The Virtual Currency World Of Investing With Olim Dives

Olim Dives Banner In JordanWhen I first began investing in college with the money I earned from odd jobs in high school, I had no idea what I was doing. Online investing was a new concept back in 1997 and I couldn’t believe I could randomly press some buttons to buy and sell stocks. I was hooked and would purposefully arrange my college classes around market hours to get in some feverish trades.

What took exhaustive summers of working minimum wage jobs to save what little money I had quickly got wiped out making ill-advised trades. One time I bought a software company named Macromedia which I thought was a bank. Another time I bought a graphics chip maker named TDFX at the absolute top. The good thing about only having $3,000 to my name is that the most I could lose is $3,000.

It’s been 17 years since I first made my first trade online, and I’ve developed a much more thorough and systematic approach to investing. During this time, I’ve literally made and lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process. When you lose money, you start cursing the world and your stupidity. Just look at all the folks who bought into the Facebook IPO hype at $38, Apple at $700+, and any Chinese internet stock a couple years ago. Oops!

If only I had some type of platform where I could trade with virtual currency as realistically as possible for a couple more years. Maybe, just maybe I wouldn’t have made as many investment errors as I did since college. Maybe I would have been smart and shorted the home builders in 2007. Maybe I would have hedged out my company stock during the crisis to make sure I don’t receive a double whammy of a lower bonus and a lower share price. Who knows for sure. What I do know is that if you plan on investing your own money,do as much due diligence as possible. You won’t know your true risk tolerance until your positions start going the wrong way.

For those of you who are inexperienced investors, I’m pleased to introduce a startup called Olim Dives. Olim Dives means “future wealth and prosperity” in Old Latin and was started by Ben Hubbard and Roshan Vani. Olim Dives is a social investing site which allows users to trade a virtual $100,000 as close to real life as possible. You can also share ideas, compete for prizes, and learn from fellow users in the process as it’s a social investing site. Where was this stock market game when I was growing up?!

A CONVERSATION WITH OLIM DIVES’ FOUNDER, BEN HUBBARD

FS: Of all the places in the world, why are you currently based in Saudi Arabia?

OD:  I have spent 8+ years in the large capital construction business executing some of the world’s largest and most complex projects around the globe. In 2007, the recession sparked a global shift in business strategy within our industry lead by a boom in the Mining & Metals markets. As commodity prices rose, mining companies sought to mine and refine various raw minerals wherever they could find them.

Unfortunately, most of these raw minerals are located in arid deserts in not so thrilling places in the world. As a result,  I found myself working in various parts of the globe where raw minerals are abundant including Mongolia and Saudi Arabia where I am currently part of a team that is building the largest ever fully integrated Aluminum Refinery Complex.

FS: What’s your background?

OD: I am a 27 year old Mechanical Engineer from Dallas, TX. I am currently pursuing my MBA from the University of Massachusetts with expected completion in December, 2013. I have an avid passion for investing, something that I started doing when I was 16 years old.

I am a project controls analyst and have spent most of my career capturing data and performing extensive trend and risk analysis, while determining path-forward strategies to strengthen results.  I specialize in cost control, analysis, and forecasting, spending a lot of time building forecast models from the captured data

I love to travel, which working in these locations has afforded me. I have been fortunate to visit over 35 countries in the last 3 years. After spending many years in the corporate world, similar to you, I have decided that I am no longer fit for what it offers. I seek to shift into the startup/entrepreneur world where I can let innovation and creative control drive the outcome rather than procedures and politics.

FS: Is Olim Dimes part-time or full-time?

OD: Olim Dives is currently a new startup with part time work requirements, but I am ready to move into a full time pursuance. As an investor and someone who analyzes risk for a living, it is important to know when to fully invest yourself into a concept while balancing the risk exposure. However, with being in Saudi Arabia and Mongolia for the past 4 years that risk is starting to look plenty appetizing.

FS: Why Olim Dives instead of an engineering startup?

OD: Being exposed to investing at an early age has always driven me to take a keen interest in the stock market. As an entrepreneur, you are always looking to fill a void in a market sector where you feel comfortable and recognize potential, which I believe Olim Dives has. This coupled with my background in data driven analysis and personal investment success has led me to want to make sure others start investing early in life, and protect themselves from what so many are suffering from now, a lack of retirement income. It is easy to tell someone where to start investing, what material to read, or what to invest in, but another thing to inspire someone to want to invest and educate themselves. That is what I seek to do.

FS: What is your target audience / clientele for Olim Dives?

OD: We’re largely seeking new traders and investors, or those who have no idea where to get started. For those seeking to get into the stock market, but have never found the courage to put their own money at risk, it is a perfect site. It not only allows members to learn from one another, but it adds an element of excitement through the various features such as the stock challenges and badge achievements that can potentially earn a member real cash. The site is perfect for anyone who loves to talk stocks, socialize, and keep up with the real time trades and opinion of others. Olim Dives is not your average message board.

FS: What is Olim Dives’ value proposition? Why should users sign up?

