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Chris Nichols
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So you've got a great idea and and probably started a business around it. Make sure you plan for failure, too. When will you throw in the towel and stop putting money into it?
I wrote the blog post below on my dying business. I had what I thought was a great gaming-related product that all I had to do was put in a lot of hard work to make successful. I kept putting money into it far after I should have, and it's going to be a rough hole to get out of.
Go for your dreams, but make sure you've built in some reality checks, too.

https://cardcaddy.wordpress.com/2018/06/16/pre-mortem-of-a-d...

Hope this gives at least one aspiring business owner something to think about.
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Colton Crowther
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Best of luck to you! I’m still using my Card Caddy.
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Laura Creighton
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I am very sorry that things did not work out for you. I also want to thank you for writing. Part of the problem we have as entrepreneurs is that we only get to read about the success stories. This fosters the idea that with a bit more hard work, and a bit more money -- if we can just last out the lean times -- success will be ours. After all, we have read that particular narrative a million times. We need more failure narratives.

What we don't have, alas, is a clear idea as to what failure looks like. So it can be staring you in the face, and you don't see it. The single best book I know about this problem, which I wish I had read 20 years ago, which would have saved me so, so, so much money by cluing me into the fact that it was high time I conceded defeat and stopped wasting my time and money is
The Mom Test. http://momtestbook.com/ which is a quick and easy read. I had no idea how much I was being lied to in the past, and sounds to me as if you were as well.

Deepest Condolences, Been There and Done That -- but you might find reading the book a bit of a comfort for all that.
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Mike Vande Ven Jr.
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I don't have, or plan to have a business, but this is still an interesting read. Thank you for sharing.
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Chris Nichols
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Thanks Laura - looks like I'll wish I had read it beforehand, but I will definitely check it out.
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Andrew Lowen
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Sorry for your unfortunate end to the company. However, I will say that in my experience as a marketing agency CEO, the guys that fail and try something else are the ones that make it big. They get tired of crap and learn to sniff it out a mile away. Those guys are a good investment - keep up your effort in another area, and don't be afraid of learning valuable lessons that take a few years to pay for.

My advice - come up with another hair-brained idea that just might work. And do it this time with your rose-colored glasses removed. You learned how to remove them through this process.

I'm glad you posted this blog. You're not ashamed of failure, and that means you'll probably be wealthy with a different business and some VC angel investment some time in the next few years. Just keep being a tryhard, while also being a trysmart
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Ray Dillinger
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For what it's worth, I could never even see the narrows hill games and cardcaddy.com sites. They always had security/certificate errors, and for some unrelated reasons I absolutely will not set my browser to ignore those.

This issue may have contributed to your degree of success.
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Paul Nowak
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Wow, you really swung for the fences. Not a bad thing. It’s a great product idea.

I had similar experience with Table Gype and several other projects I did over several years. PM me if you want a private conversation about dealing with the financial recovery.

I would recommend checking out Seth Godins blog, and his startup school and akimbo podcasts. One thing he recommends is setting an amount of money and a date when you start. When you hit hat money spent, or the date comes, you stop. Keeps you from throwing more money trying to recover sunk costs.



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John "Omega" Williams
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Some thoughts from someone who worked in the CCG biz briefly from its start, height, and then death.

I think indeed one of the contributors to the lack of interest is that your product came out way too late. Like 2 decades late.

Another problem is that retailers are now intensely wary of anything CCG related and its very likely that you met some resistance by association. Moreso if at any point in your pitch you mentioned CCGs to the wrong group.

Packaging may have been another issue as you guessed. Depending on how it looked or even just WHERE on the shelf it sits can skew things ine way or the other and some times in unexpected ways. Pricing might have been a factor too depending on what your retail price was to be.

Question though... Did you try marketing to Japan? Card games are popular over there and with a little embellishment I think your caddy would have seen better success.
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Josh
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My condolences, but much respect for your candor.

I’m reminded of the relatively recent push in biomedical research for publishing “negative trials” (i.e. reasearch trials where the hypothesis didn’t work). In the past there was much bias against publishing negative trials, primarily that they weren’t sexy, so a lot of times the researchers would let the trial die on the vine and quietly move on to the next. Of course, this removes a significant datastream from the discourse. When things don’t work, we need to think about why, and to help others not repeat mistakes.
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Thank you for sharing and documenting this specific experience of yours. People are all too happy to share their success stories, but I find that it takes much more courage to share the other (darker) side of entrepreneurship: what happens when things don't work out. Which is a shame really, because the imbalance of success & failure stories out there gives inexperienced entrepreneurs a skewed sense of what to expect.

