Last week, a Springfield man who started his own company just three years ago and remains the sole employee took home a $100,000 prize from Microsoft by winning a global developer competition. More than 5,000 software developers participated in the Dream.Build.Play 2017 competition and Stellar Conquest, a game designed by Shaun Tonstad with Clarion Consulting of Springfield, was awarded the grand prize for best cloud powered game for PC and XBOX.
The prize money is intended to help further expand development of the game and provide marketing support to secure a publishing contract. Tonstad hopes the game will be ready for public release by the first half of 2019.
Prior to starting his own company, Tonstad worked as a senior developer analyst for LRS and then as the lead software developer for Jardogs, LLC, which was later acquired by Allscripts Healthcare Solutions.
Tonstad, who is originally from Colorado, said, “I’ve worked in the Springfield area for a number of years but always worked behind the scenes. I decided three years ago to strike out on my own.” His business, Clarion Consulting, employs 5-10 people on contract at any given time to assist with specific projects, but he is the only employee.
Tonstad has continued to work in the health care sector, including several projects with Memorial Health System. However, the client who originally brought him to Central Illinois was Morton Buildings. “We have work that’s underway for them that’s a mixed reality visualization. You can design the building to your specifications and then walk though it and see what it looks like,” he explained.
He describes the game that won the Microsoft competition as a hobby, something that he built for fun over the holidays. However, his previous employer, Jardogs, began as a start-up in 2009 and won Springfield’s first Project Innovation contest in 2010 for an online portal called FollowMyHealth that allows patients to electronically access their health care records from multiple health care providers. It grew to being used by hospitals and doctors nationwide before being acquired in 2013 by AllScripts, a publically traded company with more than a billion dollars in annual revenues. Despite its humble beginnings, it appears that Clarion Consulting may have a bright future as well.