Participants Learn the Ins and Outs of Investing in Cryptocurrency and the Metaverse

Professor Ved and studentsThree County College of Morris (CCM) students are celebrating their success as winners in the Third Annual Investment Challenge held at the college. One of the many benefits students receive at CCM is real-world learning that solidifies their classroom experience and positions them for success. As evidence of that, participants in the Investment Challenge, which took place this Fall Semester, gained a comprehensive understanding of cryptocurrency, the rapidly changing world of finance and the importance of diversification, along with insight into the Metaverse.

Defying the odds, Austyn Zaug, of Florham Park, became the first-place winner for a second year in a row, as he earned a 391 percent return on investment this year. Sameer Khan, of Parsippany, earned second place with a return of 58 percent and during the challenge found a hedge fund manager to mentor him based on his success. Casey Warcola, of Mendham, came in third place with a return of 43 percent.

In the Investment Challenge, conducted by the Department of Business, participants each receive $100,000 in pretend money to invest in the stock market. This year was the first time students included cryptocurrency in their portfolios.
““What I learned is not to be afraid to sell at a loss and to reevaluate your position,” says Zaug, who is pursuing a second career at CCM in finance. Previously, he was a pastry chef but explains that when the pandemic hit he realized he wanted to pursue something that offered more stability and a better salary. When he first started the Investment Challenge, he was down 25 percent within two weeks. “I took the loss and then rebought into some cryptos that I had at a lower price and diversified the rest into other crypto assets that I was looking into at the time.”

Professor A. Vinay Ved, who teaches Investment Principles at CCM and oversees the investment competition, says students learn several important skills though the challenge.

“They learn to be analyzers and not reactors,” says Ved. “They understand that great investors need to manage their emotions, particularly during downturns, which our contestants did extremely well this year.”

Khan notes that he learned that there is a lot of volatility in cryptocurrency, but wise investment strategies can convert risks into gains. “They say high risk equals high reward, and it’s true,” he says, adding that his practice is to carefully analyze historical data and trends. Khan’s goal is to become a full-time day trader. He also appreciated the opportunity the challenge gave him to gain more insight into the Metaverse, the digital virtual reality universe held by such companies as Facebook, Google and Apple, that he predicts will become a major investment platform.

At CCM, students can earn either an associate degree in Business Administration to transfer to a four-year institution to earn a bachelor’s degree or a Business Professional associate degree for immediate entry into the job market upon graduation. The college also offers certificate programs in Finance, Foundations in Business and Small Business Management. To learn more, visit

Photo: (l-r) Sameer Khan, second-place winner in the Third Annual Investment Challenge held at County College of Morris, first-place winner Austyn Zaug and Professor A. Vinay Ved, who oversees the challenge, in the Business department office at the college.