A profile on Wrist World written for the Oklahoma Venture Forum on the subject of Leveling Up Talented Kids.
Having celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2021, Loveworks Leadership helps middle school students develop personal character, install leadership, and learn entrepreneurship skills. While attending Lovework’s summer camp program, Brent Wheelbarger and his daughter, Emma, learned about Lovework’s first student-started business, Real Kitchen Salsa.
“With Brent’s expertise in augmented reality and technology, he came to Loveworks and presented this idea of what if we did a Silicon Valley-style startup with middle school students,” said Carolyn Le, Associate Director of Loveworks. “From there, we presented it at one of our summer camps, the opportunity to join a Silicon Valley-style startup, where we’re going to create some sort of maybe video game, some sort of technology using this technology for kids.”
Students submitted a resume, went through an interview process, and then ten students were selected to be part of the team, said Le. This team in 2018 created Wrist World.
“Wrist World is an augmented reality video game that uses four slap bands, and each of them are different worlds that you can play here and explore,” said Arya Ramineedi, part of the 3D modeling Team. “You can scan the different bands with your App, and the game will pop up. There are two modes to play. There’s game mode and wrist mode. In game mode, you can explore through any four bands, collect items, and fight enemies. And in wrist mode, you can show off your character in 3D on your wrist.”
With a rough start with makeshift wristbands and buggy software, Wrist World has evolved over time, getting their products in stores such as OnCue and Loves, and in 2020, officially licensed its first character, Hatsune Miku.
“To give you an idea of kind of who Miku is as the character, she’s a Vocaloid character, and she’s almost like a hologram who does performances on stage and thousands of people will go and watch her just perform,” said Emma Wheelbarger, Chief Marketing Officer of Wrist World. “Miku did a big expo that was online because of COVID, and we got to run an ad during that campaign, and our ad took off, and thousands of fans were super excited to see it and just hopped right on board to the Wrist World fan base.”
Brad Sparks, part of the marketing team, added they are developing new bands with different characters but weren’t allowed to divulge any further information.
Brent Wheelbarger, founder and CEO of Trifecta Communications, thinks Wrist World is an example of the Ted Lasso Effect, the idea that you don’t necessarily have to be a complete expert and know all the answers to go out and try something.
“None of us knew anything about the toy industry or this whole realm that we were going into, and yet we put ourselves out there, and the team put themselves out there,” said Brent Wheelbarger. “We’re willing to stumble, try, fix, improve, get better, learn and in a way almost stumbled their way to a successful outcome because we could never have dreamed when we first started that we would be making deals with Japanese companies to license their characters on these bands and selling all over the world.”
The Wrist World team will be presenting at the Oklahoma Venture Forum Power Lunch on Wednesday, February 9, 2022. The event will be open to guests both in-person and virtually via ZOOM.
“I think that being here in Oklahoma and part of this community has been a huge help to our company,” said Katie Sparks. “Just the fact that we live in a place that’s so supportive like alone, but especially when it comes to business and when it comes to kids trying to do something that’s never been done before.”