Ian Taylor-Schlitz is a senior integrative studies major. He's also only 15 years old.
Taylor-Schlitz began college at the age of 12, taking courses at Tarrant County College before transferring to UNT to finish out his undergraduate degree.
"Originally, I thought it would be scary because I didn't know if other students would accept me or not," he says. "But, as I took more classes, I realized people there didn't care how old I was -- they treated me like any other student. It was the opposite of what I was expecting."
Outside of the classroom, Taylor-Schlitz also is the creator and CEO of Kidlamity Gaming, a company he launched in 2018 that hosts video game tournaments for children ages 8 to 17.
"I used to attend the big esports tournaments, and I was the only kid there," he says. "I realized I must not be the only kid who wanted to come to tournaments like these. So I created a safe place for kids to get together and play games they want to play."
Kidlamity doesn't have its own space just yet, so in order to host tournaments, Taylor-Schlitz partners with local businesses in the Keller area, providing them a spot to gather while also giving their partners free publicity.
"Currently we're mobile because we didn't want to buy a building if the idea didn't work," he says. "We wanted to gain a following first. We went to restaurants and set up there because we wanted to see if people were interested. Once our following is big enough, that's when we can talk about hosting a building."
From Super Smash Bros. to Fortnite, Kidlamity can host a variety of tournaments, along with birthday parties and other social events.
For Taylor-Schiltz, running Kidlamity hasn't been too stressful -- he says he's actually learning a lot from it.
"For me it's exciting because I get to control everything in the business," he says. "It's made me more responsible and really helped me manage my time."
Prior to COVID-19, Kidlamity was doing well, enjoying a stable partnership with Comic Warriors, a comic bookstore in Keller.
"We grew phenomenally," he says. "My dad created a website, and we pitched our ideas to multiple businesses in the area. As we progressed, we started developing our social media as well."
Kidlamity is currently halting operations during the pandemic to prevent spreading the virus. Taylor-Schlitz is continuing his coursework at home as a student in the Honors College and is set to graduate in Spring 2021. He's been accepted into the M.B.A. program at UT Dallas and hopes to continue growing his business.
"My dream for Kidlamity is to become one of the huge video tournament hosts," he says.