Too many people are never exposed to the stock market and the huge returns that come from investing. It’s easy to see why not: market trading can have a steep learning curve, and existing tools for learning have traditionally been dry and academically focused. That’s the problem Brian Curcio and Myles Gage set out to solve in co-founding Chicago-based Rapunzl Investments.
“During my senior year in college, my partner and I were always talking about the stock market, and we knew that was atypical for our friend group,” Curcio said. “What we realized is that existing stock simulators are boring; there’s no gamification, and none of the excitement of winning money that motivates real people to get involved in the market in the first place.”
Rapunzl takes a different approach – more like DraftKings for the stock market than a traditional approach to portfolio management education. Their goal? To make investing cool again, and to make it something anyone can approach. It’s where their name comes from: “We view the world of Wall Street and high finance as perches in an inaccessible ivory tower,” Curcio said. “So Rapunzl is rolling down our hair to let people climb up.”
The core focus of their gamified stock simulation is, as such, education. “We did a simulated stock competition for scholarships and prizes,” Curcio said. “We hosted a scholarship competition with Chicago high school systems and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in April of 2018 for about 2500 students. Ultimately we were working with $20,000 in scholarships given away, and had a winner from an underserved school – she’s since gotten an internship at Ariel Investment that we were able to help facilitate.”
That early competition proved Rapunzl was onto something, landing them exposure from ABC, NBC, and Fox Chicago. But then came the challenge: how could they sustain that momentum?
That’s where FinTech Ranger came in. “We’ve been close to Michael Cavanaugh, and he helped us navigate introductions with stakeholders at financial institutions, and serving as advisory boards and advocates in companies to drive additional sponsorship contests,” Curcio said.
FinTech Ranger also helped Rapunzl through the early steps of implementing a sales process, guiding the young startup through the corporate deal cycle. With their help, Rapunzl’s already expanded into the Los Angeles, New York, and Boston markets, with plans to launch in colleges for the fall of 2019.
“FTR has helped us as we evaluate whether we could work with Apex or clear with Citadel: they’ve sat in on those meetings to help guide us,” Curcio said. “And beyond that, I’m 24, and Myles is 25 – sometimes FinTech Ranger has helped as an added legitimacy to what we’re doing here.”
And Rapunzl needs that kind of engagement because they have big plans for the kind of things their education program can accomplish. Through forging closer ties with banks, Rapunzl hopes to help them diversify talent for future recruitment. It’s an issue that can benefit banks with an area many struggle with: reaching out to young adults.
“We’re trying to take people from ‘this is a contest,’ and ‘this is a game’ to real investing,” Curcio said. “The avenue we provide gives a natural progression from practice in a simulator to opening a brokerage account.”
Disclosure: This post was written for FinTech Ranger, a Canright Communications client.