No Batteries Required: These Entrepreneurs Are Banking On A Market For No-Tech Fun

By Diane Mastrull
The Philadelphia Inquirer

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Last year, during a Fourth of July party in New York, someone suggested to the Collier sisters that they should start a company and sell their customized board games. So,THEY DID IT!

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Who launches businesses in this tech-obsessed society with products intended to entertain that don’t require a watt of electricity or a blip of Wi-Fi?

At Bundle LLC, the answer is two sisters raised in a game-crazy house in upstate Pennsylvania who, as adults, want to help create for others that “environment for authentic conversations and laughs” through board games, said Cassie Collier, cofounder and CEO. (Her older sister, Jacklyn, is COO.)

At Kids Dinosaur of the Month Club LLC, the answer is a father in Bucks County, who, with his wife and two grown children, want to feed youths’ fascination with enormous reptiles, and getting packages in the mail.

Curious to learn what prompted their foray into entrepreneurship in such a no-tech way, I spent time with their principals, asking lots of questions, and recording the answers the old-fashioned way: with pen on paper.

BUNDLE
In the Collier household in Mount Carmel, Northumberland County, games were as beloved as the coal-region pizza Cassie, 31, and Jacklyn, 33, swear is better than New York pies.

“It’s a simple life,” Jacklyn, said of her hometown, where her father, Jack, worked in quality control at a plastics company and her mother, Millie, in mental health, and the closest movie theater required a 45-minute drive. “We created our own fun. It was part of our DNA.”

Poker was their father’s specialty. When he wasn’t dealing cards at the Collier kitchen table, he was playing for the house at the local VFW. “Bucks for Bonding” was their mother’s invention, a clever way of inspiring sibling collaboration by giving them a task to do together and rewarding it with cash.

Both sisters would graduate from Susquehanna University, Jacklyn with a degree in theater; Cassie in economics.

Jacklyn would go on to get a master’s in fine arts from the University of Houston and is currently acting in New York.

Cassie graduated at the height of the financial crisis of ’08 and ’09, so she joined the Peace Corps and went to Nicaragua to teach entrepreneurship to high school students.

After that came a master’s in public policy at Harvard University and a job in January 2016 as a valuation analyst at Deutsche Bank.

The sisters share an apartment in New York. They also share the title of founder of a board game company that loosely dates from December 2013. That’s when their Christmas present to their parents was a board game Jacklyn and Cassie made, based on family inside jokes and special memories. It went over so well that they started making board games as gifts for friends.

Last year, during a Fourth of July party in New York, someone suggested that the sisters start a company and sell their customized games on Etsy.

After a couple of days thinking about it, in part to make sure Jacklyn’s enthusiasm for the idea wasn’t just the effects of three glasses of rose, the sisters decided to go for it.

They developed a prototype, built a website at www.thebundlegame.com, secured copyright protection on any text within the game (description, rules sheet, content on the task cards), and, by late September, posted an announcement on Facebook and started accepting orders.

Bundle, ideal for a game intended to bring people together over nostalgia, offers three standard versions: couples, family, and bachelorette, each for $35. Customized games, built from client answers to questions the Colliers send them, are $65.

A trip around the game board includes required tasks in four categories: Name 4, Act It Out, Challenge, Pick Your Destiny, plus a final command on the last space. For couples, Name 4 might include a requirement to name four restaurants where they’ve eaten together; for families, to name four vacations spent together. For a bachelorette party, a challenge might be to create an updo for the bride-to-be with only supplies in the room.

Through a Kickstarter campaign in May, Bundle raised $15,000 and generated 200 orders, the majority of which are for personalized games. The games are being made in Netcong, N.J., and will be shipped from the Colliers’ apartment.

Cassie has scaled back her job at the bank to three days a week, both stunning and impressing her boss with her announcement that she was starting a board game business. Jacklyn has told her agent she doesn’t want any out-of-town acting jobs so she can be available to help grow the company.

When they think long-term, tech is involved, including software that writes questions the Colliers now do by hand, “so we can crank out game after game after game,” Cassie said.

“Eventually, it would be great to have a Bundle app” so people who can’t be at the same place at the same time can still play together (think Words With Friends), said Jacklyn, quickly adding, “but we are not tech-savvy.”

Where they excel, she said, is “real, human, person-to-person contact.” No batteries required.

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