You have my respect and admiration — the way you went about pitching your product to as many entities as you could despite repeated failures, and how you kept your optimism till the very end, it's all traits of a very tenacious entrepreneur. With your drive, I have no doubt that you'll achieve much greater success with your next big idea.

All the best!
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Chris Nichols
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RayD wrote:
For what it's worth, I could never even see the narrows hill games and cardcaddy.com sites. They always had security/certificate errors, and for some unrelated reasons I absolutely will not set my browser to ignore those.

This issue may have contributed to your degree of success.


Thanks! I'll check that out. My certificate is up to date, but I'll dig in some more to see what's up.
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Chris Nichols
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JoshBot wrote:
My condolences, but much respect for your candor.

I’m reminded of the relatively recent push in biomedical research for publishing “negative trials” (i.e. reasearch trials where the hypothesis didn’t work). In the past there was much bias against publishing negative trials, primarily that they weren’t sexy, so a lot of times the researchers would let the trial die on the vine and quietly move on to the next. Of course, this removes a significant datastream from the discourse. When things don’t work, we need to think about why, and to help others not repeat mistakes.


Yeah, in my "day job" I publish some academic papers, and there's no point in submitting a paper to a journal that says "we tried this and nothing happened", but you're right, it's really creating a culture where only success is important.
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Chris Nichols
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Omega2064 wrote:

Question though... Did you try marketing to Japan? Card games are popular over there and with a little embellishment I think your caddy would have seen better success.


Thanks - I did cold-call emails to 3 or 4 Japanese distributors I found online with no response. If you know of any, let me know - it was really a shot in the dark and some Google searching.

Canada is another country with a reputation for card playing and sales are good there. If only the shipping, exchange rate and other stuff didn't essentially double the price...
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Richie Freeman
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Apologies to hear that your business venture didn't turn out the way you anticipated it but utmost respect for your openness in order to help others. I definitely agree with the other posters in this thread in believing these sort of accounts will be invaluable to others - and it must be difficult to reflect on a situation like this. All the best for any of your future endeavours.
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Chris Nichols
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Lowenhigh wrote:


My advice - come up with another hair-brained idea that just might work. And do it this time with your rose-colored glasses removed. You learned how to remove them through this process.


I definitely have plenty of wacky ideas. I'm an engineer/scientist by training and my guiding principle when designing the Card Caddy was make something practical, sturdy and cost effective and the benefits will just be obvious to people, right? kind of like the Volvo of game accessories.

But, I definitely learned about the "hook" needed to get people's attention and sometimes the crazier, the better!
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Paul Nowak
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I recommend the book “The Dip” by Seth godin on this topic too - very little book about making the hard choices in your business.
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Jim Dietz

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You are absolutely correct and sorry for the 'failure'.

When I was independent Jolly Roger Games, I made a ton of mistakes at the start (including trusting the wrong people...) but survived for 20 years, before selling the business.

I'm in the process of starting another company and have already found those failures have been INSANELY useful in the first steps of forming the company and planning out the finances, etc.

As someone else noted, if you come up with another idea--go for it again. What do you have to lose? Money? You can't take it with you. Or else, you pitch it to someone else--and you're an informed designer, so you know when they are feeding you a line of bull because you know the costs, the pitfalls--as well as the potential profit.

* ** *
Not related to me running JRG, but at Origins, etc, I'd see people who had thrown so much money into their game, SURE it was a hit, "promised" by people it was a hit, exploited by GAMA to take a huge booth to make a splash, and then...the shock when they sold 40 copies instead of the full 1,000 they rush-flew in from China.


I was in actual tears once...an older guy put his retirement money into his game (it wasn't good...) and then followed it with a mortgage. By GenCon when I saw him, he was at the point of mental/physical breakdown.



dimesy wrote:
So you've got a great idea and and probably started a business around it. Make sure you plan for failure, too. When will you throw in the towel and stop putting money into it?
I wrote the blog post below on my dying business. I had what I thought was a great gaming-related product that all I had to do was put in a lot of hard work to make successful. I kept putting money into it far after I should have, and it's going to be a rough hole to get out of.
Go for your dreams, but make sure you've built in some reality checks, too.

https://cardcaddy.wordpress.com/2018/06/16/pre-mortem-of-a-d...

Hope this gives at least one aspiring business owner something to think about.
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Michael Love
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Hi, Chris. Sorry to hear this didn't work out for you, though nothing wrong with failing. The only people who never fail are those who never try. I'm sure you learned quite a bit and will be ready for your next idea.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
 
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Andy Daglish
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Quote:
So you've got a great idea
worth checking the opposition.

eg. Ultra Pro Deck Byndr, $8, admittedly nearly 25 years old:


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SLThomas
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Really valuable and (sadly) novel post. Thanks for sharing.

