How it Works

From a technical standpoint, this competition consists of four main components:

  • This website, which communicates Competition information
  • The app, which performs all the ranking and scoring calculations, handles registration and emailing, renders this website, stores data, etc
  • An ‘educator-level’ paper trading account run by the Student Trading Lab at Interactive Brokers (IBKR)
  • A Slack Channel for participants to use for communicating with Contest admin, tech support, and general chatting

When you sign up on this website (Step 1, below), you’re making it known to us here at the Competition that you’re interested in participating by providing us with your University email address, your chosen tradername, and some other basic information. Once you complete this form, the Competition will invite you to create a paper trading account at Interactive Brokers.

This process is almost identical to how a professional Financial Advisor (FA) onboards a new client: once the client expresses a wish to have the FA invest on the client’s behalf, the FA will ‘invite’ the client within the FA’s own Account Management system. The client gets an invitation email to set up their account and follows the instructions. When complete, the client will have set up a fully functional trading account to which the FA has full visibility and permissions.

Our process works the same way – when you get your IBKR Paper Trading Account Invitation, you’re “joining” the competition as a “client” associated with our educator-level account. This is why you must use the paper trader invitation link that we send you when you create your account – if you don’t, then the Competition won’t have visibility into your trading activity to use for scoring!

If you do have other accounts with IBKR – either live or paper – it’s important that you keep track of which account is which by carefully recording your account IDs, usernames, and passwords.

Always be sure to find your tradername on the Registry and check to make sure the account you think we’re using is the one we’ve associated with your tradername.

Rolling Signup, Sponsored Competitions, and Eligibility

You can sign up in the Competition’s system and create a paper trader at any time. However, from time to time a sponsored competition is announced when one or more generous sponsors choose to contribute towards prizes!

At the time of this writing, for example, FinVC, (a venture capital firm), Horizen (a crypto tech firm), and Mesh (an incubator/R&D + investment firm) have graciously agreed to fund prizes for the second annual Spring Trading Competition– which will continue to grow and blossom in the coming years.

To be eligible for the 2022 Spring Trading Competition you must have signed up and set up your paper trader by the deadline, which was 25 Jan 2022. HOWEVER, if you missed that deadline you can still sign up, practice trading, and be ready for the next competition – which we hope will be soon!

Pruning Old Accounts

Bottom line: Trade once per month to keep your account active.

As time goes on, students will gravitate away from this Competition. They’ll graduate, drop out of school to create a massive tech empire, or maybe just lose interest in paper trading because of all the returns they’re raking in from their Live accounts.

This is fine and natural, but in order to avoid carrying an ever-increasing number of defunct accounts, we’ll delete any account in which no trading activity has taken place over the last 30 trading days. This rule is enforced as follows:

If your account falls into inactivity for a 25 consecutive trading day period, you’ll receive an email notice that you’re slated for deletion in 5 trading days. You’ll need to log in to your account and make a trade to avoid deletion. ANY trade, no matter how small, will satisfy this requirement.

Instructions

Follow the instructions below to sign up.

Step 0: Eligibility

You must be a currently enrolled graduate or undergraduate student with a ‘.edu’ email address.

Step 1: Sign up

Fill out this form and click SUBMIT:
Fill out my online form.

Step 2: Join the official Competition Slack Channel

Within one business day of completing Step 1, you will receive an automatic email welcoming you to the Competition and providing you a link to join the official Competition Slack channel. Follow the link and join the channel – you should use your tradername as your Slack username here. The Slack channel is the means by which you can communicate with the Competition admin and the other contestants. There, you can share strategies, meet new people, and ask any questions you have about trading, the TWS platform, or any other technical issues you might encounter. This channel is monitored by the Competition creator and we strive to fix any technical issues that crop up as soon as possible.

Step 3: Create your Interactive Brokers (IBKR) Paper Trader

Within one business day from the date on which you sign up, you’ll receive an invitation from Interactive Brokers (IBKR) to create the paper trading account you’ll be using for this competition. The subject of the invitation is Paper Trading Account Invitation, and the invitation email is sent from “”.

  • Use the link in your invitation email to sign up for a paper trader.
  • You must sign up for a paper trader even if you already have another account with IBKR.
  • If you haven’t received the email within one business day from the day on which you signed up (check your spam folder!!!).
  • If you still can’t find your paper trader invitation, send a Direct Message (DM) to The Architect using the Slack channel.

BE CERTAIN TO RECORD YOUR ACCOUNT ID, USERNAME, AND PASSWORD.

This information appears in a yellow box after you complete and submit your paper trading account information and it’s critical for your participation in the Competition. Note that your IBKR username is not the same thing as the tradername you chose when you registered. Your tradername is how you appear to the world on this website when scoring and statistics are published, whereas the IBKR username is the one you’ll use when you sign in to your paper trader.

If you run into a bunch of ????? when selecting your country
language error

…try changing the primary language to ‘English’ within your browser. DM The Architect on Slack if you still have trouble.

Step 4: Wait.

It takes about one business day – sometimes two or three – for your paper trading account to fully activate. Most of that time is due to obtaining your permissions for market data subscriptions from the various market exchanges around the world.

Step 5: Explore

Visit the Getting Started page. Install TWS and explore the Demo account for a bit while you wait for your account to activate.

Step 6: ACTIVATED!

You’ll know your account is ACTIVE when you can log in to TWS with the credentials you set up in Step 3. Sometimes there will be an awkward ‘limbo period’ during which you’ll be able to log in to your PORTAL using a browser, but you’ll get an "invalid username or password error when you try logging in to TWS:

language error

If this happens, don’t try to reset your password yet! This may only mean that your account is created, but not yet active. You will probably be able to log in to TWS on the next business day with no problem. If you still can’t log in after one business day, send a Slack DM to The Architect.

Step 7: Check the Registry

Confirm that the correct Account ID appears next to your tradername in the Registry

Step 8: Patience

As you wait for scoring to start, please be patent for a few days if there are other traders still setting up their accounts!