How I Got Started | Athos
It all started with Minecraft actually. I was 14. I had played Minecraft for a couple years at the time, but upon finding the custom servers I discovered the seemingly limitless potential the game had. I made close friends through the community, and after many late night talks we decided we could do better than the games we were playing – so we made our own custom RPG server. We named it Athos. The goal was to see how far we could push the limits of the game. I served as the President, overseeing operations and execution on a day-to-day basis.
Our team grew to 40 people, consisting mostly of volunteer players. Writers created books of lore and built the concepts behind the world. We commissioned a professional world painter to canvas out the topography for our custom map. Artists drafted concept art, full texture packs, and skins to modify the appearance of all in-game assets. The build team used all these assets to fill the world with villages, towns, and ruins all following architectural styles true to the races that inhabited the world. Finally, our tech team developed custom plugins to drastically customize the game’s mechanics.
At this point, we essentially built an entire game using Minecraft as only the basic backdrop. So we decided to take a stab at building the full game on our own. As time went on, Athos grew into us creating a full game studio, which we were able to sell for several thousand dollars.
Learning Marketing | Display Sales
After working on Athos for just under two years, I was able to go to community college instead of high school, so I finished my last two years of high school at Normandale. I decided to take night classes there so I could work during the day, and I was offered a warehouse position at a small street decor business called Display Sales.
My role grew from warehouse associate to blog writer and eventually evolved to creating and leading the marketing department. We developed a completely new custom e-commerce site, grew our monthly ad budget significantly, and ended up doubling online web sales in one year.
Creating a Community | The Hive
My coworkers and peers at night classes were mostly all my parents’ age, and I grew out-of-touch with classmates in high school. I felt a lack of social belonging, so I built an online community called The Hive. It has slowly grown from my network of past collaborators to a global group of friends.
Starting University | Parfaitt
I lived in the Startup Learning Community my first year at UW-Madison. The community offered generous resources to help me pursue my own venture, so I quickly found cofounders and started ideation. What we settled on was trying to build a bridge to the future of work. We decided virtual office spaces were the best solution to overcome the challenges of being on a remote team (which I encountered during my time building Athos).
We reached out to UW alumni working on remote teams and asked them about their experience to validate our assumptions. As we validated that there was indeed a market for our solution, we got to work building the remote work communication software named Parfaitt.
Over the next year, we crafted a semi-functional MVP and built a pitch deck. While we won a few thousand in awards, the most valuable result of the endeavor was learning that market maturity increases time to market. Given enterprise software is a highly mature market, the opportunity cost for us to develop Parfaitt just didn’t make sense. We collectively decided to set the project down.
Current Projects | Innovators Coalition, Omen
During my time at Startup Learning Community, I also met Nathan Eggenberger, the Program Assistant and Student Entrepreneur in Residence there. We got along well, and quickly decided to work together. The first thing we built was Inc, a project that remains very dear to both of us. While we sure did try, we realized that a student org wasn’t going to pay the bills post-graduation.
We started a small consulting business doing web development, marketing, and strategic planning. It was around that time that I first pitched the idea of Omen to Nathan. He was shocked. He showed me dozens of notes and drawings, some created years prior, that seemed identical to what I had described. It’s difficult to describe the magic of the moment. It felt as though we’d found our path. It was an early commitment to a life’s work, but there is no greater cause I’d prefer to dedicate my life to.
Thanks for reading,