Want to earn life-changing returns in the stock market? Get in on the ground floor of a brand new industry like the metaverse -- an iteration of the internet that creates interconnected virtual worlds. Facebook's parent company, Meta Platforms, has reignited interest in metaverse development after announcing plans to commit $10 billion to build what it calls the successor to the mobile internet.

As the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats. So if the metaverse is as transformational as Facebook expects, two companies -- Roblox (NYSE:RBLX) and Snap (NYSE:SNAP) -- stand to benefit as their young audiences and early-mover advantages help them rise above the competition. Let's explore how these two leaders could turn this dream into a reality, generating explosive returns in the process. 

1. Roblox

Up over 70% from its direct listing price of $70 per share in March, Roblox's stock is on fire. And despite boasting an already-massive market cap of $78 billion, the video game company still has room to grow as it capitalizes on its youthful audience and compelling niche. 

Person enjoying a virtual reality experience.

Image source: Getty Images.

The metaverse (defined as interconnected virtual realities) doesn't exist yet. But gaming seems to be a logical first step for the concept. As a video game company, Roblox already relies on computer graphics and programmed virtual experiences. And with 49% of users under the age of 13, its demographics are a massive competitive moat because young people are more willing to socialize within a virtual reality. 

Roblox is already a leader in creating virtual reality experiences. Last year, the platform hosted a virtual performance by rapper Lil Nas X that was attended 33 million times. And in November, it announced a collaboration with apparel company Nike to create Nikeland, a virtual space allowing users to play Nike-themed games and try on products. According to CNBC, Nike is preparing to actually sell products in the metaverse, which could open up revenue opportunities for platforms like Roblox. 

Valued at a price-to-sales multiple of 43, Roblox isn't cheap. But the stock looks worth its premium considering the company's rapid growth rate (third-quarter sales soared 102% to $509 million) and leadership position in virtual reality, which will be the foundation of the metaverse. 

2. Snap

Growth in the metaverse will likely incorporate augmented reality (AR), which is a technology that synergizes real life with computer-generated images. As a leader in augmented reality software, Snap is well-positioned to monetize this exciting growth opportunity.

Analysts at Research and Markets expect the AR opportunity to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 32% to $88 billion by 2026 as e-commerce and other industries incorporate the technology. And while AR is less immersive than VR, it can be built into a more user-accessible segment of the metaverse that doesn't require exiting the real world.

Like Roblox, Snap benefits from its youthful community. The company boasts a 90% penetration rate among 13- to 24-year-olds in established markets like the U.S., U.K., and Australia. And according to CEO Evan Spiegel, Snap is working with such partners as Ralph Lauren and MAC cosmetics to expand its AR shopping experiences, which already include virtually trying on clothing.

Snap's AR business is still in its beginning stages, and management hasn't shed much light on its revenue and profit potential. But the company's early-mover advantage should position it for success as the opportunity expands.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.