Jed Merrill, Producer/Game Designer

Graduation!

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Tuesday, May 3, 2016.

It’s graduation week!

Some of us have final exams this week, but my classes do not, so I am officially done with EAE.  AJ invited us all to the official EAE Alumni Facebook group today, something I was given early access to so I could promote our Imagine Cup entry for the People’s Choice award in late March.

Without classes to attend, I have been focusing on what is next.

B.E.S.T. is a big part of the future, so I have some fundraising to do.

B.E.S.T. Police Training, LLC will officially be managed by my company Domain Management, LLC while I set up a game studio.  There is a premium domain name I am working to buy for the studio, which I will publish here once I finish the purchase.  I’ve had my eye on the name since before I started EAE, and definitely think the branding will be worth it, even if the price seems high.

0_5I am also tentatively buying an established drone cinematography company with enough cashflow to allow me to pay for that domain name.  To prepare, I am taking two online courses in drone cinematography and have so far bought two drones, a sub-$100 Blade Nano QX that I can crash a lot while learning and a Phantom 4 that I prefer to keep intact.

ALTA_006-Edit-Edit_1024x1024When I finish the company acquisition, probably in the next 30 days, I will also have an Alta Freefly, which can do professional level cinematography, and an FAA exemption that is tough to get.

I may also get a pilot’s license this summer, either a helicopter, fixed wing or hot air balloon, so I don’t have to hire an on set pilot every time I film commercially.  Right now I am thinking hot air balloon, which can be done in a week to six weeks, but I would like a helicopter license eventually.  I started the training once and the TRAINER crashed the Robinson R-22 training helicopter on my first flight!  I survived.  The bottom of the helicopter did not.

In two or three days of filming a month for a fixed period of time, I should be able to cover the domain name payment the seller agrees to.  If we need to fly more, I have two professional cinematographers who will fly for me.

The structure of my operations will therefore be something like this:

A Movie Studio – Including the drone cinematography company and elements of my former operations with HFI.

A Game Studio – Including management of B.E.S.T., development of new IP, and any other medium to large contracts that come along.  (I have one on the way and a second likely, if I have time.)

I’ve said enough for now.  I will update this post with the domain names once I own the game studio name and have a website ready.

In other news, we did get our World Semifinals video and build in to Microsoft ahead of schedule, and should hear back in the first week of June about World Finals, which will be sometime in July.  I am also scheduled to attend the Royal Business Academy in Prague from July 11 to August 5, which may overlap, so I may fly to Seattle sometime during the program for a week.  With the drone cinematography company acquisition, I am thinking I will focus at least half of my time there on developing a really strong and validated business plan for the company, the other half on B.E.S.T. and the game studio.  I will then follow that up with the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, if I am accepted.

Until July, I will focus on:

  1. Raising capital for B.E.S.T. so we can keep the team together, add to it, and actually save lives.  We may also apply to accelerators like ViveX, YCombinator, StartX, Rothenberg River, and Tech Crunch, though I prefer a straight capital raise so we can focus on the work that needs to be done.
  2. Go through the TVC‘s canvas program structure, which mostly includes talking to future customers and gaining further validation for our project and putting together a features wishlist from those who will use it nationwide and possibly worldwide.
  3. Otherwise prepare for Imagine Cup World Finals.
  4. Consider additional clients and projects for the game studio, including one mentioned by the Attorney General’s representative.  Being one of the only studios to have early access to the Microsoft Hololens and with experience developing for The Void will be an advantage.  So will graduating from 2015’s #1 ranked Game Design program, being the National Winner of the Microsoft Imagine Cup, and winning a total of nine first place and design awards since October.
  5. Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 6.10.50 PMGather a steady stream of clients for the drone cinematography company, which may be easier than for a startup because past clients of the company include name brands like Ford, Papa John’s, and Red Bull.  If this starts to take more than a few days a month, I will have my professional pilots do most if not all of the actual shooting and focus on the business side.  I told the seller I am interested in the purchase if it helps me accomplish my other goals rather than becoming my goal.  We are structuring the deal with that in mind.
  6. Spend time with family, something that has always been a top priority for me.

I will also keep my eyes and ears open for other opportunities that help me reach my ambitious business, financial, social, and family goals.

Update:  We get a request for information on B.E.S.T. from another country that is updating their police training systems!  I will meet tomorrow with a trade consultant from the Utah World Trade Center about how best to handle international transactions.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 6.34.01 PMThursday, May 5, 2016.

Commencement, 6:30 pm at the Jon Huntsman Event Center.

Friday, May 6, 2016.

Graduation Breakfast, 8:30 am at the EAE North Lab in the Merrill Engineering Building.

Graduation Ceremony, College of Engineering, 11:30 am at the Jon Huntsman Event Center.

Saturday, May 7, 2016.

After EAE.

End Credits

This blog and my best-in-nation education would not have been possible without the following EAE People (thesis team members) and EAE Faculty. 🙂

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Pictured:  Five of my EAE professors:   Jose Zagal, Bob Kessler, Brian Salisbury, Mark van Langeveld, and Ryan Bown.  Not pictured:  Roger Alitzer, Corrinne Lewis, Joe Bourrie, Matt Anderson, Amy Adkins, Craig Caldwell, Dave Wolinsky, Jeff Nielsen.

Me and my first game design professor, Stan Merrill, my dad. (Taught computer science at Yale, including basic game design.)

Me and my first game design professor, Stan Merrill, my dad.  (Taught computer science at Yale, including basic game design, and created the first “edutainment” game around 1980.)

The End?

Not quite!  This Hero’s Journey may continue in July at the Imagine Cup World Finals in Seattle!  (We won the National Finals.)  We should find out the first week of June.

You can also follow my past and future adventures on LinkedIn.  Maybe sometime we can play and win together?