Genius Games: A circuitous route to entrepreneurship

WashU alum John Coveyou’s route to entrepreneurship was circuitous.  


Coveyou, founder of Genius Games, left home when he was 16, joining the Army Reserve his junior year of high school. He began classes at St. Louis Community College after graduation but was deployed to post-Katrina New Orleans just several months into his first semester. He spent his downtime in New Orleans reading textbooks and watching lectures online; as a result, he returned to college in St. Louis a better student.

His instructors urged him to apply to WashU to further pursue his interest in science. To his surprise, he not only was accepted but received a scholarship. Coveyou completed his undergraduate degree in environmental science with an emphasis in biology, then went on to earn his master’s in energy, environmental and chemical engineering, also at WashU.

A love for teaching led him to start Genius Games. The company designs and produces award-winning games that “simultaneously demystify intimidating concepts in the sciences and engage the players in a lifelong process of inquiry.”

Genius Games launched all of its games using the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter: Every one of them exceeded its fundraising goal.

Genius Games has designed six games to date, the most recent being Cytosis: A Cell Biology Game. It is the first ever board game based on the structure and function of the human cell. Players develop an understanding of the cell as they compete to fight off dangerous viruses and build enzymes,  hormones, and receptors. (Coveyou released a Youtube video about “Designing Cytosis the Board Game,” which you can watch here.)

The five other games in Coveyou’s repertoire are card games, including Peptide: A Protein Building Game, and Covalence: A Molecule Building Game. Genius Games has also created “My First Science Textbooks,” illustrated-story textbooks that help children as young as 3 learn the basics of chemistry. Genius Games’ full line of products and their descriptions are available on the Genius Games website.

His achievements have given Coveyou the opportunity to consult and collaborate with many successful companies as well as teach courses on crowdfunding and game design at Webster University.

If you’re intrigued by Coveyou’s entrepreneurial journey and his experiences with crowdfunding, be sure to check out “A Kickstarter Launch Story” on the Genius Games Youtube channel.  

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