“It [Skaitube.com] started around three years ago. And, at least for me, it came from, I guess, the desire to make money sort of, as a young kid, without actually having to get a physical job.” ~ Brennan-Pierson Wang
(Transcript available below)
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Heidi Higgins: Hi there. I'm Heidi Higgins, and you are listening to K12 On Learning. Today, I want you to meet two very exceptional young men. They're brothers and entrepreneurs. They have created an opportunity to educate, especially young people, on the world of finance and investing. But I've also found that their new tools just might be good for everyone. Their trademark company is called SKAITUBE spelled S-K-A-I-TUBE, which means Share, Konnect, Aspire, and Inspire. It's a social venture platform centered upon financial education for everyone within the Gen Z community. Their program is unique to the industry, and it's built on virtual trading games where members can learn to make real money in an actual trading simulation. Welcome to Brennan-Pierson and Julian-Alexandre. I'm thrilled to have you here today.
Julian-Alexandre: Thank you. Well, we're glad to be on and to have this opportunity with you, Miss Heidi.
Heidi Higgins: We have lots to talk about today. Can you please introduce yourselves to us and a little bit about your background?
Brennan-Pierson: Yeah. My name is Brennan-Pierson. I'm 17. I'm a junior at the George Washington University Online High School. I'm very involved in the school. I'm the president of the Student Council. I also run a couple of different clubs along with my brother, including the Entrepreneurship Club, the Chess Club, and the Debate Club. Very interested in entrepreneurship and finance. Last summer I actually took a course on entrepreneurship at Harvard, really to help us actually launch what we're doing today. Outside of that, we also do a couple of different sports, mainly actually seeing tennis and martial arts. Our whole family is very into TaeKwonDo. So both my brother and I are first degree black belts.
Julian-Alexandre: And my name is Julian-Alexandre. I'm 15. I'm a sophomore at the George Washington University Online High School. As my brother said, we do multiple sports and also very interested in what we have to contribute to the school. I'm one of the sophomore class reps. And I also co-lead YES Club, the young entrepreneur and stocks club, with my brother, the Chess Club. And we're also pretty integrated with the GW Chronicle, which is our school newspaper and the Debate Club.
Heidi Higgins: You are exceptional young men. I'm just thrilled for the opportunity to visit with you. Now, I understand that you have a great interest in finance. So what interested you in that realm?
Julian-Alexandre: It started around three years ago, and at least for me, it came from, I guess, the desire to make money as a young kid without actually having to get a physical job. And so I thought, "What would be the easiest way to make money?" And since both my mom and dad are in finance, my mom was in sales and trading on Wall Street for a while, and my dad was in investment banking, did a lot of Wall Street stuff when he was younger, naturally they pulled me towards the investing side. They said, "The stock market is a good place to start." And so I sort of took my interest there.
And three years ago, both my brother and I opened up our custodial counts on TD Ameritrade. And I like to think that I was the trailblazer for my brother. I made this really magnificent trade with Tesla and he got all jealous. So I think it really stemmed from there. I think I was the main reason why my brother is so in interested in finance today.
Heidi Higgins: That's hilarious, Julian-Alexandre. You're the younger brother.
Julian-Alexandre: Yes. Two years apart, but two years ahead in brain intelligence.
Heidi Higgins: Two brothers.
Brennan-Pierson: Very debatable.
Heidi Higgins: I love this. Brennan-Pierson, did you also come across that kind of interest early on?
Brennan-Pierson: Yeah. Well, I mean, it's interesting. Our parents were both in the finance industries. Our family, in general, has a lot of background in finance and entrepreneurship, but aside from CNBC playing on the TV or them talking amongst each other about what was going on, they never really talked to us about it. When we came to them and said, "Hey, can we get some money?" They would always say, "Get a job, or invest, or do some something. But we're not just going to hand off money." So it's interesting, right? Because they never really pushed us very hard in this direction.
