Miguel Munoz, a junior accounting and finance major at the University of South Florida, began playing in Invoost stock market tournaments earlier this year. So far, he's pocketed $800 in winnings.
The website hosts online stock market tournaments that are structured a lot like fantasy sport games: players pay a small entry fee, pick stocks in the Nasdaq-100 using $10,000 of virtual money and trade them in an effort to generate the best returns for a cash prize.
For example, one game that is currently running has a $10 buy-in fee and a $100 prize pool, while another has a $2 entry fee and winnings of $20. Some sponsored games are free to play and also offer cash prizes. We thought about naming Invoost one of CNNMoney's 15 best financial sites and apps. But it doesn't really help you manage your money. It's just cool.
Throughout an Invoost tournament, which can be set to last anywhere between a couple of hours to a couple of months, players are ranked against one another in a live leaderboard based on their portfolio returns. At the end, players with the best winnings, typically the top 30%, take home a piece of the prize money.
"When people usually play virtual stock market games, it's like they're using monopoly money, so nothing is at stake," said Jonathan Levy, who came up with the idea to start Invoost with his classmate Tyler Maglione during an entrepreneurship class at IE Business School in Madrid.
"Even when you put a little bit of money on the table, it makes it a lot more interesting," added Levy.
After launching a little over a year ago, Invoost has already hosted more than 5,000 tournaments with players from around the world.
Most of Invoost's players are college students, including University of South Florida junior Miguel Munoz.
Munoz, an accounting and finance major, first learned about Invoost earlier this year when the website was hosting a special free tournament for college students. About 650 people entered for the chance to win part of the $10,000 prize pool.
"I had played around with a fantasy stock portfolio, but I was never serious about until I had the chance to win some money through an Invoost tournament," said Munoz. "I started keeping up with the news to figure out what could move certain stocks throughout the trading day."
As he continued to play in tournaments, Munoz said he developed a strong mix of analytical and technical skills that helped him successfully trade stocks and earn returns.
Since his first game back in February, Munoz has participated in almost 40 no-fee tournaments, and has pocketed about $800 in winnings. He won first place in two tournaments, including one in July when he picked Chinese search engine Baidu (, and it rallied almost 40% that month. )
Munoz now plans to play in more tournaments and is currently in a 9-day contest. He's betting big on Tesla (, with $9,500 of his virtual $10,000 in the stock. The remaining $500 is in cash. )
Though he's become a pretty decent trader, Munoz hopes he can use his new skills to land an internship in an equity research department this summer.
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