All I can think of reading your story is that wow if this is valuable insight for me reading it, it must be 100-fold more valuable for you having lived through it. I think with that kind of real life business experience your next business will go much smoother. I'm not familiar with your product but it just seems the market just wasn't there for some reason (maybe CCGs out of fashion, maybe not marketed correctly, maybe not a refined enough product/not ready for retail - I don't know).

The great thing about ideas is that they are free and come in near infinite quantities, so I'm sure you'll come up with another business idea at some stage and more than likely will enjoy more success given what you've learned.
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Chris Nichols
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aforandy wrote:
Quote:
So you've got a great idea
worth checking the opposition.

eg. Ultra Pro Deck Byndr, $8, admittedly nearly 25 years old:



Thanks - I had seen that product when I was first doing research for my business plan. I saw it hadn't been in production for a long time and figured that mine had features (stronger, more versatile, etc) that would make it be more successful. So, another lesson: if there's something that didn't make it, think about why yours will work in the market.

In the three+ years of doing this, you're the only other person who dredged up that product - maybe I'll make you the head of research for my next venture!
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Chris Nichols
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Jimdietz wrote:


As someone else noted, if you come up with another idea--go for it again. What do you have to lose? Money? You can't take it with you. Or else, you pitch it to someone else--and you're an informed designer, so you know when they are feeding you a line of bull because you know the costs, the pitfalls--as well as the potential profit.

* ** *
Not related to me running JRG, but at Origins, etc, I'd see people who had thrown so much money into their game, SURE it was a hit, "promised" by people it was a hit, exploited by GAMA to take a huge booth to make a splash, and then...the shock when they sold 40 copies instead of the full 1,000 they rush-flew in from China.


I was in actual tears once...an older guy put his retirement money into his game (it wasn't good...) and then followed it with a mortgage. By GenCon when I saw him, he was at the point of mental/physical breakdown.


Yeah, I think refining your "BS Detector" is one of the most valuable things that come out of something like this. It really helps you avoid those really negative interactions that are not only costly financially, but mentally, too.
I'd classify the businesses/people I've had bad experiences with into the the Incompetents and the Exploiters. With the Incompetents, when they provide you with a bad service or product, you get frustrated and aggravated, but it's easier to move on afterwards. But with an Exploiter, the fact that you got taken for a ride just eats away at you long after the financial implications, at least for me, anyway.

Thanks for the positive message, too, on starting again - I've got more ideas and next time will have better implementation.
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Jim Dietz

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There is a level of Buddhist Hell, I am sure, for the ones you call Exploiters. I won't lie--writing up my first post and dredging up that older man and his wife sitting in their booth...ugh.

I'd overheard them talking when I was at the booth next to them--it was in the 100s aisle, I remember that...the Aisle of Misfit Game Companies...and I just couldn't bring myself to make eye contact with him (shame on me as a human being).

I *still* want to punch out whoever took his money, told him that a game of rolling/moving around the board would sell thousands upon thousands of copies, didn't help him do research. (And if there's a BGG rule against threatening violence...sorry about that....)




dimesy wrote:
Jimdietz wrote:


As someone else noted, if you come up with another idea--go for it again. What do you have to lose? Money? You can't take it with you. Or else, you pitch it to someone else--and you're an informed designer, so you know when they are feeding you a line of bull because you know the costs, the pitfalls--as well as the potential profit.

* ** *
Not related to me running JRG, but at Origins, etc, I'd see people who had thrown so much money into their game, SURE it was a hit, "promised" by people it was a hit, exploited by GAMA to take a huge booth to make a splash, and then...the shock when they sold 40 copies instead of the full 1,000 they rush-flew in from China.


I was in actual tears once...an older guy put his retirement money into his game (it wasn't good...) and then followed it with a mortgage. By GenCon when I saw him, he was at the point of mental/physical breakdown.


Yeah, I think refining your "BS Detector" is one of the most valuable things that come out of something like this. It really helps you avoid those really negative interactions that are not only costly financially, but mentally, too.
I'd classify the businesses/people I've had bad experiences with into the the Incompetents and the Exploiters. With the Incompetents, when they provide you with a bad service or product, you get frustrated and aggravated, but it's easier to move on afterwards. But with an Exploiter, the fact that you got taken for a ride just eats away at you long after the financial implications, at least for me, anyway.

Thanks for the positive message, too, on starting again - I've got more ideas and next time will have better implementation.
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J.M. Diller
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I admire your positive attitude, thanks for sharing what you learned.

Best of luck in your next ventures and sorry that this one didn't work out.
 
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