STORY BY SID KANWAR, PHOTO BY EMILY YAO
Passionate about economics and teaching, Gunn High School seniors Eshan Gupta and Shantanu Khaladkar founded Invest Bright in 2021, an organization that aims to teach middle schoolers simplified and accessible financial literacy while promoting a mindset of responsible trading and not buying into the “meme mania.”
After Gupta got to know Khaladkar at a summer internship, they discovered a shared passion for finance. Shortly after, the pair competed in the acclaimed Wharton Global High School Investment Competition, and from there decided to start a financial literacy club at their school, with the goal of teaching high schoolers the basics of finance.
The “aha” moment grew from a realization of Gupta’s.
“If high school students don’t know this much, I’m not sure what middle school students can do,” he said. “So we decided to found Invest Bright.”
According to Gupta, business literacy is an important skill for people to know, as it helps kids understand how the businesses all around them work and teaches them responsibility.
“Managing money entails a large amount of responsibility especially amid the hype and sentiment-driven investment environment today,” Gupta said. “And it will ultimately let kids get a better understanding of managing money.”
As a first step, the organization hosted a highly successful and well-received competition called “Cubs of Wall Street Challenge” over the summer, where middle school students managed virtual stock portfolios, attempting to gain as much money as possible.
Invest Bright taught competitors about basic financial concepts, such as the stock market and company value. Teams competing in the challenge were then given a starter amount of $10,000 in virtual money to invest in the stock market; whichever team had the maximum gains that the end of a month would advance to the next round. Round two of the competition required students to develop an investment strategy of their own. Teams then presented their strategy to a panel of judges, which encompassed the third phase.
“Their strategies were complex and they were pretty well advanced,” Gupta said.
He also noticed that many of his students were joking about investing memes such as Dogecoin and “diamond hands,” an irresponsible “gambling mentality” that Invest Bright rejects. Instead, Gupta and Khaladkar encourage their students to invest responsibly by understanding the trends of the stock market rather than blindly following the hype.
While Invest Bright has become successful, the organization initially struggled with finding teachers.
“[People] came to one meeting, there was some small thing, and then it just didn’t work out,” Gupta said.
Today, the organization has around ten high schoolers on their team, as well as professionals in the field providing guidance.
Finding interested students was also a struggle, which Gupta partially attributed to the lower presence of middle schoolers on social media. Instead of solely promoting the organization on social media, Gupta began reaching out to parent groups.
“We spammed the Whatsapp chats,” Gupta said. “And in the end, we had about 80 to 90 signups for the summer program for [the Cubs of Wall Street] competition.”
Invest Bright is currently working on a “Money Matters” program, which aims to provide children in underprivileged communities the ability to make stable financial decisions in the long run.
“We hope to empower our community around us to manage money better and get a responsible understanding of investing and business in general,” Gupta said.