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How to build a gaming empire

November 2, 2021

Network Nirvana creator is Global Entrepreneurship Week speaker

TJ Nissen
TJ Nissen, developer of Network Nirvana.

Removing barriers and welcoming all is the theme for Global Entrepreneurship Week, November 8-14. This observance will be celebrated in 180 countries, with 20,000 partners, 10 million people, and 40,000 activities.

One of those activities is coming up in Madison on November 9, on the Dakota State University campus.

TJ Nissen, a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), will speak about his experience as an entrepreneur at 6:30 p.m., in the Beacom Institute Collaboration Center. His presentation is titled “From bedroom to boardroom: my journey to create a gaming empire.” It will be live-streamed at https://youtu.be/e-nSJZDv6X4.

Nissen is the developer of Network Nirvana, a next-generation video game development company located in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Nissen began designing when he was 10 years old and started his own company to design online games when he was 15 years old. That business developed into Network Nirvana, which Nissen dedicates to bringing the best gaming experiences to online players through a Minecraft-based MMORPG (massively multiplayer role-playing game) called NirvanaOnline.

“At Network Nirvana we strive to imbue NirvanaOnline with the perfect mix between STEM-infused education and massively multiplayer-focused challenges,” said Nissen. “A lot of our design and development work focuses on crafting experiences that help to build players' critical thinking skills and teamwork-based soft skills.”

Nissen developed the company in conjunction with the UNI student business incubator program, “which helped him realize he could do what he loved as his career rather than working for someone else,” said Katherine Cota, Director of Economic Development.

“It is important for students to realize that being an entrepreneur is also a viable career path,” said Cota. “Many students are engaging in entrepreneurial activities without knowing it. TJ’s story illustrates this.”

His experience with the UNI entrepreneurial program helped him determine his customer base. “People attending the presentation will find out who had a need for the games and were willing to pay for users to play the games. This is part of entrepreneurship, finding out your true customer,” Cota stated.

While in Madison, Nissen will also attend the university’s bi-monthly Research Brown Bag event, and an event featuring information about South Dakota Biotech’s FAST Launch, a new entrepreneurial program to help startups in the state. Dakota State is providing the educational component.

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