Imagine if you could pare your odds down in playing the stock market to just a few other people, and make your bets based on a smaller pool of people who were also placing bets on the stock market? you can do that. A startup in Britain has sought to gamify the stock market, and they have literally made a game out of it. That should go a far way to helping them lower the costs for financial investing, says Troman, while extending the life of participation in investing, which can be a bit dull if all you have to look forward to is a yearly prospectus or a bored call from a broker to state that the portfolio has "shifted."
To celebrate their release out of beta, we asked co-founder of Trade Chase James Tromans to answer a few questions about his experience with Microsoft BizSpark and the launch of his company on Azure. He did not disappoint. Trade Chase holds the interesting (or notorious?) distinction of being the first company of its kind to earn a gambling license from the UK government.
There company helps you gamify the stock market, which we feel is also a form of gambling (but we shall save that for another time). What makes the game different is that you are not playing against the market itself. You are only playing against the people playing against you. This company won't go unrecognized, as we feel the idea is pretty brilliant.
BizSpark: Tell us who you are and your role in the company
Trade Chase: We are the co-founders and managing directors of Trade Chase. We make decisions about the direction of the product and the company and we work with an amazing team to execute our plans.
BizSpark: What is your company’s mission?
Trade Chase: To reduce the cost, complexity and risk of financial investing, while still allowing users to experience the excitement of playing the markets.
BizSpark: In 140 characters or less, tell us what your company does:
Trade Chase: Trading game where you don’t have to beat the market to make money, only those people you are playing against.
BizSpark: Tell us about your Azure based solution.
Trade Chase: Trade Chase makes full use of Azure to host our website. The combination of the stock market with social gaming means that a scalable infrastructure really does come into its own. For example, we have to maintain a ranked leaderboard for each of our games, and this leaderboard can change every time our worker updates a stock price from our data provider. Stock prices are changing all the time so there are real implications for us here.
In all of our games, players only have to beat those they are playing against directly. The player with the highest score will win, even if they have actually performed really badly in absolute terms.
We have three primary game types: Up or Down; Day Trading; and Stock Pick. Each game works slightly different and the games are designed for different skill levels and preferences. The Up or Down game is probably the quickest to get into, but people tend to settle on the Day Trading game after they understand the basics. For the investor within you, the Stock Pick is a perfect option as it lasts longer and requires a broader knowledge of the markets in order to succeed.
BizSpark: How is Azure implemented in your solution?
Trade Chase: We host a staging and live environment on Azure, and the latter interfaces with a UK based server necessary for regulatory compliance. We have three SQL Databases and a number of different workers configured for each environment. We host as much content as we can on the Azure CDN and we have begun to make use of Azure Table Storage. After all, when dealing with stock data, there is a lot of it and it is not usually a good idea to put it all into a relational database.
BizSpark: How did you get excited about Azure?
Trade Chase: Well, this question in past tense, but to be honest we’re still getting excited about Azure every day. The benefits are numerous; from scalability through to managed servers, anyone who has worked with their own dedicated machine(s) before knows how tiresome these types of issues can be. However, for us it is being part of a growing and evolving product and being able to make use of pretty much everything Azure has to offer, one way or another. The type of development work we do is pretty complex and involved so it is great to be at the forefront of such a rock solid offering from Microsoft and squeezing out every drop of benefit we can.
BizSpark: What were the Azure features that prompted you to decide to build on Azure?
Trade Chase: Initially it was simply about avoiding the management of our own servers and keeping costs down. However, our requirements have evolved since then and now we enjoy the scalability and benefit from the newer offerings. We are looking to start using Service Bus in the future.
BizSpark: What specific value are you getting from BizSpark beyond the technology?
Trade Chase: We have received a significant amount of support from BizSpark in more ways than one. Not only does BizSpark help promote us where appropriate, but we have also benefited from a half-day at Microsoft’s HQ in Reading to take part in an Architectural Design Session. During this session we were able to discuss some of the technical queries and considerations that we have surrounding the best way we can utilize Azure. It was a two on two sessions with Microsoft experts, and we really felt that it was worthwhile.
BizSpark: What has been your biggest “aha” moment since founding your company?
Trade Chase: Each member of our team will have their own take on this, but for me it was when I was in a store at the point of sale and the seller started making small talk, asking me what I did for a living. I managed to pitch Trade Chase in about two sentences and before I knew it, he was exploring our home page on his work computer. Each time I discuss Trade Chase in person I am always looking for the best way to get someone excited and understanding the product as quickly as possible.
James Troman and his co-founder Colin Smith like to be a little cheeky, as this send up to James Bond attests.
BizSpark: What advice do you have for companies that are thinking about building in the cloud?
Trade Chase: Do it. And do it with Azure. Even if you’re not hosting a .NET application, Azure is growing to support a wide range of open source technologies too. This is great since you still get all the benefit of working with a professional and well-organized company.
BizSpark: What is the one thing that you would like readers to take away about your Azure app?
Trade Chase: TradeChase is a fantasy stock trading game that allows you to make money without having to beat the market. Instead, just beat those you are playing against directly. It combines principles from online poker and social gaming with real market data in real time. It’s exciting and accessible so try it out!