Years in Tampa Bay
2018 Tampa Bay Wave TechDiversity Cohort
Founder of Immersed Games.
What do you do?
At Immersed Games, we've created a next generation STEM learning platform that's a video game. So students can go in and solve all sorts of problems while they learn science. They do things like collect evidence to argue if something is an invasive species, or build their own ecosystem from scratch, or breed dragons to learn about genetics. So we're all about empowering this hands-on science learning through a video game that's super engaging for students.
Why do you do it?
I'm really passionate about science education and especially not just the content - having students actually develop science skills where they can solve their own problems, they can analyze data and think for themselves about it. That's a really critical 21st century skill in general. I came from an education background and I really got passionate about the power of what games could do to help develop these skills for students.
What was your Catalyst? (How did you get started?)
When we first got started I was working on a PhD in education at the University of Florida. And I kind of accidentally came up with a great mental model of how we could use games to power ideal learning. I began recruiting co-founders to come in, found some great people who help with programming and art, and a lot of different really important aspects of developing out the company. We first started with a Kickstarter and a very early prototype, released a first very small product, got the first initial validation of money and kept growing from there, including some small business innovation research grants from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Education.
What’s a common misconception or unknown aspect of what you do?
One thing that drives me a little crazy is that everyone gets really excited about games only as engagement. Games are obviously very engaging for students, but we can use a game to go very, very deep on the learning. It's about problem solving and understanding systems and models, which are really critical skills.
What’s the most challenging part of your Hustle?
Right now we're really focused on going to market and building up what the sales cycle looks like for schools. And the education sales cycle, as you can guess, is not exactly the easiest thing. There's a lot of stakeholders involved. Even if I have the superintendent bought in, I have to go down the pipeline to teachers and make sure everyone is bought in and back up for the budget. It's a complex, long sales cycle and something you have to plan for as a company - to make sure you have enough runway, and your burn rate is low enough that I can take my time and make sure that we hit all of those needs for all of the stakeholders in the system.
What’s the most valuable piece of business advice/insight that’s helped you?
Make sure you get out of the building and talk to people. I came to this as a content expert myself already, with my education background. But that doesn't mean that I know what's going to work in the market or with a variety of teachers with different perspectives, so I'm talking to customers constantly and that's definitely the most valuable thing you can do.