A lesson from Robinhood

by Trey Nosrac

“How is Trey’s young horse doing on the racetrack this season?” asked my techie friend.

“Brutal, a perfect storm of how to lose money in the harness racing game.”

“Sorry to hear that,” he said.

“Don’t be. My horse racing during the plague of 2020 gave me plenty of new material for a self-published, nonfiction book – 23 Ways to Lose Money Investing in a Yearling Trotter and Laugh about the Escapades.”

He smiled, “A bit of a niche audience.”

“To sell books, you need to have search words for potential customers in the title. Customers use filter words to find book titles. I used filter words such as money, nonfiction, trotter, escapade, and investing.”

He chuckled, “Anybody searching for all those matching words will land in an uncluttered space. Is self-publishing viable?”

“Hell no. Self-publishing makes investing in yearlings look smart. I’d rather sell my book out of the trunk of the Lexus.”

“I’m sure some self-published books make it out of the swamp,” he said.

“Yeah, about as many as horses that win the Hambletonian. Do you know who buys self-published books? The answer is nobody. Self-publishing is a combination dream and scam, a moneymaker for shady sharks that prey on wannabe Hemmingways. There may be more books self-published than books that people read from cover to cover.

“A tad pessimistic.”

“Realistic. But I have my fingers crossed that the trotters and pacers keep chugging along, so I can keep playing the harness game and playing author.”

“You need more chapters?”

“Sure, but more importantly, I’m keeping busy writing books because I don’t want to end up in crazy town.”

“You might have missed that train.”

Ignoring the shot, I said, “I get plenty of bang for my lost bucks in harness racing. This year, dreaming of elusive winners has been the one constant that keeps me afloat. Thinking about the horses and the races kept me off the ledge. Allow Trey to offer a bold statement.”

“Offer away.”

I cleared my throat for dramatic effect. “Should this virus linger, as many experts fear, the marketing opportunity to find new participants in the harness racing ownership and wagering ranks may never be as promising.I’m telling you that the lingering pandemic will drive people crazy. Today I read that college football games are toast. The winter could be bad. If the word could break through to the masses that investing in a harness horse is a wonderful, interesting, time fulfilling remedy, and that for the most part, you can participate remotely, the game could pick up some players.”

He nodded, “You may be on to something. Boredom has created a cultural phenomenon that is another form of gambling, an app for trading stocks name Robinhood. The app is super-hot. A lot of the players are young. Without bars, sports, or restaurants, they are looking for ways to fill the void.”

I perked up and chirped, “I’ve told you 10 times that investing in a yearling is more exciting than stocks. I know a few guys who play the stock market. When I read their tea leaves, these amateur investors don’t make money. Compared to the thrills, chills, and ups and downs of a living breathing animal that may race for money, reading numbers on a screen isn’t exactly a festival of fun.”

“Maybe harness racing could take some lessons from Robinhood.”

“What, that it’s easy to lose money?”

“Ease of entry. Robinhood is ultra-simple to get involved in, you can set up an account and start trading stocks or options in a few minutes. They lure people who do not know very much about the markets but are trying to fill long days with something new.”

“How does the company make money?”

“Commissions. It’s complicated, but they grab people with a ‘free’ trading marketing plan, but nothing is free.Robinhood is like buying a yearling, a gamble. The app is like the flip of a river card in poker or wagering a trifecta. The lure is that you can make a lot of money. In your rational brain, you know it isn’t easy, but you always think deep down in your mind that you can beat this game.”

“That’s our sport in a nutshell.”

He nodded, “This could be a good time for your sport. An extended period of boredom will lead to problems. People will be looking hard for new things to do, activities they may not normally consider, new ways to spend money, new pastimes where they can get involved. Since the lockdown started, Robinhood picked up three million new customers.

I replied, “And harness racing, a sport that is inherently a more dynamic product, should be able to pick up thousands.”