Like my brother said, I think the urge to get into finance was just it looks like a cool way to make money, right? I don't have to bag groceries or wash cars or cut grass. I can just invest in a company. And if it does well, I make money. I mean, of course, this was in the biggest bull market, I mean, the history of humankind. So it was an easy time to make money. We invested in Apple, and we thought we were geniuses. We were making money every day. And of course, now it's a little bit harder to do the same type of investing. But I think that was the original spark. Just it seemed interesting. It seemed cool. And it was an easy way to make a quick buck.
Heidi Higgins: Having your parents nearby must have been a big help in developing your success.
Julian-Alexandre: Right. Well, I think that, for us, we had a little bit of an advantage, right, because both of our parents were in finance. So whenever we needed help or we had questions, we could go to them and ask them. And one of the reasons we started, what, SKAI to what we're doing now is because we noticed recently a lot of our friends they're actually getting interested in this because of all NFT business and the cryptos.
I know the GME AMC tobacco was a very big turning point for a lot of people. They got interested in finance and investing, but they're asking us questions, right? They don't have anyone to ask because their parents don't work in that field. So it's very hard to learn about these things and get educated, right? I think, for us, it was easier because we had some background within the family. So that helped quite a bit.
Heidi Higgins: I love it. So you've taken that background and that built-in opportunity to gain knowledge. And you have now put together some opportunities for others to learn who may not have the same advantages. I want to ask you before we go into exactly what SKAITUBE is. You must have been video gamers.
Julian-Alexandre: Like any typical teenage years, still in the typical teenage years, video games play a big role in your life. We actually started with a mobile game called Clash of Clans, and it is a very legendary game, very old. And we love the company Supercell, so we followed with whatever game they came out with. And then Minecraft eventually gained popularity, so we started on that, and that's how we got into PC gaming. And gaming had a natural influence on our life.
Whenever we want to take a break, it's gaming. Whenever we want to talk with our friends, it's gaming. So gaming played a huge part in our lives. And I think it does with a lot of teens out there. And I think that's what gets a lot of young people interested. And I think that's what also keeps everyone. Whenever they need a break from the harsh realities of the world, it's naturally gaming. So I think it's a great resource for cool down, but obviously there is some bad connotation with gaming because sometimes it's all just nonsense and stuff. And so I can get why parents dislike it, but for kids like us, we like it.
Heidi Higgins: So you took your vast knowledge and experience of gaming, your interest and experience with financing and you have blended it together. Talk a little bit about what you are offering Gen Z.
Julian-Alexandre: Yeah, definitely. Well, I think what we're offering Gen Zs for people like us out there is really an opportunity to learn more about the subject of finance, but in a really unique and fun way, because I think learning finance in the traditional classroom teacher to student format, there are a lot of barricades to how we can do that because eventually it comes down to engagement, right?
The more engaged you are in the classroom, the more engaged you are in the subject, I think the more that you will learn about that subject. And I think when it comes to, particularly finance, I don't think a lot of people our age will want to listen to mortgages and invest your money for 20 years in an index fund, right? So I think really getting into the fun part of what you can do with investing, right, entertains that interest.
Just like when both my brother and I got interested, it wasn't necessarily the idea that we would be become rich in 20 years, but we could make a quick buck here and there by just simply investing our money and making smart financial positions. Of course, down the line, as you mature, you learn a lot about personal finance and how to manage your money. So I think it really comes down to time and experience.
Heidi Higgins: You're right. Learning about finances and investing is so needed, and the world is changing. It was not very long ago that we hadn't heard about Bitcoin or cryptocurrency. And I'm certain Gen Z is not the only group that needs this knowledge. So will you tell us how SKAITUBE came about?
Julian-Alexandre: Yeah. So we originally came up with the idea in mid 2021. Before that, we had had a non-profit called SKAIorg where we did pure learning classes for free. We actually partnered with some organizations and some community colleges around our area. And essentially, what we were doing with that was we were doing peer learning workshops. So we did workshops on creative writing or creative poetry or critical thinking, different topics.
