Guitar Hero Game Developers Visit Entrepreneurship Academy

Thursday, July 16, 2009

University of Iowa News Release

Students at this year's Jacobson Entrepreneurship Academy did some head banging as they learned about building their own businesses on Wednesday.

Jeremy Andersen and Isaac Burns, two UI alums who went on to co-found Budcat Creations, visited the academy at the Tippie College of Business to talk about how they built their Iowa City-based video game design company. Budcat's games include Blastworks, Psychonauts and the New York Times Crossword Puzzle.

But for the 28 kids at the camp, the coolest by far was their titles for the Guitar Hero series. Among others, Budcat programs the Metallica, Aerosmith, World Tour and Legends of Rock games for Guitar Hero.

The two met with students who are participating in the Jacobson Entrepreneurship Academy. The academy is an annual week-long summer program that helps junior high and middle school students from the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids area learn about starting their own businesses and gives them the opportunity to raise seed money. The academy is a program of the Jacobson Institute for Youth Entrepreneurship.

Andersen and Burns started the company with Andersen's brother Jason in Las Vegas in 2000 and moved it to Iowa City shortly afterward. The company now has 70 employees. Anderson told the 28 students in the academy that they developed such a solid reputation as game designers that Activision, the world's largest video game company, bought their firm last year.

Andersen told the students that focus and determination are important parts of starting a business and keeping it growing, along with a passion for what they do. Andersen and Burns said they both spent hours playing video games as kids, so it made sense that they would start a gaming business.

But Andersen said their parents also made sure they got good grades at school and had other responsibilities, too, so they had skills beyond video games. Eventually, both of them graduated from the University of Iowa in 1996, Andersen with a marketing degree and Burns with a mechanical engineering degree.

The day concluded with video game giveaways, a Guitar Hero Metallica concert and a line of students seeking Andersen's and Burns' autographs. Video highlights of the concert can be seen here: http://tippie.uiowa.edu/news/media/guitar-hero.mov.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010 (office), 319-541-8434 (cell), tom-snee@uiowa.edu