Six months to a better startup

A company, a game, and a score of Broncos

Six months to a better startup
Kymera Keeper: Screen shot from the game. Courtesy Red Seraphim
A company, a game, and a score of Broncos

What did recent graduate Natasha Wallace ’10 want to do with her degree in English and studio art? Write? Teach? Paint? How about co-found a company producing games playable on any platform?

Thanks in part to an innovative Leavey School of Business initiative called the California Program for Entrepreneurship (CAPE), Wallace got the chance to study six months with top B-school faculty, developing a business plan, learning from a mentor, and seeing what really works at Silicon Valley companies.

Her company, Red Seraphim, now runs a game called Kymera Keeper—with Wallace as art director. Company co-founders include another pair of Broncos: current MBA student Josh Chan and finance specialist Dyuman Bhatt MBA ’11. And more than 20 Santa Clara students and grads have been involved in helping Red Seraphim take flight.

Currently Kymera Keeper is in beta on Facebook. The game’s Droid and iOS versions are designed for easy switching from phone to laptop to seamlessly pick up where you left off. Last year, Wallace won first place in CAPE’s business pitch competition in the Internet and Mobile Apps category for her startup’s agility and forward thinking.

The CAPE program offers an academic boost to emerging entrepreneurs itching to make their startup companies competitive. Seat-of-the-pants startups benefit from some solid fundamentals in marketing, finance, operations, strategic management, and communication. Participants develop and implement business plans, drawing on the skills of their mentors. CAPE’s motto is “Helping California one entrepreneur at a time.” Targeted efforts can use the “Silicon Valley ecosystem” to benefit the state as a whole.

Given the territory that Wallace has staked out, she’s also hoping to see some transformation of gaming environs. In an interview with wowElle, a site for professional and enterprising women, Wallace decried the “click and collect” social gaming model now in vogue. “Players begin playing a popular Facebook game because the initial interactions are fun, but eventually quit because the gameplay disintegrates into a mindless grind,” she says. “Our goal is an emphasis on strategy and meaningful interactions between friends through player-versus-player battles.” She also has a goal of building a strong company; that’s what brings her back to campus talking to art classes and recruiting interns at SCU job fairs.

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