Payouts: now ten times bigger!

We’ve been live with our new rules for two weeks now and very happy to announce that everything is working even better than we’d hoped. So well in fact, that we can lift our lifetime payout limit, from $10 to $100.

That’s enough to kickstart anyone’s trading career. You know what to do next: sign up here!

Spark Profit’s Origins

This post is by Justin Short, CEO and Founder of Nous.

Spark Profit sunrise

Hi! I wanted to explain why we built Spark Profit and why it’s so special. So let me start with a bit of personal history.

Before I and four very smart people quit our jobs to found Nous together, I was working at a large Investment Bank as Regional Head of Electronic Trading Strategy. I’d been working in that industry for 14 years and judging by my performance reports, I was pretty good at it. So why quit?

One of the reasons was that I saw an unbelievably huge opportunity – not just for me but for literally millions of people. Working in the financial markets, I knew first-hand how important technology and quantitative skills are to trading profitably. After all, I commissioned and built strategies that helped our customers shave valuable basis points from their costs, improving their efficiency and ultimately benefitting their customers, the public.

But I also saw that human intuition was still very much alive. Certain colleagues at all the financial firms I have worked at: UBS; Deutsche Bank; and Merrill Lynch / Bank of America, were fantastically good at understanding the rhythm of the market. They could sense when the tide was about to turn, and make a lot of money by being one of the first to jump in and by riding the movement all the way. They naturally understood the psychology of the market.

I have a lot of respect for these people.

But one thing bothered me. They were to some degree all from a common mould. They were all university graduates, mostly male, all speaking English. They were comfortable wearing a suit and living in the city. Of course, they’d all made it through interviews with similarly demanding firms: they had to fit a mould. But was all that really necessary, in order to be a great trader?

I didn’t think so. Not at all.

Which begs the question, how many other people never got the chance to find their calling, just because they failed to fit the mould?

When I had my Eureka! moment, I found a way to connect everyone in the world to the markets and give them the right tools and incentive to win, without requiring anything from them in return. That is Spark Profit. Of course, I was happy that the system would be profitable for us, the creators. But I was ecstatic that at the same time it would be such a tremendous force for equality. Unlike Investment Banks, Spark Profit doesn’t care where you are or what you look like. Spark Profit doesn’t even mind if you have another job!

We like to say that Nous is an “opportunity factory” – because every day, a thousand more people experience that opportunity. Which is why when we started out, back in 2012, we created the Nous company vision:


A world in which millions of people are living richer, happier lives thanks to their talents and our assistance.

Nous was the first company in the world to truly make trading free — and then even cheaper! Only Spark Profit offers you, and everyone in the world, a chance to test and refine your trading talents, while guaranteeing a skill-based payout that requires no payment and no deposit. We’re incredibly proud that we’ve never taken a single penny from any of our 80,000 players and yet we’ve already been able to award $60,000 in prizes.

We hope you like what we’re doing too. If you do, please spread the word (and maybe earn yourself a little extra income at the same time!)

Press Release: New free global sentiment indicators to boost players’ market returns

22 May 2014


Tokyo-based financial data company Nous has added global sentiment indicators for all markets, to its free-to-play Spark Profit fantasy trading platform.

Spark Profit's free Global Sentiment Indicator (Example)

Spark Profit’s free Global Sentiment Indicator (Example)

Using an intuitive visual format, the sentiment indicator provides an additional source of information to help players when making predictions. It shows whether all users of the system are buyers or sellers of each instrument, in aggregate. Spark Profit players who make accurate predictions collect points that convert to cash prizes.

To activate the free sentiment indicator, users will need to make 15 predictions of their own. Uniquely, historical data is also shown, to help players learn when to follow the crowd – and when to lead it.

There are currently 29,000 Spark Profit users in 194 different countries, with around 3,000 additional users signing up each month. Players have earned rewards totalling US $30,000.

Spark Profit can be accessed via or downloaded from iTunes or Google Play.