OD: First and foremost, Olim Dives makes virtual investing fun. Instead of just making virtual trades which eventually become monotonous, Olim Dives offers an array of features and contests that allows you to accumulate virtual cash in many ways. We believe that a little healthy competition between friends can add another layer of excitement to stock trading and keep people engaged and interested in the market, the ultimate goal.

Through challenging other members in stock games, earning badges, or gaining blog post votes, it is not just about the virtual trades like many other sites. The best part is that the virtual cash is not earned for nothing. It can be used to win real monthly cash prizes, as well as qualify for our annual investment bracket challenge tournament, Dive Madness, that offers over $15,000 in cash and prizes.

I believe that learning to trade stocks is much like learning how to perform your first job. You learn how to think analytically and manage your time effectively in college, but learn most of your required job skill sets from your colleagues and mentors. It is much easier to learn visually than to learn strictly through reading and studying.

Olim Dives takes that principal and applies it to the stock trading environment. You can read all the investment books you want and study all the definitions and metrics, but it is not the same as learning from others in real time, asking questions, performing the actions (trades) yourself and even more importantly, maintaining a level of enjoyment.

In addition, Olim Dives functionality affords privacy settings that allow members to choose what they share with others, where their information is posted, and what information is displayed from others both in and out of their network.

Olim Dive Dashboard FeedFS: What are the future possibilities for Olim Dives?

OD: Growth in members will allow the Olim Dives team to start finding data trends from the trades made across the site and possibly build algorithms for forecast and predictive modeling. We may also look for ways to turn the data into risk analysis measurement. On the platform side, we also wish to add “fantasy stock” leagues and possibly even launch a college campus tournament to see which University has the best team of traders.

We also seek to expand our integrated services by offering options trading, foreign markets, commodities and futures to bring as real as possible environment to our users. We will continue to add additional badges and stock games, and are even looking to create a “store” where users can use their virtual cash to purchase various “power-ups” such as a 10% increase on your next trade or $5,000 if you win your next challenge. Maybe we will change the name to Mario Brothers Investing.

FS: What are the biggest hurdles to invest and those who want to join your site?

OD: The biggest hurdle for a new investor is being comfortable exposing yourself through failure. Although we offer a lot of privacy capabilities, we seek to show people that failure is not only normal, but necessary and acceptable in stock trading. It is learning from these failures, as well as gaining the opinion of a trusted network before you commit to making them that is where Olim Dives benefits investors.

Investing is a notoriously private affair and we seek to open it up and make it more social so people can learn and get ideas from one another rather than from a professional who only looks to beat average market returns. We are passionate about people having control over their own investments and financial well being. A lot more people would be retired had they taken it upon themselves to fully understand their investments and gain control over them. Investing is not rocket science and can be a lot of fun, and Olim Dives seeks to provide the platform to do so.

GET YOUR FEET WET WITHOUT GETTING DRENCHED 

I’m pretty sure that if I practiced for at least a year of virtual investing, I would have done a better job at growing my portfolios. Some of the mistakes I’ve made include: 1) Buying instead of selling, 2) selling instead of buying, 3) buying too much on margin and needing to exit a position due to margin calls, 4) doubling down when I should have set a loss limit, 5) buying too soon, selling too late. Practice makes better, and investing is no different.

Once you start trading, whatever position you hold becomes the most interesting thing in the world. For example, as soon as I got into Chinese internet stocks, I now read everything there is to know about all of them. I’ve got Google Alerts set up, I read every single news headline attached to each stock online and so forth. You instantly want to become an expert in your investments, which bodes well for future investments you make.

Equities should be a cornerstone part of your net worth. There’s plenty of risk as we’ve seen from the various corrections over the past 20 years. What I suggest every newbie investor do is try before you buy with Olim Dives or manually build your own portfolio and keep track of your performance. Only after you’ve made at least a handful of errors and understand the basic concepts of investing would I then recommend you then graduate to real money.

Remember, you will not know how strong your risk tolerance is until you invest real money. When you graduate from virtual currency make sure you do your due diligence, leg into positions, and maybe even burn a dollar bill to see how it feels to lose. The markets are crazy right now. Trade carefully!

Update 6/8/2014: Unfortunately, Olim Dives shut down.

Best,

Sam

 

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. Jenny @ Frugal Guru Guide says

    How awesome is that?! If this is around in a couple of years when my oldest can start to understand it, this is totally going to be incorporated into our homeschooling curriculum. I’ve wanted a tool like this for years and have been very frustrated that no one made it.

    Dives literally means “riches,” olim means “once” or, conversely, “some day” or “one day.”

    If I’d had this, maybe I would have had the guts to short Groupon and Facebook like I wanted but chickened out on.

    • Ben Hubbard says

      Hi Jenny! I am glad you like the site concept! It is an excellent tool for children and young adults to begin learning what the stock market and investing is all about. It attempts to make it fun and intriguing through social gaming features in order to maintain interest. I look forward to having your son as a future member. Cheers!

      Ben Hubbard

  2. My Financial Independence Journey says

    I toyed with virtual investing some time ago. It’s a great idea, but it’s hard to be motivated to do the necessary research when it’s not real money and tons of other priorities are competing for attention.

