Catholic High Senior Seeks Startup Success with Overwatch

by Mark Carter  on Monday, Nov. 4, 2013 12:00 am  

Josh Moody of Overwatch

The night before Josh Moody pitched his startup, Overwatch, at the 2013 ARK Challenge Demo Day in September, he did his trigonometry and calculus homework.

Josh, after all, is a 17-year-old senior at Little Rock’s Catholic High School. His immersion in the realm of entrepreneurship and business accelerators, of course, has been a little unorthodox. But so far, it’s been a successful dip.

Josh got that homework done and the next day led his team to a win in the ARK Challenge startup boot camp in Fayetteville, where he competed against seasoned entrepreneurs from all over the world. The win earned $150,000 for Overwatch, an app that aims to bring users’ combat gaming skills into the real world through paintball, laser tag and airsoft games courtesy of live GPS radar, voice chat and other features. Think “Call of Duty” for real life, only no one dies.

The Overwatch experience comes with the iPhone- and Android-compatible app plus hardware including universal mount styles to hold a user’s smartphone in place on the arm and gun while playing paintball, laser tag or airsoft games.

To take Overwatch from idea to reality, Josh and his parents Gwen and David Moody relocated to northwest Arkansas for three months over the summer to participate in the ARK Challenge, after Josh worked out a deal with Catholic High to begin his senior year remotely.

At the ARK Challenge, which ran from June into September, he underwent a grinding 17-hour-a-day schedule that included meetings, planning sessions and development of the app. Once school started, he maintained his schoolwork and took tests during breaks from work. 

The concept for Overwatch was hatched by Josh when he was 15 and became a reality when his dad, a startup consultant, introduced him to Joe Saumweber and Michael Paladino (himself a Catholic High grad) of Bentonville software development startup RevUnit

As president of a battery technology startup launched in Fayetteville, David had spent lots of time in the area and became ingrained in the growing northwest Arkansas startup ecosystem. Ultimately, he was named an ARK Challenge mentor. He ran Josh’s idea by Saumweber and Paladino, former developers at Rockfish Interactive, who agreed to hear Josh pitch his idea.

“They agreed to look at Joshua’s gaming concept and Joshua sent them the product plan, features and mockups he had developed completely on his own,” David Moody said. 

Saumweber admits he didn’t expect much from the initial meeting.

“The minute we tell anyone we’re an app development company, among other things, the next words that follow are almost always, ‘Oh, I had this idea for an app the other day,’” Saumweber said. “So we hear a lot of ideas, and we could never have the time and energy to pursue them all. When we first sat down with Josh Moody, I’ll be honest, it was a courtesy visit because we have a lot of respect for his father. But about 10 minutes into that dinner table conversation, Michael and I were exchanging excited looks, and we started to catch the vision.”

That vision led them to establish a formal company called Innovis Labs with Josh as CEO (and whose age required lots of extra paperwork) and apply for the ARK, where David mentored other teams but not the Overwatch team. Both Overwatch and RevUnit are client firms of Innovate Arkansas.



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