What It's About
A dreary afternoon in the Netherlands leads to $400,000 in eight months!
Words of Wisdom
Like many other side hustlers we’ve heard from, this crew’s main advice to potential hustlers is to “just do it!” As Lizette put it: “once you share the prototype with people, you can see the reaction you get and it will validate your idea.” Then you can worry about starting to produce it and connecting a story to help sell your product or service.
One of the most important concepts in Dutch culture is “gezellig.” It doesn’t have a literal translation in English, but if something is gezellig, it is familiar, warm, friendly, and cozy. For example, enjoying a cozy dinner with old friends in one of your favorite little restaurants with some tasty food and wine is gezellig; being in a meeting at work is not gezellig!
Notes from Chris
Winter in the Netherlands means cold days, and long, dark nights. There’s only so much you can do indoors when blistering winds and building snowdrifts drain your motivation to leave a cozy home. But as cabin fever grows, conversation tends to drift into small talk and meaningless platitudes. At least that’s what one entrepreneurially motivated couple noticed on a bleak December afternoon. The year was drawing to a close and Bart and Lizette were spending lots of time indoors with their family and friends during the winter. But with all this time spent surrounded by people, they began to realize that they didn’t know them any better. The more they thought about the lack of valuable conversation in their lives, the more they realized that they desperately needed it. In their pursuit of bringing friends and family closer together, the couple set themselves the task of bringing interpersonal connection to life in the form of a card game. After borrowing paper from Lizette’s younger cousin and markers from Bart’s niece, Liz and Bart cleared a spot on the floor and started brainstorming a list of deep questions. Bart and Lizette wanted their friends and family to go beyond the surface conversations they were used to having. They wanted more. There’s a Dutch word for that wanting of more. Vertellis, meaning ‘tell us more.’ To Bart and Lizette, this is exactly what they were searching for. They wanted to see their families in a different way and learn, from them, what is important. And it was a sort of parting gift to them before they went away on a trip—a trip where they met their first business partner, Lars. It was a smashing success, but for the most part, it was something that they kept in the wings since they had careers of their own, but Christmas Eve of 2016 presented a fantastic opportunity. Lars gathered his family and friends, built a fire in the living room, explained their new game, and sat everyone down to play it. Soon, the air was filled with laughter and engaging conversations. It went so well that everyone wanted to play again the next day. That’s when Lars, Bart, and Lizette knew they had truly stumbled onto something good. Vertellis grew from hand-cut paper squares to a successful self-run crowdfunded game and $400,000 within the first eight months! Now, its reach has expanded and is being sold in stores throughout the United States, from Oregon, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania. They’ve even added both family and relationship-based editions and new languages to expand their customer base! Whatever happens next with Vertellis, it’s sure to be a conversation starter.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- Vertellis: Build stronger conversations in your own life—learn more on their website!
- Crowdfunding and Board Games, a Match Made in Heaven?: Learn more about the opportunities for launching crowdfunding campaigns for board games
- “Game Night in a Can” Makes $75,000 for TV Producer: A crowdfunded project to bring LA comedy to households across the country becomes a big success
- Cards Against Humanity Inspires Six-Figure Party Game: Two friends in their twenties create a “nonsense” party game. Ten years later, they turn it into a side hustle that is now sold at Target
Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work! Yours in the revolution,
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To infinity and beyond,