After winning an Oscar for Best Short Film and an MTV Video Award, Laura Groppe decided a career transition was in order. So in May 1994, she left the Hollywood limelight, took her $75,000 life savings, and started an Austin, Texas-based media company, Girl Games Inc.
"It made perfect sense to stay in the entertainment industry and yet move in the direction I saw entertainment going in, which is interactive," says Groppe, 33. "I saw there was nothing for women and girls and decided this was the perfect niche."
Though the medium is indeed hot, Groppe's first project, a CD-ROM series called Let's Talk About ME!, is "focused more on the girl than on the platform," she says. "We're entering an era where nine out of 10 of these girls will be income earners. We have an opportunity to feed these girls, give them the tools, and tell them to go for it."
Offering everything from a diary with a "panic button" for privacy purposes to in-depth interviews with 23 role models, the series takes on the considerable task of trying to make adolescence fun. "It's a treacherous zone," Groppe admits. "I want to say, `You'll make it--you'll get to the other side and be all the better for it.' "
With the second version of Let's Talk About ME! due for spring release, Groppe reflects on entrepreneurial moments that rival the thrill of receiving an Oscar, like "seeing the box on the shelves, knowing this was just an idea a year and a half ago. And, at a [computer store], when a 12-year-old girl played with the game, bought it, and said to me, `Thank you so much for doing what you do,' that was a very cool moment."