Here’s How a Board Game Enthusiast Became a Board Game Entrepreneur

Here’s How a Board Game Enthusiast Became a Board Game Entrepreneur

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Kim McGrigg is the founder of Green Quarters, a company that sells the new board game Not a Problem, which promotes innovative thinking. McGrigg is a first-time entrepreneur who says she has thoroughly enjoyed the journey so far.

“I have had to learn every single aspect as I went along,” she said. “The process of learning has been as exciting as actually having the game itself. I can’t wait to do it again!”

Starting Out

Why did you start your business?

I work for Junior Achievement, which is a nonprofit that helps kids get ready for what’s next. We teach kids about entrepreneurship and financial literacy and work-readiness. It is in my nature to believe that anyone can be an entrepreneur. My work background is in communications. I was in communications for another nonprofit for 18 years. Both positions have been in the nonprofit education space where I was encouraging people to dream big and reach their potential. I finally decided to put my money where my mouth is.

I got the idea for the game a little over a year ago. My friends and I get together and play games and drink wine and eat M&Ms. We get really sick of our old standby games, so we decided to try some new ones. We got some new ones over Christmas and we were really disappointed by the games. After the third attempt, I just said, “I can do better than this!”

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How did you finance the business at the start?

I established a company and established a separate bank account and line of credit for the company. I also invested some of my personal money. And I ran a successful Kickstarter campaign.

What’s the biggest mistake you made when you were starting out?

My very first idea for a game, I was really excited about. I created a prototype. The first time I had people play it, they said, “This game is really fun! We played it last week.” It was already a game! I thought it was a good idea and so did someone else!

The other area I made so many mistakes in was with importing. I did not know anything about working with a manufacturer from China and how to get the games to the United States. Once they’re at port, they don’t magically show up to your house – there are a lot of steps in between there! Next time, I will be much, much better at importing.

What’s the smartest thing you did when you were starting out?

I asked for help. I cannot believe the support that other entrepreneurs are willing to give you if you just ask. I went to these gaming groups that get together to play board games at breweries. They welcomed me and played the game and gave incredible feedback. There are two owners of a local store here called The Wizard’s Chest, which is just the coolest store ever. They were and still are mentors to me the entire way, including what the box shape should be like so that it sits well on a shelf. They actually carry the game now, which is really fun.

Running the Business

How do you manage cash flow in the business?

I started doing my own finances and quickly realized that it was not the best use of my time. It was just a skill set that I didn’t want to learn. I really wanted to spend my time marketing the game. The only service that I pay for is an accountant to do my books. I’ve only had the original shipment of 2,500 games that I ordered in September, so I haven’t had to order more yet. I was very lucky to have those initial Kickstarter backers to pay for that order.

What’s the most challenging thing about running the company?

Being patient. I’m so excited about what I created. I’ve had some really exciting successes. I just want to walk into Target and see that product on the shelf, but it just doesn’t work like that. It takes a lot of time and work and communications efforts.

What’s the most rewarding thing about running the company?

The most rewarding thing is taking an idea and making it into something real. I’m an idea person. I have a million ideas. My brain never stops. But, I’ve never seen it all the way through. To know that I could not only have an idea but also make it a reality feels really good. I’m really proud of it. Regardless of whether I make a ton of money, I’ll never regret the experience.

What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur?

Fulfilling a dream and doing something you’re passionate about is always a success regardless of whether you make a lot of money or not. There’s just something valuable about caring so deeply about something and accomplishing it. For me, it was a life-long dream to bring an idea to fruition.

The Future

What’s next for Green Quarters?

I have a really big conference coming up in April with 18,000 students. I’m really excited to get in front of the students, because they’ve been my greatest target market. And, also, I have game No. 2 in my brain already!

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Photo: Evan Semón

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About the Author — Ashley Sweren is a freelance marketing writer and editor. She owns her own small business, Firework Writing (http://www.fireworkwritingonline.com/), located in San Jose, California.

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