The final round of the Fourth Annual Kenneth A. Freirich Business Plan Competition was held Friday April 11. The $20,000 first prize went to seniors Walter Barber, Ian Van Nest and Andrew Zimmerman for Leaf Pile Media LLC, a "transmedia fictional universe," to put it in their words.
Their business's next priority will be to market the game, Champions of Hara, that the three freshman year roommates created two years ago, including the development of a promotional video. The prize money will also go to constructing a website to advertise their product and support sales as well as to setting up exhibits at game conventions and also manufacturing the game.
The game takes players on a fantastical journey through a fictional universe called Hara. "Aesthetically, Hara is grounded in everything we've ever loved. It's a hybrid fantasy, drawing in equal parts from ancient mythologies, pop culture, folklore, and everything in between. We've been really influenced by some of today's giants like Adventure Time and Skylanders, but obviously our roots are in franchises like Pok??mon and Harry Potter. Our characters are a little whacky but they all have deep motivations and goals, and I think people are really going to connect with that," Barber said.
The game will sell for $50 and, if popular, will be developed further into other medias.
" Our primary intention behind the board game is to be the first vehicle for telling their story - it is going to be accompanied by graphic novels and a mobile game, all of which serve to build the world and the characters," Barber said.
On what inspired them to create Hara, Barber said, "Hara comes from a mutual love of games and stories. The three of us lived together freshman year and used to pour over comic books together in the window seat and spend hours crowded around a tiny TV playing games when we should have been doing homework. We still play games like Magic whenever we can steal some spare time. As weird as it sounds we really study this stuff; we've been life-long nerds who have always believed we can contribute to the industry."
To keep up to date on the happenings of Hara and its creators, visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/leafpilemedia
The Freirich Business Plan was started four years ago by Freirich, a serial entrepreneur who is now president of Health Monitor Network. In that time span, more than 170 students and 100 businesses have entered the competition.
The second prize of $10,000 was awarded to Alexander Nassief '16 and Zach Rohde '14 for Rum Dogs, Inc., a Dominica-based luxury rum brand that ages its rum in barrels submerged in the Caribbean Sea.
Third prize went to Seth Berger '14 for East Coast Lacrosse, a maker of custom lacrosse apparel. Berger projects sales to reach $200,000 for 2014 as lacrosse continues to expand in popularity across the nation.
Three other teams competed in the final round of the competition and were given $1,000 each. Stella Langat '16 is currently registering Double Dee's LLC in Kenya. Double Dee's LLC will be the nation's first undergarment production company. Adam Beek '15 has launched Munchi Heaven Agri, an organic farming enterprise in Jamaica, and Ezra Levy '15 and Marcella Jewell '15 have started a web-based business called Open Campus, which matches college students with businesses offering real-world projects.
This year's competition was coordinated by Paula Tancredi Penman, lecturer in Management and Business. The other judges in this year's competition were: Nancy Cohen Wekselbaum '73, owner of The Gracious Gourmet; Jody Klein '85, chief executive officer of ABKCO Music & Records, Inc.; Susan Magrino Dunning '83, president of Susan Magrino Agency; Nick MacShane '91, senior managing director of Progress Partners; and Ellen Sherman '68, producer for Dateline NBC.