DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – For many, the thought of investing in the stock market right now causes serious anxiety. But a new Web site, WeSeed.com, aims to calm some nerves by making the market more accessible.

Amy Lieberman, a 40-year-old stay-at-home mother of two in the Chicago suburb of Naperville, Ill. says she’s found investing on the site to be a bit addictive.

For the last few weeks she’s managed a portfolio of stocks she’s chosen to invest in with the faux money given to new users of WeSeed.com, which officially launched on Monday.

“It’s just nice to listen to the news and hear things and translate my experiences, research the companies and buy stock and see how it all pans out,” Lieberman said.

The site is the idea of Jennifer Openshaw, a financial services entrepreneur and author. It gives users a million WeSeed dollars to invest and encourages participants to choose companies based on personal experience or companies in sectors that interest them. It does so by reinforcing the “own what you know” investing philosophy of Peter Lynch, former star manager of the Fidelity Magellan fund.

Investors looking for stock ideas can start by searching broad categories such as fashion, sports, entertainment, parents and gamers. Even investors with real portfolios may be interested in looking for stock ideas using the site’s search function. Users can type in key interests or favorite things and obtain a list of related companies.

Type in “pizza,” for example, and the site pulls up Yum Brands Inc., parent company of the Pizza Hut chain; Dominos Pizza Inc., Papa Johns International Inc. and others.

The search engine isn’t perfect but will get you started. For instance typing in “lacrosse” predictably produced Dicks Sporting Goods and Foot Locker Inc., but also produced General Motors which makes the Buick LaCrosse.

The social networking aspect of the site helps empower users. Lieberman said not only has she learned about trading stocks, but she’s used the knowledge and confidence gained to make actual investments.

Her husband, Steve, a Naperville cardiologist, has handled most of the family finance decisions since they were married, but she said now she feels more confident in helping him.

The site also has a number of contributing experts who blog and share knowledge with investors. Los Angeles-based fashion designer Jeffrey Sebelia is the fashion expert on the Web site.

Sebelia, the designer for Real American Brands, was the 2006 winner of the “Project Runway” reality show on the Bravo cable network.

“I try to do trend reports that cover sort of lower tier trends that Macy’s and Target may be doing,” said Sebelia, “and keep an eye out on the high fashion world so people can decide whether they want to invest.”

“This is a place to test drive ideas,” said Openshaw. “You can learn and use information people share to go out and do it for real.”

AP-ES-12-08-08 1803EST


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