444
11 min 1 sec

Childhood Game Master Earns $1 Million from Nerdy Kickstarter Campaigns

This Ohio man loves board games so much that he made his own—and when he tries to raise $6,000 through a Kickstarter campaign, he ends up with much more than he ever imagined.
Crowdfunding High Profit Manufacturing Product

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What It's About

After revisiting his childhood love of board games, one man creates his own and launches it on Kickstarter.

Business Model
Manufacturing
Skills Required
Design & Experimentation
Complexity
Medium
Profit Potential
High

Words of Wisdom

When we asked Travis for his recipe for Kickstarter success, he had a lot to say (listen to this episode for the full cut!), but first and foremost, he said that it's important that you make your product AMAZING.

As Travis put it, "your product being amazing or not contributes to 95% of whether or not your campaign will be successful. If you have one hour a day to spend on your Kickstarter campaign/idea, spend at least fifty-five minutes of that hour focusing on your product."

Fun Fact

Our Content Manager actually discovered Travis while browsing Reddit one day and learned more about his story after stumbling across an AMA he was doing that had made it to the front page.

Notes from Chris

Episode 444

If you would have told a young Travis Hancock that he’d eventually end up making a living off of his love of board games, he’d probably have laughed outright and said, “Yeah, right. There’s no way you could make any money doing that.” Followed closely by, “But hey, sign me up!”

Growing up, Travis and his family were always playing board games—especially around Christmas time. As Travis would say, it was kind of their “default state.” If they weren’t eating, sleeping, or God forbid, doing something else, they were gathered around a flat surface playing some kind of board game.

One game, in particular, was especially magical to Travis: Mafia. Without fail, this classic 80s board game from the USSR made a star appearance at every family reunion. It was a game that in Travis’ mind simply could not be beat. It had everything—concepts of good vs. evil, manipulation and deception, fighting for your “life,” etc.

This love of board games continued with him through grade school, and on through his days at university. He eventually landed in the world of digital marketing helping other companies with their SEO and virtual marketing needs, but he continued to play iterations of his old favorite.

Every Sunday night, he’d gather his friends around in a circle and catch up on the week’s events over a game. It was so popular that Travis’s brother even surprised him Christmas of 2012 with his own fully functioning set complete with a printed rulebook and cards, and all of a sudden… Travis was a published game maker.

There was only one copy of course, but it was enough to get his brain turning. Could this possibly become something more?

From that point on, Travis did everything that he could to find a way to get his game to the market. And that brings us to 2015. By this point, Travis had brought on a new partner in the form of his wife, Holly, and had given his game a new and exciting design and theme—the Salem Witch Trials! It was ready for the masses...now he just needed to get funding!

While the Hancocks were hoping to bring in around $6,000, their first game exceeded their expectations by a whopping $100,000! Travis was so impressed with their initial success that he quit his day job and decided to launch Façade Games building board games full-time.

Travis’ second game in the series raised around $403,000 in 2017, and Deadwood 1876 is currently raising funds on the platform now (it’s already smashed its target, having raised over $317k so far—almost $300k more than it’s $25,000 goal). All in all, they’ve sold around a million dollars worth of games through this dynamic crowdfunding platform.

You could say that for this dynamic duo, it was certainly the right move!



MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Façade Games: Roll the dice, and learn more about Travis, Holly, and their games over on their website
  • Kickstarter | Deadwood 1876: If you're interested in learning more about this burgeoning indie game company, check out their most recent Kickstarter campaign. They're even offering a customized option where their designer will make cards based off of your likeness!
  • Fiverr: The freelancing platform that Travis and Holly used to find Sarah, the illustrator for their board games
  • Panda Games: The middle man game manufacturer with connections to manufacturers in China who helped Travis get his games out to the world
  • SaltCON Board Game Convention: The board game convention that helped Travis connect with his manufacturer
  • Wordpress: Travis used Wordpress to setup Façade Games, and here you can learn how to install your own Wordpress site in 5 minutes

SEE ALSO:


Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

cg-sig-newsletter


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Quote of the Day
"If you're looking to do this too, you should know that your final game will likely look nothing like your initial idea, and that’s ok! Our games are literally tested hundreds of times and go through about a hundred different versions. The final game is often completely different from where we started."
—Travis Hancock #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau