Game Changers is a new series from OPEN Forum, spotlighting innovative entrepreneurs who are disrupting their industries or the business world as a whole. Know a Game Changer? Submit tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Name: Frank Meehan
Company: Kuato Studios
What he does: Kuato Studios develops the free mobile application, Hakitzu: Code of the Warrior, in which players use basic Java coding to give a robot commands to fight against other players. While there are a lot of educational games out there for toddlers and early elementary school children, Kuato fills a void with the educational games for those ages 8 to 18. “The game is an innovative way of meshing gaming and education so the kids don’t even realize they are learning,” Meehan says. “In our game, the players get to see what they code in action right away.”
How he got started: When Meehan was working as a venture capitalist, he saw lots of requests from Google and Apple to develop education applications for the tablet market. Most of the applications on the market were either boring to the tween/teen market or just versions of books, so Meehan decided to develop a game that would engage this demographic. “When we talked to moms, they told us that the key to supplementary learning materials is to make the application incorporate both education and game,” Meehan says. He started Kuato Studios a year ago and began working with a host of experienced developers to create Hakitzu.
Why he’s a game changer: “Hakitzu: Code of the Warrior is the first mobile application that successfully combines education and gaming for the teenage market, especially with the coding aspect, which is a fascinating space for older kids and teens,” Meehan says. “Allowing kids to code from a mobile device also frees the kids up to code while on the go. A lot companies have tried to create a product like this, but we are the only ones to be successful. This is one of those exciting spaces where we are really defining it as we go.”
His best advice to other entrepreneurs: Meehan has had the unique experience of sitting on both sides of the table, as an entrepreneur and a venture capitalist. “I suggest that entrepreneurs have several investors in their company when starting out, such as three to four, instead of just one investor. By having multiple investors, you have a balanced spread of experience,” says Meehan. “I also recommend that entrepreneurs strike a balance with investors between creating hype of their company and having realistic expectations. Your goal should always be to exceed the expectations of your investors.”
What’s next: Hakitzu is currently available to the public to download as a prototype. The developers are working to add more features to the application, such as additional coding tutorials and more integration of social media. Additionally, future versions of the game will allow players to play against a computer in single-player mode instead of only with other live players.Jennifer Goforth Gregory is a journalist with over 17 years professional writing experience.