Story written by Briagenn Adams
HvZ in Athens
Daniel Williams struck gold at the Ohio University Innovation Center’s Startup Weekend in October when he joined forces with three promising businessmen: Gary Grant, Christian “Rico” Sagardia and Jim Bruggeman. Gary, Rico and Jim came to the Innovation Center that weekend with a developed business idea. Their concept – Daniel said – was a foam dart blaster suited for adults to be used in the increasingly popular, Humans Versus Zombies (HvZ) game phenomenon. It didn’t take much convincing before Daniel was on board with their plan, and the Better Blaster Bureau team was born.
“Existing blasters are great for children, but they are underpowered for adults and difficult to upgrade,” Daniel said. “Our blasters will set the bar for performance and enhancement, so that our customers will always have a competitive advantage.”
Three of the seven Better Blaster Bureau team members are long-time participants of HvZ. HvZ is a group of mostly college students and young adults who use foam dart blasters in themed events. “HvZ is sort of like bringing a video game to life or acting out a zombie apocalypse,” Daniel said.
Gary and Christian of Better Blaster Bureau saw a growing trend among HvZ players: upgrading Nerf® brand guns to be used in “combat.” Just like in real wars, the quality of the weapons matters. By modifying over-the-shelf blasters, users can greatly increase the power and usability of the blasters.
“HvZ isn’t limited to Athens,” Daniel said. “With groups like HvZ at more than 600 college campuses in the U.S. and new Nerf® modification tutorials being posted daily, we saw the opportunity to make something better.”
In addition to Daniel, Gary, Rico and Jim, Jordan Borowski, Matt Forsythe and Jake Mobilian form Better Blaster Bureau’s entire team.
Because Better Blaster Bureau won the second place prize for Startup Weekend Athens, the Innovation Center offered them a six-month stay and access to all incubation resources. “I look forward to using the Innovation Center as home base as we develop and release our first product,” Daniel said. “The Innovation Center’s guidance will strengthen both our business model and internal operations so that we stand a better chance of making this company a success.”
In 2014, Better Blaster Bureau will build prototypes, reach out to potential customers, raise funds for manufacturing and hopefully begin to sell their products.
Above all, when Humans Versus Zombies starts up in the fall, Better Blasters Bureau would love to see people wielding their blasters to hold back the zombie hordes.