I spent the first decade of my career as a successful executive in the corporate tech industry, serving first as the Federal Sales Manager at Wyle Systems, Inc. and VP of Business Development for Federal Programs at Quality Software Services, Inc. (QSSI). Life was great at my day-job, but I lacked the passion for my work.
I’ve always had an interest in games and entertainment and had always dreamt of owning a business, but my career at the time was far from that. Like all good entrepreneurs, I knew I wanted something more and left my office job behind to pursue my passion!
In 2003, I launched my company Ideas Never Implemented (INI) with my very first game called I’ve Never.
We’ve since grown to offer more 65 products that are sold worldwide on Amazon and in Urban Outfitters, Target, Barnes and Noble, and more.
What was the inspiration behind forming your own company – Ideas Never Implemented?
Day after day, I was working on endless proposals, driving to meetings, sitting in traffic, attempting to meet endless government contracting deadlines, and it all got old and tiring. I needed something new that would make me want to jump out of bed.
I always knew I wanted to own my business and change the world with my inventions, but I didn’t know what exactly I would channel my creativity into.
I did know that I wanted to create something different, fun, and something everyone could enjoy. I turned my ideas into board games and it was the best decision I ever made.
The feeling of being able to wake up and know that you’re going to work for yourself is priceless.
It’s common for people, myself included, to look back and run through all of the would haves, could haves, and should haves. That’s what led me to the company name – Ideas Never Implemented.
I hope to inspire others to make their ideas, creations, and inventions a reality just like I did.
In what ways did your professional background prepare you for running your own business?
Over the years, I acquired a diverse range of knowledge and skills that have helped me run my business. My experience in sales, marketing, tradeshows, accounting, cost, profit, gross margin, supply chain, EDI, eCommerce, app development, infrastructure, outsourcing have helped me immensely.
I also made a point to read books, ask questions, and do whatever I could to pursue my passion.
H0w has your business model and the game industry changed since you started in 2003?
Big players like Amazon.com have completely changed the retail industry. Meanwhile, corporate giants like Borders and Bed, Bath & Beyond are closing stores across the nation and mom and pop stores struggling to keep their doors open have changed how I approach potential sales channels.
The game industry has evolved immensely as well – people are playing their games on phones and not on the kitchen table.
Despite these changes, learning and adapting to them has produced some of the most valuable lessons in my journey. Every day I’m learning something new about not only my company, but about myself.
How does Ideas Never Implemented stand out for the competition?
We make it our mission to create quality games that are easy to play and most importantly, fun! When we created I’ve Never, people instantly recognize the verbal version and are thrilled to discover it as a physical board game. That built-in name recognition and has been huge for us.
If you could go back in time and give yourself some advice, what would it be?
I would place more emphasis in finding the right people and companies who know are experts in my areas of focus. I now see the value in working with individuals who know the ins-and-outs of the toy industry and can contribute a rich understanding of pop culture, public relations, and manufacturing to what we do. This has been integral in bringing our products to market in a way that reaches our target audience.
In addition, I would secure a line of credit and put a 1 year, 3 year, and 5 year plan in place for each game/brand and then execute to it. In order to succeed, you have to invest back into the company/game.
I have been dropped by the biggest companies. I have been stuck with large amounts of inventory. I have been told that there is no place in this world for adult board games.
I have even had years so rigorous where I thought to myself that I was going to have to find another job – but I never gave up.
I kept pushing forward, exposing my games to as many people as possible. I overcame the challenges because I never gave up, I never took short cuts, I learned to adapt and still create the games that I believe in.
Nowadays our world is so technology driven that it is a must for companies and businesses to promote themselves through social media.
Social media has enabled INI to gain more exposure and interact with many people very quickly. It has also helped me on the back-end to strategize and learn ideas by watching other companies implement different social media tools.
Currently, our company promotes through the major social channels including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. In addition, all are games are available on Android, Amazon, and Apple.
Take us through a brief history of your company.
In 2003, I started with the I’ve Never party games and manufactured several versions to appeal to adults, party-goers, and even children. In 2011, I developed Dabble, The Fast Thinking Word Game and created an app version.
From there, I came up with the idea to transform the popular party game, Never Have I Ever, into a card game. Again, I developed several versions that would be fun for teenagers, young adults, and anyone who has a sense of humor.
My most recent invention, Never Have I Ever® – The Game of Poor Life Decisions™ is available in Target, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Spencer Gifts, Urban Outfitters, Calendar Club, Indigo, and Amazon.
Top 5 Favorite Moments
1. The creation of my first game and app : I’ve Never Adult Party Game
2. Landing my first big client: Spencer Gifts
3. Taking George Weiss’ idea for a word game and helping him bring it to market.
4. The creation of our Dabble App
5. The launch of Never Have I Ever® – The Game of Poor Life Decisions™
Tell us about your latest game –Never Have I Ever.
Still feeling weird about that time you called someone the wrong name during sex? How about when you got arrested for public urination? Don't worry, all your poor decision-making has finally paid off!
Never Have I Ever® – The Game of Poor Life Decisions™ presents a chance to relive life’s funny, embarrassing and awkward moments with your friends. We’ve thought of hundreds of things you may or may not want to admit and added a competitive element to up the ante.
You’ll be amazed how quickly you can learn about someone, and yes – you will have a good time!
The reaction to Never Have I Ever has been spectacular. People love that the game not only enables you to learn more about yourself, but all of your friends, friends of friends, family members, even total strangers.
The game is geared towards an older audience, preferably people who have “lived a little.” The game is intended for ages 17 and up, but our sweet spot is 21-35.
I majored in Marketing and Management and received my B.S. degree from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. After graduating college, I gained valuable experience along the way. Each job, manager, business partner, supplier, client was a new opportunity to learn from.
My career has adapted over time and it continues to evolve – which is why I love my job!
Along the way I had a lot of help. I had my friends, my family and most importantly my wife behind me. I owe it all to my wife, without her telling me to let go of the “same-old” and chase my dream - none of this would have happened.
She let me take the risk and she believed in me every step of the way.
Each day my company grows, I grow as a person and my gratitude goes towards all the people who have supported me along the way. My friends and family are the driving factors that motivate me to excel in my career.
Currently I am focused on the launch of Never Have I Ever – The Game of Poor Life Decisions and getting as much exposure and promotion as I can for this game.
So far, the response has been very bright. Our future plans are to create expansion packs, international versions, and more mobile apps.