Hayden Havelka of BitBasement

CYstarters Spotlight Story: BitBasement

This story is part of a series featuring each of the fourteen startups in the CYstarters 2022 summer cohort. Each student has the opportunity to focus on their startup or business idea while receiving $6,500 or up to $13,000 (per team), along with mentorship, accountability, and educational sessions on how to build a business. 

By Samantha Dilocker, ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship  


Get to know:  Hayden Havelka

Age: 21 

Education: Senior majoring in software engineering 

Hometown: Barrington, IL 


Currently working on: BitBasement, a collection of development tools for game developers to create games more easily. 


Have you always seen yourself starting something?   

Yes. I’ve been wanting to do game development for a long time. I’ve been doing that from a pretty early age. As a kid, I wanted to invent things or be a writer, something like that, something creative. I’ve always wanted to start something.  


When did you start working on BitBasement, and who or what inspired you?   

I had been working on a project for about seven years, and I was going to drop it because it just wasn’t going anywhere. I decided I would take on a much smaller project, something that could actually get done, very feasible. Previously, I had gotten funding for another project, an educational game. But we did some customer discovery and found that people just weren’t going to buy it. There wasn’t anything wrong with the game itself; people just weren’t in the market for educational games. I decided not to continue to work on that project anymore. I decided I didn’t want to work on an educational game anymore. It was really boring, but what if we took everything we had been working on, the characters and the art, and turned it into an actually fun experience. That was the one thing we did get good feedback on, that it was fun. So, I started BitBasement in January 2022. I had heard about CYstarters and pretty much started BitBasement in hopes that I would get into CYstarters and have the chance to actually develop it.  


What excites you about being an entrepreneur?   

The freedom. The freedom to be able to be creative and do things I might not normally be able to do in a normal work environment. The opportunity to plot my own course of what I want to do.   


What is your biggest goal for your business?    

Publish a game. The tools aren’t that bad; I have tools finished and ready to send out. But using them to actually send out a finished product is huge. That’s my main goal.  


What has been your biggest challenge thus far, and how have you overcome it?   

I don’t know if I’ve really overcome any of my challenges so far. Time management has been a challenge. It’s been really hard to prioritize what I need to get done and what I need to do in order to accomplish my goals, but I’ve gotten better at knowing how long things take and scheduling my plan out so I know I can fit everything in.  


How has entrepreneurship at Iowa State impacted you?   

I hadn’t been too involved in entrepreneurship previously. It’s not my major, I haven’t taken any classes, but the Pappajohn Center has been a huge deal. I attended Smart Start previously, and getting involved at the Pappajohn Center has really opened my eyes to what’s possible at Iowa State.   


What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student?   

Keep working hard but make sure your hard work isn’t misplaced. Make sure you know that your work is actually helping you achieve what you want to achieve. Even if it’s just learning something, it’s important that you’re getting something out of the work that you’re doing.   


How can we support BitBasement?   

Buy my stuff! Look into the tools I’m offering and follow BitBasement on social media (that I do not have yet, but when I do).