Sophomore demystifies stock market with clever app

Kate Jamison, Online News Editor

For many students, scrolling through apps on a smartphone is just another daily habit. But for sophomore Eli Engelman, opening up one particular app has an added thrill.

Engelman started an iPhone application called iStockAlerts in the summer of 2014, a few months before he started as a freshman at Tulane. Since then, the app has over 7,000 downloads and peaked at number 36 in the finance section of the Apple app store.

He started the app during his senior year of high school after doing a summer internship at Brock Capital Group in New York City.

“During that internship, I started playing around with stocks,” Engelman said. “I was looking at the same three technical indicators and then I thought ‘wouldn’t it be very easy if someone could put this on an app?’ Actually I didn’t even think app at the time, but if there was someway that you could get alerted when one of the indicators was occurring because that’s literally what I would check every day…it just kind of took off from there.”

The app works by following certain technical indicators and alerting app users when something changes regarding one of the stocks that they are following, giving them recommendations whether to buy, sell or hold the stock.  

When the app launched, it was a simple proof-of-concept app geared for downloads and press coverage. A few months after the first launch, Engelman met with two mentors who signed on to help him with the app. The three are co-owners of iStockAlerts.

In early 2015, the 2.0 app launched. The new version included all the same features but added a subscription component where users could access enhanced features for a monthly (or annual) fee.

“Since then we have just been pushing downloads,” Engelman said. “There have been a couple of interviews over the summer that have been very beneficial for us. Right now we are just trying to spread the word on social media and increase our ranking in the app store.”

Engelman is a sophomore in the A.B. Freeman School of Business, majoring in finance with a minor in sociology. He said his peers in the business school have been supportive of his endeavor. 

“Everyone is really interested in what we are doing and is intrigued about how it works,” he said.

The team works with a development group based in Mumbai, India, called Quixom Technologies, to build the application. Engelman said he Skypes with them four or five times a week.

“They’re up at the wrong hours,” he said.

Engelman communicates with his team members throughout the week as well. He estimated that over the summer he spent 40 to 50 hours a week working on iStockAlerts, while at school he spends a few hours a day on work related to the app.

“The progress we made from first semester last year to first semester this year was amazing, it was exponential,” Engelman said. “So if we do that again and again that would be very promising. But right now we are just trying to grow the user base and see how much we can do with it.”

When he isn’t working on iStockAlerts or attending classes at Tulane, Engelman is socializing with his fraternity, Zeta Beta Tau, playing tennis or watching one of his beloved Chicago sports teams.