*NEWS: Mogulize Moxie: Toy Company Scores Nickelodeon Series

The Heitkamp sisters, founders of GenGirl Media (photo: Steve Zylius/UCI)

A toy and media company focused on encouraging young girls to take an early interest in entrepreneurship will soon be featured on an animated series on the Nickelodeon network.

GenGirl Media, founded by Gina Heitkamp and her sister Jenae, created Middle School Moguls, (formerly iBesties) in 2014.

Middle School Moguls is a character-driven doll, book and online edutainment line for girls aged 6-11. This first product line from GenGirl Media was created to inspire the next generation of female business leaders and entrepreneurs.

The animated series will chronicle the ambitions of four new friends striving to create their own companies while attending “Mogul Academy,” an entrepreneurial school where kid-business dreams come true.

“We want to inspire young girls and help them understand that no career is off-limits,” Gina Heitkamp said in a press release. “This show is a great platform to help girls ‘mogulize’ and learn entrepreneurship firsthand and at an early age.”

UCI Applied Innovation, UCI’s innovation platform, helped Gina and her sister with their entrepreneurial dreams. They participated in Cove Share, an incubator program that preceded the current incubator, Wayfinder.

“UCI, and especially Applied Innovation, have been with us since the beginning of our journey,” Gina Heitkamp said. “They have helped us with mentors, guidance, office space, and, basically, all the resources we could need to get our business off the ground.”


In 2014 the sisters developed Middle School Moguls as their startup entry in the Business Plan Competition at the Paul Merage School of Business. They became the first all-female team to win. Additional awards and accomplishments include being featured in the “Top 10 Toys” lists from Toy Fair 2016, beating out hundreds of thousands of products, as well as winning the Geek Girls Pitch Competition.

The sisters learned through their research that few options for entrepreneurship and STEM (science, tech, engineering and math) existed for young girls. They combined forces, leveraging Gina’s marketing and tech experience with Jenae’s background as a child therapist to create characters and short stories about young girls in tech and entrepreneurship. For each character, they developed dolls to accompany their persona.

A Kickstarter campaign raised more than $50,000 for the startup and the Cove Fund I contributed an additional investment at the end of their crowdfunding campaign. John Kensey, one of the managers of the Cove Fund I, who was one of the first product managers at Mattel, was instrumental in helping the company, Gina Heitkamp has said.

More About the Series

The air date has yet to be announced for the series. Each of the four episodes is about 22 minutes in length. Sean Patrick Thomas and Garcelle Beauvais will be doing the voices for two of the characters.

About The Author

Deirdre Newman is a long-time journalist, who's covered OC startups for a few years.

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