Birthdays are exciting for children, but sophomore entrepreneurs Jesse Stone and Mariann Kukielka developed a business plan that helps kids feel super beyond just one special day.
The pair is developing Superhero Simulation Service, a birthday party service that adds initiative exercises to the celebration. They said that the superhero-themed party will focus on helping attendees realize the importance of morals and become true superheroes.
“The Superhero Simulation Service is stress-free for parents but still provides a unique birthday experience for kids and teaches them lessons that they can carry throughout life,” Kukielka said. “We hope to teach them that.”
Although the concept earned second place in the Fowler Business Challenge undergraduate competition and the best presenters award, the idea actually started as a joke.
“We had a completely different idea, but our adviser shot it down,” Stone said. “So, while we were making jewelry for another entrepreneurship project, I started messing around and shouted out that we needed some sort of ‘Superhero Simulation Service.’ I was laughing and didn’t take it seriously.”
Kukielka said the name grabbed her attention.
“We didn’t know what it was at that point,” Kukielka said, “but then we spent hours brainstorming,” Kukielka said.
The Superhero Simulation Service was developed two weeks before the prestigious challenge, where other presentations had been developed for almost a year.
“It was pretty intimidating,” Kulielka said. “Everyone else in the undergraduate competition were juniors and seniors who were in 300- and 400-level entrepreneur classes, and we’re just barely through our first one.”
Stone and Kukielka said organizing the idea after the initial concept would have been hard without their mentor and 2012 St. Thomas alumna BreAnna Fisher, who created her business Go Do.
Fisher said she was amazed by Stone and Kukielka’s motivation because they would visit her office everyday at 6 a.m. during those two weeks.
“The timing was perfect. My 4-year-old daughter happened to want a superhero party … and it was difficult putting it together. So when they came in, I thought it was a great plan and suggested that they started looking at competition,” Fisher said.
Because Fisher is familiar with the success of easy-accessible businesses, she suggested that Kukielka and Stone add a mobile aspect to their business as well.
“I encouraged them to make it mobile because the execution would work better,” Fisher said.
Stone and Kukielka hope to begin birthday services as early as next summer, but the duo could start advertising earlier with the help of investors. The partners said the Fowler Business Challenge helped them network.
For an hour and a half party, it will cost $275 which includes activities, cupcakes and beverages for 10 kids. It will focus on ages 4-12 and will adapt activities to the age group of the host party.
“We still need to hash out some of the details,” Stone said. “All of the money from the competition is scholarship, so we can’t invest it. Once we figure a few more things out, we’ll be ready to go with our parties.”
Anastasia Straley can be reached at email@example.com.