Milwaukee-based gaming technology startup MagneTag LLC has spent the past seven years developing, perfecting and now marketing its “wearable battle system.” A hybrid between laser tag and sword fighting, the game is played using foam swords and armor that is equipped with magnetic sensors electronically keeping score. MagneTag currently sells its products to entertainment-based businesses and venues in New Zealand, Singapore and Toronto, but the company is working to tap into the local market. Founder Adam Cohen recently rolled out plans for a new event venue in Wauwatosa, called Tag Tosa, where people could play the game and MagneTag could conduct further research and development as it markets the technology to other entertainment-based concepts.
Late 2012: MagneTag’s first working prototypes were born out of a passion project that Cohen conceptualized in 2010. He had spent the next year tinkering in his basement with wire coils and circuit boards to develop the product’s magnet sensor technology.
2013: Cohen filed a patent for his technology and officially established MagneTag LLC. After further development with the help of Milwaukee Makerspace, the equipment was ready for testing.
Mid-2014: Cohen and business partner Jason Hilleshiem produced a fleet of 30 prototypes to bring to various events and festivals, such as Maker Faire Milwaukee and North Avenue’s Summer Solstice Festival. “Just to get the people’s reaction to what we were doing,” Cohen said. Chris Wilsonmade joined the company later that year.
Early 2017: MagneTag shifted gears and built four self-service kiosks to place at various bars and entertainment venues, including Bounce Milwaukee in Bay View, The Sugar Maple in Bay View and Mobcraft Beer in Walker’s Point. However, the kiosks “didn’t generate enough revenue on their own,” Cohen said, and the equipment was often misused and not maintained.
2019: MagneTag entered into a licensing deal with Los Angeles-based MGA Entertainment, which now retails its technology at Target and Amazon under the name Dojo Battle. MGA discovered MagneTag through the startup’s 2018 Kickstarter campaign, which raised $13,000. Finding capital for production remains a major hurdle as the company continues to grow.