October 15, 2014

Northeastern Grads Launch Waylz – Gamify the Stock Market

Competitive spirit lies within all great entrepreneurs. 

Competition itself has spurred many a startup and is omnipresent among our ecosystem. 

Want to know for sure who is the better kiteboarder among your group of friends? Get yourself a WOO

Think your business is better than the next? Sign up for Startup Rounds

Want to prove your agency is the best in Boston to help brand and market startups? Compete in Brand-a-thon

Not to mention events like WebInno, Vistaprint’s recent $10,000 Challenge and of course, hackathons.  You get the point… 

What about the stock market? Sure, I guess you could compare portfolios with your friends, but most people don’t actually control that... And that doesn’t sound the least bit fun. So, how do you truly figure out who knows the market best? 

Well, you download an app, of course. 

Out of Northeastern comes Waylz, an app for “Gamified Finance.” 

Waylz, a social community that through gamification, fosters and rewards individuals to further their knowledge of financial markets, was founded by Balazs Sarkany, Fawaz AlObaid and Ahmed Alkhaled. 

Sarkany, a native of Hungary, came to the US in 2006 as an exchange student at Canisius High School in Buffalo, NY. Determined to remain in the States he rowed his way into college, earning a crew scholarship to Northeastern. 

AlObaid and Alkhaled are both natives of Kuwait, where Alkhaled currently resides. The team is based out of WeWork on Atlantic Ave. and is working with IDEA, the Northeastern Accelerator. 

The trio, all of whom carried an entrepreneurial drive into college, met at Northeastern and, by chance, worked alongside each other during their co-ops, including one at State Street. 

Sarkany and AlObaid tell me the time they spent working together showed they could transfer their friendship into business, as the foundation of their bond was born out of a work environment. 

In June of this year, knowing they wanted to start a company together, the three met for coffee in Boston to discuss business ideas. As Sarkany puts it, “we wanted to be able to look back and say, we built this.” 

Knowing they wanted to play in the finance space they realized they needed to change the perception of the market – boring, intimidating, risky, etc. 

It wasn’t long before they started RFMarkets (Risk Free Markets) and began building Waylz, the company’s first app, to encourage individuals to become involved and less intimidated with the investment world around them in a fun rewarding way. 

How does it work? 

The ultimate goal is to become a “Wayl,” as in Whale, the term commonly used for a top prospect or someone bringing high financial value. Starting as an “Intern” you work your way up to coveted top status.


After downloading the app you log in through Facebook and begin challenging friends. Simply select a friend you want to compete with, choose an investment from the New York Stock Exchange, put up your desired amount of Waylz Coins (awarded 100 just for joining), set your parameters (time frame, estimate, etc.) and once your friend accepts the challenge, you await the results. 

The challenges, essentially head-to-head bets with play money, are based around a company. I can select HubSpot (NYSE:HUBS), predict what their stock price will be 30 minutes from now (can be as short as 5 minutes) and challenge a friend to make his or her prediction. When the 30 minutes are up, whoever has the closer prediction wins the other’s Waylz Coins.

As you win more challenges (you can invite friends or share through social to earn more coins) your status grows and you work your way up the ladder to Wayl status. 

For those that aren’t engrained in the stock market Waylz seems like a fun way to learn more the way it works and the terminology that comes along with it. Not to mention, seeing if you’re able to out perform a friend who has an expensive wealth advisor… 

Some people believe you don’t need to be a finance major to pick stocks and Waylz could be the platform to prove that point. 

The former Northeastern trio is fighting against perceptions that have been driven into people for generations, but they’ve come up with a non-intimidating way of doing so. 

Mobile gaming is hot and people love competition. However, I think the real draw for consumers will come if (when) Waylz makes available actual monetary transactions. 

We’ll keep an eye out and see where RFMarkets takes this. There is an opportunity for this to be a learning tool, providing value to schools and revenue for Waylz alongside obvious monetization strategies such as advertising and commissions on real-dollar wagers. For now, it’s a fun new competition. 

So… Want to find out for sure who knows the stock market best among your friends? Get Waylz.

Josh Boyle is Director of Community & Marketing, VentureFizz.  You can follow him on Twitter @jb_sid
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