Grand Rapids Startup Looks to Disrupt Video Game Industry

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The Grand Rapids-based electronic gaming startup, AirDrop Gaming, is finding early success with its new accessory, HipShotDot. Most recently, Meijer and Target agreed to distribute the video game accessory just in time for the holiday shopping season.

“We’re grateful to Meijer for being our first partner and getting this out,” says Tim Murphy, who co-founded AirDrop Gaming last year. “Now everyone’s trying to get (the HipShotDot) in for the season.”

HipShotDot, which assists a player’s aim in first-person shooting video games, is “like nothing else on the market,” says Murphy. The accessory uses a red LED light that attaches temporarily to a gamer’s screen, serving as a reference point for players.

Building off his background in industrial design and product development, Murphy based the idea for the device on his own gaming experiences. Compatible with Xbox, PS3, Wii U, and other consoles, the product retails for $29.99.

“I first came up with the idea for myself, to outperform other players,” says Murphy, a graduate of Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids. “I’m not the best player in the world, but when I would add the makeshift HipShotDot, I would get in there and devastate. (The idea) just came to me; if I like this so much, it might be able to help other gamers.”

With both past and upcoming launches alongside big names in video games, such as Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty: Ghosts, Murphy expects the HipShotDot to be a financial success. The gaming industry adds $28 million to the Michigan economy each year, according to the Entertainment Software Association.

AirDrop Gaming — which received its initial startup capital from Start Garden, a Grand Rapids based venture fund — is working on other product releases.

“We have three or four more innovations in the pipeline that are just as disruptive to the market,” Murphy says. “The next one is an evolution to the HipShotDot. Others are completely different and like nothing that exists.”

Start Garden, the brainchild of ArtPrize founder Rick DeVos, is a $15 million seed fund that invests is new, for-profit ideas. Investments start at $5,000. “They have been a tremendous partner,” says Murphy. “Without Start Garden, the idea may never have seen a break.”

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