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Horror video game and boat 'check ups': UWF students launching companies with help from new incubator

PNJ.com (Pensacola) logo PNJ.com (Pensacola) 2/27/2020 Madison Arnold, Pensacola News Journal

From handmade journals and a horror video game to a boat maintenance support and education company, students at the University of West Florida are working to develop their own companies. 

They and others like them will get support from the university's new Commons Entrepreneurship Incubator, which was unveiled during a ceremony Wednesday. The new program will provide office and meeting space, consulting and a place to showcase products.

Formed Stationery launches

Plenty of people never write in their journals, or at least not beyond just a few pages, but Verniyah Oliphant, a 20-year-old junior in economics at UWF, said that's alright with her.

Her handmade journals from recycled paper, especially the custom wedding journals with printed vows and wedding photos on the pages, are works of art themselves. Oliphant just began selling her products three weeks ago after a long history of developing "side hustles."

"Now I've kind of built it into a real business," Oliphant said. "Right now, we do have an Instagram which is trying to be built up, but it's also really hard when you're a student, you're working, you're interning ... trying to build expertise in so many different areas and your house is just filled with journal making."

Oliphant said her products start at $40 for a smaller journal and $50 for a larger one. She said those interested can contact the company through its Instagram, formedstationery

Blink goes to PensaCon

One day, David Franklin, a 24-year-old student at UWF working toward a master's degree in business administration, hopes to turn his current work at the university into a career by establishing a video game development studio in the area.

Franklin is working with a partner to launch a new horror video game, called Blink, which they will present at Pensacon this week. They've been developing the first-person game over the last two to three years.

"We want to use this to build a studio," Franklin said, adding that he's unaware of any major studios in the area. "What we're pushing for is the first game development studio pretty much not only in Pensacola, but this region."

The concept behind the game is that a player is experiencing a horror story first-hand. The idea began as a hobby after Franklin and a friend tried to start a YouTube gaming channel that didn't take off.

Franklin said he is pushing to launch the game before the end of the year but said there's no set timeline. For those interested in the game, Franklin suggested watching the trailer at abandonedhousestudios.com.

Applying health care to boats

While Eric Kennedy, a 28-year-old senior, plans to pursue his major of nursing after graduation, he's still developing a company that will both support and educate boat owners.

Kennedy is still in the development phase and his company has yet to be named, but he hopes to take the processes seen in industries like health care and bring it to trade skill professions, like boat mechanics.

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The company would essentially give boats regular "check ups," like a person might receive each year from their doctor. Eventually, Kennedy imagines an online platform for boat owners to communicate with the company, approve work on their boats or see their progress.

"It gives (boat owners) the confidence that when they leave work Friday at 5 o'clock that they can jump on their boat and go to Fort McRee," Kennedy said. "And two, it also lets them feel confident that their boat's going to be as safe as it can be for their family."

Once the company gets started, Kennedy, who previously worked on boats before going back to school, said he hopes to reinvest back in community education and workshops. He said for those interested in the company to follow along with the UWF Center for Entrepreneurship.

Madison Arnold can be reached at marnold@pnj.com and 850-435-8522.

This article originally appeared on Pensacola News Journal: Horror video game and boat 'check ups': UWF students launching companies with help from new incubator

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