Webster Alumnus Uses Crowdsourcing for Funding

Jul. 24, 2013

Webster Alumnus Uses Crowdsourcing for Funding

ST. LOUIS, July 24, 2013 – Since the age of 12, Webster University alumnus Jeff Minnis '06, Computer Science,  has been an independent entrepreneur. He started his company, Jeff Computers, with money he'd saved from working on computers for family and friends. Since then, it's grown to a 1,500 square-foot-office with eight full-time employees.

In high school, he developed StudyX, a learning software program that helped him study since his Asperger's syndrome made it difficult to focus and learn. Before graduating from Webster, he was able to sell more than 100 copies per month of StudyX through his website. In 2012, he formed Plazsoft, a software development company that handles StudyX and his newest venture, Yargis, a space-themed video game.

While he used traditional funding for his other business ventures, for Yargis he turned to Kickstarter, a website that allows users to post projects and receive funds from the public.

“It gives us a unique opportunity to raise funds as well as help us spread the word and connect with our players,” said Minnis. “This allows us to be self-published. We're able to do what we want with the game and we don't have a publisher telling us what to do. It's up to us and the users.”

In Yargis, players create spaceships and fight in missions helping the main character, Yargis, defend earth. As playersYargis titlescreenovercome challenges and advance to higher levels, they can unlock weapons and spaceship upgrades. Yargis also allows players to create their own custom game using the same level editor that was used to create the game. Users can drag and drop features such as planets and ships to customize the game and create unique adventures.

In just two weeks the Yargis kickstarter page raised more than $10,000 allowing Minnis to release Yargis as both a downloadable game and a boxed CD. Additional funds coming in will help Minnis and his team add more graphics and features to Yargis before the beta version is released this fall.

In addition to raising funds, Kickstarter has helped Minnis spread the word about the game.

“We have backers from all over the world, funds have come from right here in St. Louis and also Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. We even have a backer from Austria.”

While the interest has come from around the world, the game is entirely made in St. Louis with the graphics, programming, marketing and even an original soundtrack all developed with local talent.

Isaac Brodsky, a Computer Science major at Webster, is on the Yargis team.

“Most of what I do is designing systems and programming,” Brodsky said. “I recently worked on an issue where we needed our game to be able to find other computers and after doing some research, I found a solution that's working well. It was satisfying to find, demonstrate and build a solution.”

Although there is a small team of people working on Yargis, Minnis has big plans for the game.

“We think Yargis offers the action, creativity and fun to be considered for the Indie Space Game of the Year [an award given by the Independent Games Festival],” Minnis said.

With the $10,000 Kickstarter money, the beta launch of Yargis should happen in a few months. To pre-order the game, visit the Yargis website. For more information about Webster's computer science program, visit the department's website