game. Instead of just watching his favorite teams and hoping they win, he tracked individual players, learned how their stats affect the team as a whole, and took a deeper look at the strategy and strength of winning teams.

And Kulvicki wasn’t alone. Today, hundreds of sites help you track, plan and even bet on fantasy football leagues, and people are more interested in tracking stats than ever before.

Now, Kulvicki wants to bring that kind of interest to the stock market. Just like football before fantasy leagues, the stock market is most deeply understood by professionals. But if amateurs can learn what to look for, they can start tracking the stock market and even get involved without going through a middleman (and giving him a cut).

“We wanted to take that concept, the gamification of a sport, we wanted to take that to the stock market and create an environment where people can enjoy and learn at the same time,” Kulvicki said. “The biggest problem that most people have when talking about the stock market is knowledge.”

To do that, Kulvicki and his co-founder, Kevin Callihan, are building Copper Street, a game that uses real stock market data to help players learn what to look for when trading in the real world. But users can also go into a real mode, investing real money and potentially growing it with successful stock purchases. By buying fractions of a stock, players can buy into popular stocks like Google or Apple without putting up hundreds of dollars for a handful of single shares.

While playing, users learn how to follow the news, track company performance and even read historic trends that can help them more successfully invest their money. The game provides a smooth transition from playing with in-game currency, called stamina, and investing real money. However, players never have to invest anything, and can play for as long as they want in the freemium mode.

Kulvicki ultimately wants people to have more control over their money.

“For example, there are 90 million millennials, but less than 20 percent are investing today, and that number is decreasing over time,” he said. “We're trying to change that … Copper Street is the street between Wall Street and Main Street. We're going to bridge that gap.”

Kulvicki noted that many “Main Street” investors have little control over their money in pension funds or 401(k)s, even as they look to rely on it for retirement income or other revenue sources. Instead, they’re paying fees to have it managed for them when, with the right set of skills, they could do it themselves for free. Kulvicki hopes that Copper Street will be able to give users those skills easily thanks to gamification.

Players will be able to compete both with and against friends, and not just by comparing whose stock portfolio is doing best. There are trivia games where players show off their knowledge of the stock market, along with league play where players can team up with friends.

The app isn’t quite ready for prime time though. Kulvicki and Callihan are working with a handful of developers to ship it later this year, but are raising money to finance the app’s creation. Right now, they’ve raised about $200,000 in a $1 million seed round.

Images via Copper Street

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