And the purpose of those classes were really just to engage people our age, right, to say, "Look, there are classes in your school or programs that you attend where someone's lecturing to you all day, right, 'I know everything. I'm going to teach you what I know.'" But what we really wanted to do with that was we wanted to say, "Hey, we don't know everything, but we have some ideas. We'd love to hear what you think, right?"
So we found some initial success with that. That's probably around 2020, but of course, when the pandemic came and COVID hit, we had to move that format online. It didn't work super well. And that was when we were getting into finance. So we both decided, "Look, we're interested in this. Why don't we pivot and focus on what we're really, really passionate about, right?" So for the last couple months we've been developing different systems, validating game concepts. And now we're prepared to take this public and try to engage people our age and get them on the server to begin learning.
Heidi Higgins: It's impressive that you two brothers have teamed together and put together a financial education trading platform for your peers. It must have been very challenging.
Brennan-Pierson: Been a bit of a Rocky road because we always have that brother to brother rivalry. Julian-Alexandre he's a big fundamentals guy. He took a course last a summer on understanding fundamentals and analyzing stocks, whereas I'm a lot more of the short-term trader type of guy. I like to look at numbers and do fast pacing. Even from just a finance perspective, we speak two totally different languages. These past couple of months it's battle every day, "No, this is what I think." "No, this is what I think. This is the right way to do it." So it's definitely been a very interesting journey, for sure.
Heidi Higgins: So tell me a little bit more about what SKAITUBE is, what you offer Gen Z, a little bit more of your story. We're going to share the resources as far as your site and some of the exciting things you have coming up. I'd like to know some details.
Julian-Alexandre: Yeah. So SKAITUBE is a social venture. Right now we are completely free, so anyone can join us and join the community. But basic, SKAITUBE consists of simulated stock and crypto trading competitions. That's the sort of format that we are evolving around. So we've built up a system where people our age can just go onto our platform and they get $100,000 of virtual money. So they're not taking on any risk, and they could trade in any way they want, whether it's stocks or it's cryptos.
And realistically, when we have the games, we also have a real cash prize pod. So depending on how well you do in the game, the winner who has the highest portfolio at the end of usually five days, that's the length of our game, they win that prize pod. Now we've been accumulating a lot of sponsorships that have been going directly towards those prize pods. And so we've been hosting a lot of games recently to really incubate this idea and to verify it. Now we're actually starting to put it out there like my brother said earlier. And one of the most recent events that we're planning is the CASH Conference. It stands for the Crypto and Stock Hustle Conference.
Heidi Higgins: Unfortunately, gentlemen, you've let me know that the dates of this CASH Conference will be nearly in the past when this episode airs. However, two days will remain in the live competition. So I encourage our listeners to register and follow along. Take a look at what these brothers have created to teach their peers how to trade stocks, make educated financial decisions and observe others in this adventure.
Julian-Alexandre: It's really aimed towards Gen Z to get on. It will be a jam-packed week of exciting competitions. We've actually added more game modes to this competition, so you can do just more than just trading. There will also be best stock, most active participant modes. So it'll be very fun, very exciting. We'll even have a movie night. We'll have the big short movie night with some industry professional commentary. We'll also have guest speaker events on topics like NFTs, cryptocurrencies, stock valuations. So it'll really be a jam-packed five-day event where teens can learn more about finance and have fun while they're doing it.
Heidi Higgins: That's a great statement, and have fun while you're doing it. Yes. That's how I like to learn. You're not just playing around here. I have looked at your board of advisors. Guys, these are impressive leaders. How were two teenagers able to assemble such distinguished individuals to help them?
Julian-Alexandre: Well, I think it really came down to ... And by the way, our board of advisors was really formed because we have a lot of ideas in the pipeline, and now we're putting them on paper, putting them into action. And so to help with our roadmap, we formed a board advisors of industry professionals really within three segments: education, traditional finance, wealth management, and new finance, what Gen Zs are interested in.
And it really came down to, I guess, connecting and continuous marketing. We made connections because I went to a Columbia summer pre-college program. And my professor there was Gonzalo Dionis, and he specializes within fundamental analysis and the more traditional, I guess, thinking of finance. And he's the Vice President of Research at Bank Policy Institute.
