This summer, the Dingman Center will be conducting interviews with the 12 student startups who are participating in our virtual Terp Startup summer accelerator. Participating student entrepreneurs received a stipend up to $5,000 that would enable them to work exclusively on their startups over eight weeks in the summer.
Morning Light Esports
Founder: Harrison Burke ’20
DC: Tell us about your startup. What problem are you solving and for whom?
Burke: Morning Light is an Esports organization focused on bringing a vintage and rustic aesthetic to an industry that is currently filled with companies that are carbon copies of one another. The assumption that everyone interested in Esports wants to see brands that are edgy, neon colored, and filled with intensity, is a massive misconception to me. Everyone wants to champion something whether it’s a band, their university, or a professional team. My ambition is to build an Esports org for people who are bored of the same old thing and give them something to champion.
DC: How did you first come up with your idea?
Burke: I’ve been involved in Esports since 2013 and my obsession with antiques, vintage clothes, and classic rock goes back further than my memory serves me. When I realized that I wanted to run my own Esports organization after having worked in Esports for 2 years, it felt only right to make it harder than I had to for a challenge’s sake. I could create another boring, neon-light-covered, obnoxious brand like everyone else, or I could go a different route and look to create something that hasn’t been done before. It hit me that creating an Esports brand based on vintage and rustic themes would be a way for me to make my work an extension of myself and my identity while bringing something new to the scene.
DC: What are some major milestones you’ve achieved so far?
Burke: My most notable achievements so far would be the fact that I was able to bring in some investment money already, partner with a server provider to give us free servers, and partner with a merch company that has designed and is giving us free jerseys. I’m proud of those three things specifically because they’re each proof that people believe in my ability to make the organization successful. That type of trust means a great deal.
DC: What drives you to keep going?
Burke: It isn’t voluntary — it’s part of my molecular makeup. The combination of not being able to sit still and the fact that I know I won’t be satisfied until neither of my siblings need to work another day in their lives is entirely out of my control. However, I think I’m lucky to have that unrelenting and unintentional drive.
DC: How do you feel about working in a cohort with fellow student entrepreneurs?
Burke: I’m extremely excited about it. In my eyes it is impossible to reach your full capability without sharing your ideas and passions with other people. We all have a responsibility to help one another grow for that very reason, and I don’t just mean within the context of the cohort. I believe you should want to help other people, so to be in a program that is designed based around the idea that we are all going to help one another chase our dreams is a massive privilege that I’m very appreciative of.
DC: What are you hoping to achieve during Terp Startup this summer?
Burke: My hope is to grow our presence enough that by the end of the cohort, I have brought on at the very least one sponsor to move the org towards being self-sufficient post initial funding. Additionally, I hope to bring in sponsors that may have otherwise not been interested in Esports because they couldn’t find a brand that fit their aesthetic. To bring new companies into the Esports scene as sponsors would be incredibly special. Beyond that, I would very much like to know that I helped someone else in the cohort reach their goals. Without that, I wouldn’t feel like I’ve done my part.