LOCAL ENTREPRENEURS CHART A COURSE FOR THEIR NEW CARD GAME

What’s the quickest way to receive a crash course in fundraising campaigns and international manufacturing? For two coworkers at Southern Growth Studio, the answer was to create their own card game.

In 2018, Evan Katz and Josh Roberts came up with the idea for Charty Party, a card game in the vein of Cards Against Humanity. But rather than zero in on Cards’ focus on offensive jokes and stereotypes, Katz and Roberts instead devised a wide variety of prompts for a broad range of humor. Each set of Charty Party contains about 44 chart cards, which feature a line and a label for the X axis. Players are dealt several orange cards that include potential names for the Y axis. For example, one chart card might include “drunkenness” as the X axis, with measurements ranging from “sober” to “four loko.” Players then pick one of their orange cards to act as a label for the Y axis. A judge then anonymously decides which card is the funniest (see the image below for a visual representation).

In order to raise the necessary funds, Katz and Roberts turned to Kickstarter, setting the initial goal at $10,000. “We would have been obligated to produce it if we met the goal,” says Roberts, “but the real cost came out closer to $12.5K, so we would have lost money.”

In hindsight, they shouldn’t have worried; the total funds soared as high as $50K before the 30-day campaign ended. Kickstarter is full of aspiring board game designers. Getting a product to stand out can be difficult, but they believe their game struck all the right chords to be successful. “It translates very well visually, which I think really helped,” says Katz. “We also used Facebook ads to get the word out. We’d show off our orange cards with the descriptions against a white chart card and segmented that to people who were familiar with Cards Against Humanity. When they saw the prompt cards grouped up like that, they tended to say ‘we got it.’”

Once funding was secured, Katz and Roberts needed a manufacturer. They searched extensively through the United States for potential partners, but that option wasn’t feasible financially. Kickstarter then pointed them in the direction of two companies in China: Panda and LongPack. They chose the latter to produce Charty Party, and the process has mostly been smooth. However, Roberts says that it required some adjustments on their part to Chinese culture. “I’d always heard of Chinese New Year, but didn’t quite know when it was or how big it was,” says Roberts. “We learned all about it the hard way, and it put our production back about two weeks.” Contact with their account representative in China has also been difficult on occasion, with the time different requiring correspondence at odd hours for both parties, but Roberts says LongPack has been incredibly helpful and communicative throughout the process.

With production well under way, Katz and Roberts expect campaign backers to receive a copy of the game by June. For more information, or to order a copy of the game, visit chartypartygame.com.

– By Samuel X. Cicci

WHAT’S GOING ON

– Memphis-based Southern Airways, the largest commuter carrier in the country, announced its largest expansion at Memphis International Airport. On May 2, Southern will add three additional daily flights to Nashville to bring its peak-day total to four departures. Southern will also launch non-stop service to El Dorado, Ark. on the same day. “El Dorado has a long history of airline service to Memphis International, which a prior carrier discontinued several years ago,” says Stan Little, chairman and CEO. It’s also establishing weekend service to Tampa International, as a continuing flight over Destin. “With our major maintenance facility at Memphis International, we are now able to connect every Southern Airways plane between Dallas and Key West to our Memphis hangar,” says Little. “Memphis passengers now have the ability to take advantage of this network, which ultimately extends to nine cities from MEM.”

– Which are the best companies to work for? Fortune magazine has long been asking that question and in its March issue, it listed the top 100 in the country. Number 1 is Hilton, where the CEO has put in lots of benefits for employees, from more comfortable uniforms to a free program to let employees earn their GEDs. But what about Memphis? We are well represented. St. Jude Children’s Hospital comes in at Number 58 (is there a better mission anywhere?), while Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare makes it at Number 88 (it repays up to $25,000 of student loans of employees). FedEx is in there as Number 95 — and it’s also Number 5 among Fortune‘s seven companies that are not only great to work at but have more than 100,000 employees (FedEx has 296,474).

NEWS FROM OTHER SOURCES

– A three-mile stretch of Elvis Presley Boulevard will soon get a $40 million makeover, improving the appearance, and maybe the economic status, of the area in Whitehaven. Read Maya Smith’s story in the Memphis Flyer here.

– The maker, bottler, and distributor of Coca-Cola products in the Mid-South is consolidating its two Memphis-area production facilities, investing $33 million in a 200,000-square-foot expansion of its existing West Memphis production facility. Read Samuel Hardiman’s story in the Memphis Business Journal here.

– Memphis-based Fred’s Inc. is closing 159 of its stores by the end of May. Read Natalie Martin’s story in the Daily Memphian here.

– Ted Evanoff of The Commercial Appeal writes about the tussle between those behind a plan to build a new convention hotel Downtown and those who would turn the vacant 100 North Main building into a convention hotel. Read it here.

UPCOMING EVENTS
Got an event? Send your info to Samuel X. Cicci at [email protected]

– Margarita Festival: Vote on the city’s best margarita makers. Ticket ($34) includes entry to the event and 15 margarita samples, plus food, cash bar, and entertainment. Proceeds benefit Volunteer Memphis. May 11, 3-6 p.m., Fourth Bluff Park. More info here.

THE HOT SHEET

Who’s getting promoted? Who’s closing big deals? Who’s getting awards? Inside Memphis Business magazine’s Hot Sheet has the latest on milestones in Memphis.

– UTHSC named Jon McCullers, MD, interim senior executive associate dean of clinical affairs and COO for UTHSC College of Medicine.

– The Society for Information Management Memphis announced its new 15-member board of directors. The full list can be found here.

– Lehman-Roberts Co. was the recipient of the Tennessee Department of Transportation Smooth Paving Award for work performed on Highway 14 in Tipton County.

– David Hill has joined Turner Construction Company as a senior estimator in the Memphis office.

– LSI Graphics has purchased and renovated more than 12,000 square feet of office space in the Bartlett Corporate Park. It has also acquired Memphis Sign Erectors, which provides custom fabrication, installation, repair, and maintenance for signs such as on The Peabody roof and the electronic scoreboard in the FedExForum.
POWER PLAYER

Inside Memphis Business magazine publishes a list of local Power Players every year. These are the movers and shakers in more than 30 categories who get things done in their respective fields. IMB’s April issue has the complete list. We also publish individual categories in other issues throughout the year, and we feature individual Power Players in our weekly Tip Sheet.

This week’s Power Player is Rick Hechinger, president, Blue Sky Couriers since 2004. More than 22 years of experience in the transportation industry. B.S., Mechanical Engineering, University of Memphis. Paul Harris Fellow and member, Rotary Club of Memphis. Member, Greater Memphis Chamber. Former member, Executive Board of the YMCA of Greater Memphis, Shelby County Mayor’s Committee of Locally-Owned Small Business. Masters graduate, New Memphis Institute Leadership Development Intensive. Blue Sky now has operations in Memphis, Chattanooga, Cape Girardeau, and St. Louis.