Many Spark Profit players started out with no previous trading experience, but the best have developed original strategies that consistently outcompete their peers and outperform the markets.

Nous intends to monetise Spark Profit’s price prediction data by integrating it into a range of professional data feed products it will sell to hedge funds, banks and other financial institutions. A pilot international hedge fund is trialling feeds that Nous launched in February.

Justin Short, CEO of Nous, says: “The purpose of our new free sentiment indicator is to help market participants improve their trading strategies by showing them the average person’s viewpoint, from right now all the way back to Spark Profit’s launch in January. This tool also hints at the powerful insights available in our Spark Data products – the suite of feeds we supply to professional traders.

“In launching the global sentiment indicator we have been at pains to design a system that provides exclusive, actionable information without creating a systemic bias for our players. We hope existing and new users will use it to boost their returns.”


Justin Short CEO [email protected]

Neil Boom MD Gresham PR +44 7866 805 108 [email protected]

About Nous

Nous was founded in 2012 by Justin Short and four other former high flying Merrill Lynch traders and technologists, who saw an opportunity to help firms understand and predict financial markets, by empowering people around the world to discover and hone their natural trading talents.

It launched Spark Profit, the virtual trading game, in January 2014.

Why Trading Is Like Tetris

Everyone loves Tetris! Of course they do – it’s a fun, intuitive game and the simple interface and quick feedback get you playing in no time at all. Play for long enough though and you’ll find yourself in a strange trance. Your brain turns into some kind of Tetris machine: in your mind’s eye you’re packing together everything around you; you see the tetrominoes fall down behind your closed eyes just before you sleep.

But no matter how much you’ve played, I’m sure you’re not as good as the person in the video below. The action starts off reasonably fast but the pace keeps building and by 4 minutes it’s quite amazing (if you’re in a hurry you might want to skip straight to that bit).

However the part you really must see is 5 minutes in. When the game “finishes” the credits start scrolling – and a secret mode starts: Invisible Tetris! Honestly, it makes me proud just to be the same species as the player. It may not be the most useful skill in the world but those talents are so far beyond mine that it seems super-human.

Aren’t these kinds of feats uplifting? How wonderful that we can do these things!

Flash Anzan

One more example, this time of a relatively new competition called “Flash Anzan“. This is really just mental arithmetic: 15 numbers are flashed up on a screen, each between 100 and 999, and you just need to add them up. The question is, how fast can you do it? Go on, have a guess. 15 numbers – twenty seconds? Ten? Five?

Here’s your answer:

Humans can add fifteen 3-digit numbers in 1.8 seconds. That’s 0.12 seconds per number – faster than the blink of an eye! The numbers change so fast I cannot even read them all (perhaps youtube or the original camera doesn’t help but still, that is a sign of how extraordinarily fast it is). Aren’t our brains wonderful?

Paid to play: Tetris

Now for a thought experiment. Imagine if you could be paid to play Tetris, but only by working at a large firm. The firm requires all employees to speak English and have a Bachelors degree or higher. In addition you need to pass some pretty tough interviews which are designed to check that you’ll “fit in”.

Do you think that this is the optimal hiring method to find the world’s best Tetris players? We certainly don’t. It’s remarkably similar to what Investment Banks and Hedge Funds do though, for the skill of trading.

That is why we built GAIN, our free game of market prediction.


Just as anyone can play Tetris, anyone can make a prediction. Also like Tetris, we’ve spent a lot of time making GAIN as accessible and intuitive and fun as possible. You can pick it up for a minute, then come back minutes, hours or even days later and continue playing.

Unlike the firm in the thought-experiment above though, Nous doesn’t care about your background. We don’t care how old you are. We don’t care when or where you choose to play. We don’t ask you to fit in with anyone’s expectations, except your own. What we care is that you have as equal chance to win as everyone else who plays.

By making GAIN available to everyone, we believe that we will find the world’s best predictors. We will find the people whose intuition seems to be a super-human ability, just like in the videos above. People whose first step on the path to excellence was simply seizing the opportunity. People like you.