Entrepreneurship 101

I’m pretty well known among my friends and family as a serial entrepreneur, getting my hands in all kinds of businesses. I get sidetracked on the next shiny object (business idea) pretty easily. Which can be a good… and bad thing… 

I know James, my business partner & Designed.co’s CTO, would say that if he had a penny for every idea I’ve pitched him some crazy idea over the years then we would have already retired, filthy rich. But for those that know me, you know that retirement couldn’t stop me from my next big idea. I know my team works hard to keep me focused, often killing my crazy ideas off before they go too far, and begrudgingly, I know they are doing the right thing. 

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It’s a lesson in self-discipline and focus that had me take a step back to see where I devote my time and energy. What I’ve found is that time invested into my team has always returned 10X. That is to say, my success is a direct result of the team around me. Don’t get me wrong, I have an amazingly talented, passionate, and driven team. So, I generally just let them do what they are already good at, but therein lies my biggest challenge.

“My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better.” — Steve Jobs

It’s a quote that makes me reflect on what I can do for my team to help them grow in areas where they may not have as much experience. What I have to offer is an expensive education from years of failures as a bootstrapped, side-hustle entrepreneur. So what better gift than to make my team a part of that journey, not from the sidelines, but from an ownership perspective.

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”— Winston Churchill

Time to roll up our sleeves and build something, get uncomfortable, learn something new and give the team ownership in something bigger than themselves. We would have to find a project that would be fun, leverage everyone’s extraordinary talents, give us a chance to laugh, collaborate, oh yeah and make money of course.

Who’d a thunk it?

“Look, a guy who builds a nice chair doesn’t owe money to everyone who has ever built a chair, okay? They came to me with an idea, I had a better one.”
Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg – The Social Network

With quarantine in full swing at the end of last year, and everyone working from home, I wanted to play a game with my team to award responsiveness and availability. I would post a movie quote from a Christmas movie on Slack at random times of the day, and paid bonuses to the first person who answered the question. It was fun, kept the team on their toes, and put some cash in their pockets for the holiday gift season. 

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It’s that same passion for movies that had us rent out a movie theater for Kasey’s birthday (due to COVID) to watch Ron Burgandy with a small group of close friends.

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What usually follows me watching ol’ Ronny B is me speaking in movie quotes for a couple of weeks. I’ve always been moved by movie quotes, music lyrics, and inspirational speeches but mostly, I just like to watch movie clips on YouTube and laugh my ass off. I noticed most clips have millions-upon-millions of views, there are even forums, groups, and whole websites dedicated to movie quotes, so I guess that I’m not the only one. 

It’s not the basis for the idea but I remember reading the story about Cards Against Humanity and their purpose “to be funny–and to have people like us.” rather than focusing on sales and profits. I think what stood out to me is something so simple, so purpose-driven, and fun could be so successful. No pressure to create some transformational or disruptive technology, keep it simple, enjoy the process and share our talents and passions. 

Hilarious movie quotes + extremely talented graphic designers and management team + simple & fun… And thus, Don’t Quote Me, was born. It’s not a new idea, in fact, there are already a dozen or more companies that make movie trivia games. We just wanted to add our own spin to the game, make it sexy and have fun creating something.

Ideas are easy, execution is hard.

We set out to crowdsource our favorite movie quotes from friends, family, and colleagues on social media, collecting 300+ quotes from some of our favorite movies from the 90s and early 2000s.

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The Designed.co team went to work coming up with product names, concept designs and came up with some ideas on how to market and sell it. I started to work on the business side of things, working through back-of-a-napkin financials, vendors and investments needed. 

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We polled our family and friends to get feedback on the design, gameplay, rules, number of cards etc… The end result is a beautifully crafted game, designed by an amazing team, in record time. Now the team will take over building and managing eCommerce, marketing, logistics, inventory control, payments, and some general elements of bookkeeping and reporting. In return, we will be creating an employee-owned royalty for every deck sold.

We are bringing the game to life with our first production order next week. No expectations for massive sales, just a passion project that expands our teams’ knowledgebase and gets them invested in what they do. (but seriously if we don’t sell these damn things everyone will get packs of cards for holidays from here on 😂 ) We’ll start presales sometime late next week and if all goes well we might actually sell out of our first batch of inventory (500 units). Either way, It will be a great lesson in success or failure for all of us, and we’ll all enjoy and learn from the experience. To say that I’m excited is an understatement, I just can’t wait to share what we have created and see what this amazing team thinks of next. 

This is only just the beginning, stay tuned.