With 50 hours until the deadline, the clock was ticking.

On June 20, Wristworld, a local entrepreneurial company run by middle and high school students, had two days to raise nearly $2,000 to meet their $22,000 goal for their Kickstarter campaign. If they failed to secure the needed funding by June 22, Kickstarter would return the money to everyone who donated to the campaign.

With less than two days to spare, students managed to secure the $22,000 their campaign needed to provide vital funding for their startup.

Now they have rolled out their product locally.

Katie Sparks, Wristworld team member, said the team was worried they wouldn't reach their campaign goal.

“We were all really stressed and scared we weren't going to make it,” Sparks, an eighth grader, said. “We were starting to try to come up with different things we could do to try to get our funding another way.”

They wouldn't have to, as 149 backers pledged a total of $23,156 to fund the campaign, nearly $1,200 more than they needed.

Carolyn Le, associate director of Loveworks Leadership Inc., said the team couldn't contain their excitement. Loveworks, a local non-profit organization for students ages 11-14, is the group that brought the students together to create the startup.

“It was more than just giving each other high-fives and hollering,” Le said with a laugh. “It was almost unbelievable. I kind of had to take a step back and think, 'is this real life?' It was just a really great experience to see these students reach their goal.”

Wristwatch, which began in the summer of 2018, is centered around a new tech-toy that uses augmented reality technology. The product comes in the form of four wristbands that incorporate smartphone interactivity to create a world of adventure on the users' wrist. All four wristbands represent a piece of the puzzle, and the user must master all four wristbands to win the game.

The Wristworld team is made up entirely of middle school and high school students from Norman and Moore and is divided up into three teams: art, marketing and coding. Loveworks selected the students for the team through an application process where students prepared resumes and were then interviewed by Loveworks staff.

Le said the idea was to do a “Silicon Valley” startup company using local middle school students. The hope was that the project would help students develop problem solving and entrepreneurial skills while also giving them the opportunity to create something of their own.

Ten students were selected, and the students got to work coming up with the idea for the product. With some help from Loveworks staff and mentors from Trifecta Communications, the students built the product, worked out the design and focused on marketing the product.

“These students are at a crucial age where they can be influenced one way or the other, and we wanted to step in and be a positive influence,” Le said. “We wanted to give these kids great opportunities to find out what they're passionate about, and then give them the opportunity to actually do it.”

The Kickstarter campaign funds allowed the company to do several crucial things to roll out their product, including manufacture wristbands and finish coding the first chapter of the game.

Wristworld wristbands are now available at 34 OnCue locations around the OKC metro area.

Recently, Wristworld announced their wristbands will be available at Copelin's Office Center on 425 W. Main St. The two sides announced the rollout of the wristbands during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Copelin's on Tuesday.

Ed Copelin, store owner, expressed his admiration for the Wristworld team during the ceremony.

“When these kids came and presented (their product) to me, I was really impressed,” Copelin said. “This is an outstanding group of kids, and I admire what they've done. I appreciate them for their efforts, and we wish them well with this venture.”

Despite all of their success to this point, the students aren't satisfied yet. They are continuing to push their product in other parts of the country, and are working on smartphone updates to add new levels, characters and other details to the game. The team travelled to the prestigious New York International Toy Fair in February with a prototype, and they plan to make the trip to next year's fair to present the full product to potential investors.

Harrison Gilman, Wristworld team member, said they have no plans of slowing down.

“I'm on the 3-D modeling team, so I'm making new models right now,”Gilman said. “We hope to update our game and do Wristworld events that people can go to. That way we can promote the game even more and do other updates.”

As the group of students continue on their entrepreneurial adventure, they continue to dream big and put in hard work. Le said it's a testament to what students of all ages can do.

“It's been so encouraging. This is truly the goal of Loveworks and what we're all about,” Le said. “We hope our kids connect to something and run with it. (We tell them) don't wait until the age people think you have to be to do big things like this. You don't have to wait just because you're in middle school. Instead of underestimating these middle school students, let's see what they can do.”

For more information on Wristworld, visit www.wrist.world. To learn more about Loveworks, visit loveworksleadership.org.

Jesse Crittenden

366-3540

Follow me @jcritt31

jcrittenden@normantranscript.com.

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