Start-up board game business targets a winning future

NNAB charity patron Jeremy Goss and game designer Elliott Symonds prepare for the game launch at the charity night in aid of NNAB.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY NNAB charity patron Jeremy Goss and game designer Elliott Symonds prepare for the game launch at the charity night in aid of NNAB. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Friday, December 13, 2013
11:31 AM

Move over Monopoly. Clear off Cluedo – a Norfolk company is just a roll of the dice away from bringing a new generation of board games to market.

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Quirkative, based in Norwich, is the brainchild of life-long games fan Elliot Symonds, 42, who decided to turn his hobby into a fledgling business when he grew tired of more traditional games and realised he could do just as well.

He has been joined in the venture by fellow Norfolk gamers, entrepreneur Chris Sargisson, Norwich chartered accountant Phil Bartrum and senior bank manager and Elliot’s brother Scot Symonds.

Now the four are to launch two new games at a charity night next Thursday – looking for financial backing, having fun and raising money for the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind at the same time.

The event, being promoted by charity patron and former Canaries star Jeremy Goss, will be held at the Namco Funscape Bowling venue in Bowthorpe, Norwich.

An invited audience will test out the new games and a charity auction open to the public will follow at 8pm.

Money raised for the NNAB will be match funded by Barclays Bank.

Father-of-two Mr Symonds, whose day job is business development manager at Jarrolds Training in Norwich, said: “We’ve got a wealth of business experience between us, and all four of us are avid game board players. We’ve played against each other for years.

“The idea of pooling our skills and launching a board games company seemed a natural one. We’re all local boys, so supporting a local charity like the NNAB was a natural decision as well. They do so much work for visually impaired people in Norfolk we wanted to support their work.”

The games being showcased at the charity evening are called Vickrey! which is based on various auction techniques and Joker Poker, which has the card game at its roots.

Mr Symonds, of Heatherwood Close, Thorpe End, said: “My father loved board games and I have always played them.”

However, he stressed his interest was focused on a new generation of “very strategic” Euro style games which very rarely use dice and have no element of chance.

He said: “There is a massive worldwide audience; we recently went to the world’s biggest board games convention in Essen, Germany, and there were 150,000 people there.

“The game that was voted board game of the year there – Ticket To Ride – has already sold 1.3m hard copies and 25m apps at £5 a go. That shows the potential; it is akin to writing one great pop song.”

Another incredibly popular game was Settlers of Catan, he added.

Quirkative is lobbying for backers for its business via the innovative website Kickstarter.com which invites investors in arts-based new companies. They are offered rewards corresponding to the level of their investment; Mr Symonds has until January 5 to raise his target of £12,000 and is already 10pc the way there.

He said: “That will fund the production of the first 1,000 games in Poland. I would like to have them manufactured in Britain but that would cost double the money.”

View lots for the charity auction at www.quirkative.com; back Quirkative at www.kickstarter.com

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