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How Rapunzl's Investing App Levels The Finance Playing Field, Opens Up Job Opportunities To Students

How Rapunzl's Investing App Levels The Finance Playing Field, Opens Up Job Opportunities To Students

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic lockdowns shined a light on financial illiteracy, an unsolved problem according to Brian Curcio and Myles Gage, the co-founders at Rapunzl Investments, a Nasdaq Inc-powered (NASDAQ: NDAQ) app that's using data-driven technology to unlock the markets to a new generation of investors.

The co-founders, who bonded over topics relating to the economy and stock market while attending school together during the financial crisis of 2007-2009, came upon the idea of Rapunzl when they realized their peers—even those in pursuit of Wall Street careers—had difficulty grasping how the markets actually worked.

“We realized a lot of our friends had no clue what we were talking about,” Gage said. “In taking account that these are kids from elite schools, and they were ultimately pursuing careers on Wall Street, as well, we figured that if they lack the knowledge, then this is probably a main street problem as well.”

Their conclusions prompted the development of a platform that allows individuals to learn and interact with the stock market in an engaging, but simulated manner.

“We developed this app in which we give each user $10,000 fictitious dollars to buy and sell publicly traded companies,” Gage said. “We realized that we can engage users similar to a social media platform, but also have an education component to it.”

Why Rapunzl: The name Rapunzl comes from the idea that the returns obtained on Wall Street are often viewed as inaccessible to main street investors.

“We’re essentially providing equitable access to financial markets,” Gage said in reference to how Rapunzl was able to amp up app engagement. “Once we built the product, we went about getting users by hosting our first high-school investment competition in the Chicagoland area, and we got 2,000 students to participate.”

During Rapunzl’s inaugural competition in April of 2018, which was focused on engaging around the concept of investing and connecting participants with financial services mentors, senior Destiny Davis placed first among more than 2,500 entries.

Davis was awarded a $5,000 scholarship for winning the Ariel Investments and Nasdaq sponsored event, allowing her to study computer science and finance at Northeastern Illinois University.

“From that point, we would host competitions around the country with that being one of the initial ways in which we started marketing the app,” Gage noted.

App Functionality: Unlike traditional stock market simulators which rely upon delayed data, Rapunzl is powered by a Nasdaq data feed, allowing users real-time pricing on U.S. listed securities. Additional features include complex order types and liquidity fees associated with stocks under $5 that make the experience more realistic.

“We try to incentivize the purchase of bigger name companies and learning,” Curcio said. “In terms of the gamification, we keep people engaged with weekly and monthly competitions.”

Through Rapunzl, the founders say they’re improving financial literacy. Given the pandemic, their efforts around leveling the finance playing field were further accelerated.

“There’s a lot of volatility in the market and so people are paying a lot more attention to it,” Gage said in a discussion on Rapunzl’s work with Chicago education firms and schools to build out educational resources for students.

“This summer I taught a class of seventh graders about how to invest in the stock market in which I leverage the educational resources that Brian and I, and some other members of our team have developed over the years,” he added.

Platform For More: Cucio and Gage amped up their efforts around content, developing videos about stock market topics like diversification and market cycles, as well as charity with the founding of the Destiny Project, a collaboration with the GCE Lab School.

The Destiny Project provides financial assistance and educational opportunities to low-income, minority students who have been historically disenfranchised from the financial world. Alongside the Destiny Project, the co-founders are pursuing opportunities with institutions like Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS), promoting financial awareness and literacy across college campuses.

“In addition to that, Brian and I have been actively fundraising for our nonprofit initiative, the Destiny Project, and we have a target of $150,000.”

Thus far, the platform secured nearly half of its target fundraising amount through a financial sponsorship from GCM Grosvenor, a global investment and advisory firm headquartered in Chicago. The funds will bolster Rapunzl’s high school program for 2021, as well as kick off the inaugural Destiny and Scholars cohort, a 12-week program for recent high school graduates and city college students.

“It’s going to be immersive and teach them about the soft and hard skills needed to have success in financial services, pair students with mentors, post-lunch and learn sessions,” Gage said in a statement on using the event to level the playing field and provide students clarity on different careers in finance.

“It’s really to just give students a leg-up,” the co-founder said.

To learn more about engagement in finance through Rapunzl’s initiatives, click here.

Courtesy Photo.


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