    Since I’m now basically a long-term investor, trading for short term gains doesn’t interest me. Although I do have a secret wish to practice futures trading with virtual currency.

    • Ben Hubbard says

      I agree with you. When I first conceptualized Olim Dives, the main thing I thought of was how am I going to keep people coming back and interested. As you stated, just making virtual trades can be very boring as it gets old quick and eventually you just want it to be real. I encourage you to check out the site and the gaming side which allows you to challenge people 1 on 1 in various stock challenges. An example is the $10K 3 stock challenge where each person gets $10K in virtual cash to spread how they choose across 3 stocks of their choice. You choose how much you wager. As you accumulate virtual cash you can win up to $15,000 in available cash. Thanks for the comment, hope to see you on the site!

      Ben Hubbard

    • Financial Samurai says

      It’s one of those things where if I was a high school teacher in finance or economics I would institute this game and make it a competition! The simulation would do more for kids than any type of reading from a textbook or listening to a teacher drone on and on.

      I jumped in during college and became hooked on economics, politics, and the markets ever since. Without getting my feet wet, I never would have found my way into finance as a career.

  3. Ken says

    I don’t know much about this company… but UpDown.com has been around for years and is a great tool. Now on to bragging rights… I started my portfolio back in 2008. I would make very careful thought out trades, and did so consistently for about 6 months and then just stopped. I just now logged back into my account to see where I would be standing if I had used real money and I have had an average of 21.9% return. Not too bad for a college student making trades and purchases based off of Forbes and Business Insider magazines :)

  4. krantcents says

    This sounds like a great idea. Learning about stock by just reading is just not as good as actually trading. Virtual trading is the closest choice.

  5. retirebyforty says

    I tried virtual stock trading when I was a freshman in college. I think it had a 3 months timeline or something like that. I got some blue chip stocks and it didn’t move at all. Eventually, I figured out that for these virtual games, you just need to go crazy with penny stocks. If you flame out, oh well.. it’s just a game.
    How is your Chinese investments going? Please do an update soon.

    • Ben Hubbard says

      Hey Joe, avid reader of your blog, keep up the good work! I tend to agree with you regarding the concept of the virtual investment concept where it becomes boring and to maintain interest you start trading pennies or making crazy trades. In fact, I started off in penny stocks myself (did not last long). The one thing we tried to do on Olim Dives is make sure that people wanted to earn more virtual cash and actually care if they lost it. That is part of the reason we put into place monthly real cash prizes as well as the annual “Dive Madness” tournament where we have three tiers of the tournament. For example, if you finish in the top 50 members on the site based on virtual cash accumulated you compete in the “Gold” tier tournament against 40 other people for $1,000 cash and the tournament winner package (includes custom golf bag, Nike Dry Fit champion polo, 1 year subscription to Real Money and a bunch of other stuff). Anyway, thanks for checking out the site, and look forward to be a continued reader.

      Ben Hubbard

    • Financial Samurai says

      The Chinese investments have done well. Take a look at Baidu and Sina… up about 12% and 30% respectively. Renn Renn had a nice run to $3.20 and has dropped back down to flat.

      Penny stocks.. that’s why there are so many penny stock newsletters, websites, and advertisements. PUMP and DUMP!

  6. Untemplater says

    Aah I was wondering where the name came from. That’s neat it stands for “future wealth and prosperity”. I never would have guessed it was Latin as I’ve never studied that language. I played an investing game once and had fun with it. Incorporating a social aspect is a smart idea. That’s cool you live in Saudi Arabia and have been able to travel to so many places!

    • Ben Hubbard says

      Living in Saudi Arabia has been a great experience and afforded me many opportunities, Olim Dives being one of them. I recommend to most people if you get the chance to work overseas on a good package, take it. It not only allows you to see the world, but you can really get ahead financially. Not an easy life at times, but well worth it in the end.

  7. Randy says

    Thank you very much for starting this site Ben! I’m a 19 year old college student who has been looking for a next step to learn about investing. You addressed a lot of what I encountered when trying to learn about investing: people either give a bunch of book recommendations or say to just go at it. With actual cash prizes and competitions, I hope I’ll be more motivated to do the research for my trades.

    I’ve also been on a penny stock e-mailing list for a few months so I can see how their recommendations end up without actually trading. The potential quick rewards are alluring, but I know too many people who say it’s a bad idea.

  8. Ben Hubbard says

    Hey Randy, glad you enjoy the site! Penny stocks are funny in that they always seems to be the first thing that draws people into investing in the stock market, so I can’t hate on them too much for that, but they are also one of the major reasons people lose money and deter them from coming back to the market. I would avoid them personally, and if you have a urge to trade them, do so virtually first so you can get it out of your system. Cheers and be sure to connect with me on the site if you have not already!

  9. Barbara Friedberg says

    Virtual trading with possibility for collaboration with others as well as prizes sounds fun. It’s definitely worth checking out if you are interested in the stock market. Best to lose virtual money before your own!

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