Kate Reiling
Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

Kate Ryan Reiling’s big idea came on a freezing Minnesota night in 2002. It was too cold to go out, so Reiling and her friends decided to play board games. They didn’t like the options at hand, though, so they invented their own game.

What they came up with was something similar to a 3D version of Pictionary. A member of a team picks a word and using an assortment of objects, such as string, glass beads, colored cubes, and wooden sticks, she builds the word for her teammates to guess before time runs out.

The next day Reiling raided her local craft supply store, buying objects she could use for the game. She brainstormed words that could be "built" and wrote them on the back of old business cards. After numerous trial runs, the game became Morphology.

Then she hit a wall. "I had the product, but I didn’t have the skill set yet to turn it into a company," she says. So in the fall of 2007, Reiling enrolled at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

In one course, called First-Year Project, Reiling learned about scheduling and organization and how to work with investors, suppliers, and distributors. She took full advantage of those lessons and by the end of the course had refined her game prototype and put together a convincing business proposal.

While at Tuck, Reiling was also able to consult with the founder of the popular game Cranium, who happens to be an alumnus. "Business school is less about sitting in class and the assignments, and more about being able to pick up a phone, call someone, and know they'll return your call in 24 hours because you're in the same community," she says.

Reiling earned her MBA in the spring of 2009 and officially launched her company shortly after. Since then, Morphology has been named one of the top picks of the New York Toy Fair and voted No. 2 in Time Magazine's "Top 10 Toys of 2010."

Currently, Reiling is working on extending the game to wider audiences: Morphology for kids, a travel version, as well as Morphology for the iPhone and iPad. --Sommer Saadi, posted Jan. 31, 2011
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