Kaleb Dschaak

Powering Up the Classroom

Kaleb Dschaak, ’20, is a UND grad who turned his love of gaming into work, launching Fenworks, a company that offers after-school esports and drone programs to K-12 students.  

While employed at UND’s Nexus Esports Lounge, Kaleb often received inquiries from educators highlighting the need for tech programs. He started Fenworks in August 2020 with three employees and a plan to bring esports to area children. Fenworks has since expanded its offerings with programs in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wyoming.  

“We no longer see ourselves as just an esports company, but as the backbone of high-tech activities,” Kaleb said. “Maybe it’s computers, maybe it’s the internet, maybe it’s drones, maybe it’s lunar Mars racing or hackathons or coding competitions. More activities that have this high-tech flavor exist, and they’re so critical.” 

We no longer see ourselves as just an esports company, but as the backbone of high-tech activities.Kaleb Dschaak, ’20

Kaleb said Fenworks’ programs have grown quickly because they engage an audience previously neglected. Up to 80% of students participating in Fenworks programs in their schools had never been involved in an extracurricular activity. Statistics show that after participating in esports, students achieve higher GPAs and mark fewer absences. Other benefits include enhanced problem-solving, and improved memory, coordination, and fine motor skills. 

“Young people are looking for new things to do; this is how they get involved for the first time; they participate, learn, and experience the thrill of competition with the support of family and friends,” Kaleb said. “We’re giving them hands-on experience that will drive their careers into industries of the future.”

Fenworks general managers, or coaches, educate parents and students to create structure and balance around gaming, They also prepare kids for the online world. “We can’t run from it,” Kaleb said. “We have to embrace it in a way that is healthy, intentional, and beneficial. That’s what matters.”

Ten UND graduates work for Fenworks. Grace Wagner, ’21, Fenworks director of marketing, was hired as an intern while at UND. She’s seen the company move three times to make room for the expanding staff needed to handle the hundreds of students now participating in Fenworks programs. 

“It’s a challenge to market to the different demographics, which include school administrators and teachers, parents, and students,” she said. ”Word-of-mouth marketing from satisfied customers has been one of the best ways to get new business.”

Fenworks is also responding to industry partners, school districts, and higher education institutions who ask: Where will the next generation of STEM workers come from? “The answer is programs like Fenworks,” Kaleb said. “Networkers, coders, engineers – all these high-tech activities involve these incredible skills. This is the way that hundreds of students have engaged in these activities.”

More about UND's esports programs