Joe Hudicka may be an executive for one successful business and the co-founder of another, but well into adulthood, he never considered himself creative.
“Until recently, I understood creativity as art classes in school, which honestly, I didn’t do well in,” said Hudicka, the managing director for supply and logistics app Neurored. “Trying to draw a smiley face was difficult for me.”
However, his newest venture—a disruptive education startup called Fizzee Labs---is built around the premise of helping everyone find the value in their creativity.
That’s why the company’s co-founders are his wife Lora Hudicka and his two children.
Joey, 16, and Heidi, 11, laid the foundation for the company when they were even younger through their mix of learning while having fun. Hudicka coined the concept as “Productive Play,” which he considers the genesis for Fizzee Labs.
The first example came when Joey, as a five-year-old, began inventing board games based on his favorite games: tic-tac-toe, checkers and ice hockey. When the iPhone came out, they turned his game, dubbed “Puckz,” into an app that was downloaded in over 60 countries.
The trio officially launched the company in 2015, but things began picking up steam within the past year. Now, Fizzee Labs has developed an array of learning games, resources, tools and events designed for all demographics, from elementary schools to the college and corporate levels.
“The most tangible result of using our products is a clear understanding of the potential value in your creativity,” Hudicka said. “It’s about connecting those creative thoughts and problem solving skills to topics that we love and are passionate about.”
Hudicka believes that when those two align, people differentiate themselves.
In terms of profits, the venture is monetized through the learning resources it provides and the events it holds.
“It’s a combination of board games and live interactive experiences,” Hudicka said.
One game, called “Launch!,” gives players $2 million in seed money and lets them build their own startup. Another tool is the Innovation Accelerator’s Caboodle of Terminology, a list of 1,400 crucial terms that every entrepreneur needs to know.
Hudicka said as of now, the main clientele are parents, educators and professionals looking for disruptive learning opportunities, but their team makes sure that everything they produce appeals to all ages.
With their early success, Fizzee Labs has teamed up with some high-profile partners, including Hudicka’s alma mater, Rider University, and NASA.
The partnership with NASA started when Joey and Heidi delivered a presentation of a learning concept they were developing. The idea instantly resonated with the agency, which was eager to reach a wider and more diverse array of young people.
“We lose the opportunity to attract creative and entrepreneurial people because there’s a message in the world that NASA equals technology and engineering, but it’s so much bigger than that,” Hudicka said.
The confluence seems like a match made in heaven, with both sides determined to show that creativity encompasses more than a paintbrush and easel. Hudicka discovered his creativity in the enterprise custom software space, and now he and his children are helping others find their own.