And so he was able to become board advisors, which we're extremely thankful of because he has a lot of experience in this sort of industry. And he was able to introduce us to a multitude of people like Professor Jeannice Tse, who is also another board advisor, and she's the partner and portfolio lead at Centrifuge, which is a leading DeFi blockchain company. Through a lot of connections of outreach market we were able to connect with a lot of our board of advisors, and they have been helping us in these three segments of our roadmap that we have for SKAITUBE.
Heidi Higgins: Wow. Congratulations on getting the attention of these powerful adults to advise you as you develop your ideas into a roadmap for the SKAITUBE future. How do students or their parents log into the CASH Conference and take a look at what you've created? Then where do they go for more information about what you have going on? And finally, what can they expect when they get there?
Julian-Alexandre: Yeah, absolutely. So the CASH Conference, like I said before, will last five to six days. It'll be from April 17th through the April 22nd. It'll basically be on our website skaitube.com. And on our website we'll have a page just for the CASH Conference. That way parents and students can take a look at our entire schedule. We'll also have a list of all the speaker events that we'll be having, also our sponsors at the bottom page. And you can register from there. Like I said, it's totally free. And it'll be a pretty exciting event where students and teachers can log on and just venture through it like it was an in-person conference. And by the way, it's all on discord, which you can also access for free on the website. And so, yeah.
Heidi Higgins: Will you be hosting other events coming up in the future?
Brennan-Pierson: Yes, absolutely. Well, we have a lot of ideas in the pipeline, and we're actually working with some developers to improve the game that we've already built and make it even more robust. So in the next couple of months, we're actually going to be releasing private game features, team features. We're partnering with some other schools to host intraschool events as well. And I know we're also reaching out to over 200 investment clubs from around the US. So we're really looking to put together a big community of people who are interested in finance and learning about all these different things in this area.
So after this event, we're actually doing another game that it's going to be selected for the advanced players. Once anyone joins a server, they can see everything that we have planned out. We actually have a roadmap that we're releasing. So we're really planning to blast this out to students. Like I said, we're not charging anything for this. The goal is to make finance as accessible as possible for the younger generations. So of course, after this event, we're going to be running simultaneous competitions with prizes to get people engaged, get them interested and get the creative finance juices flowing.
Heidi Higgins: Well, I know what I want to invest in. It's you guys. This is amazing. Thanks for wanting to teach and answer the tough questions about finance, stock trading, those cryptocurrencies. Obviously, it's even more impressive to learn this from 17 and 15-year-old brothers. Any last words of advice?
Julian-Alexandre: Well, number one, thank you, Miss Heidi, for engaging with us and inviting us on the K12 On Learning Podcast. We really appreciate your time and everyone's time for listening to this.
Really closing statements is come join the CASH Conference, if you can. It's totally free, like I said. April 17th through the 22nd. And if you can't make that time, we always will have games in the future. So join our discord, join our platform. Maybe you'll get a kick out of it. Maybe you can invite your friends. And I guess really just experience the sort of environment and community we're trying to build and experiment with the game system we have. And who knows? Maybe even if you're just a first time beginner, you'll be able to win a game, make some real cash. So come join.
Heidi Higgins: My thanks to brothers Brennan-Pierson and Julian-Alexandre for joining us today. Their organization is called SKAITUBE spelled S-K-A-I-T-U-B-E, skaitube.com. I'm heading there now.
Julian-Alexandre: Thank you so much. Really appreciate it.
Heidi Higgins: Thank you for listening to K12 On Learning, sponsored by Stride. To learn more about online public schools powered by Stride K12, Stride Career Prep programs that foster lifelong learning or any of the private school or individual course offerings, please go to stridelearning.com or k12.com. Special thanks to Tree-K Studios for providing the music for us. Remember to subscribe to this podcast, and feel free to leave us a good review. We hope you'll join us next time for K12 On Learning.
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