Star player Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2007

Brad Wardell was halfway through college when he began running out of money and realized he had to do something fast if he wanted to stay.

So Wardell, who’d been interested in computers since he was a boy, began building customized computers. And he also decided to design a computer game, “Galactic Civilizations,” which he hoped to sell for a few dollars here and there.

The idea was such a success that not only was he able to afford tuition, he also attracted the attention of IBM, which called to say it was interested in his game and in contracting work to him, and Stardock Corp. was formed.

After Wardell graduated from college, he got the good job he’d always wanted, but it wasn’t enough, and he left to take a chance on Stardock. At first, business was great, and by 1996, he had six employees. But the next year, when people began switching from IBM’s OS/2 operating system to Microsoft Windows, revenue dropped. With no venture capital and no other option for cash, Wardell took out a loan and began to create a new game for Windows — “Entrepreneur” — to generate sales. The game sold 100,000 copies, and the company’s switch to designing for Windows was under way.

Today, Stardock is a major player in both the PC gaming and customizations software industries. It recently released “Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar,” the No. 1 strategy game on the market.

The company employs nearly 50 people in four countries, and Wardell is projecting phenomenal growth for 2007, capitalizing on partnerships with GM, the NHL and colleges across the country.

HOW TO REACH: Stardock Corp., (734) 927-0677 or www.stardock.com