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University students win big in Spark Centre entrepreneurial competition

Fourth-year Game Development and Entrepreneurship team captures Ignite 2017 award

Ominous Games wins Spark Centre's Ignite 2017 Student Entrepreneur competition. From left: Jeff Quipp, Founder and CEO, Search Engine People;  Samantha Stahlke, Ominous Games (OG); Sherry Colbourne, CEO, Spark Centre; Josh Bellyk, OG; Owen Meier, OG (image by: Trinity Design Photography).
Ominous Games wins Spark Centre's Ignite 2017 Student Entrepreneur competition. From left: Jeff Quipp, Founder and CEO, Search Engine People; Samantha Stahlke, Ominous Games (OG); Sherry Colbourne, CEO, Spark Centre; Josh Bellyk, OG; Owen Meier, OG (image by: Trinity Design Photography).

Since meeting in their first year at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in 2014, Game Development and Entrepreneurship students Josh Bellyk, Owen Meier and Samantha Stahlke felt they had a connection.

While teaming up on various academic projects early in their program, Bellyk, Meier and Stahlke discovered an entrepreneurial chemistry as they developed new ideas for video games. It wasn’t long before they had founded their own Whitby, Ontario-based start-up, Ominous Games.

“Each of us contributes a crucial aspect in bringing a new game to life,” explains Stahlke. “Owen is the ideas guy and knows what needs to be done to get things started. Josh is our artist and I am the programmer.”

Ominous Games has already produced video game prototypes and introduced them at contests and conferences. Stahlke describes their newest creation as a 3D puzzle platforming game.

Their collective success has garnered plenty of recognition, including awards in the local community. Their most recent success was at Ignite 2017, a Spark Centre competition that shines the spotlight on local entrepreneurs and innovators. Ominous Games won Ignite’s Student Entrepreneur category. Eager to promote their product and expand their brand, the startup will use the $5,000 prize money to participate in PAX East, an influential U.S showcase in Boston, Massachusetts.

“Without the Ignite award, we wouldn’t have been able to make it to PAX East,” says Stahlke, “This conference will give us the opportunity to expand our reach to thousands of potential new channels and gain vital international exposure.”

The students credit their undergraduate experience within the university’s Faculty of Business and Information Technology for helping them prepare for the challenges of working in the industry,

“It all started with our supportive professors,” says Stahlke. “The best thing about the Game Development and Entrepreneurship program is it allows you choose your own specialization. You can work with many different people and skill sets, discover what you are passionate about and connect with people who can help that development. This helps you carve out your own niche in the industry.”

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