2020, What a Year to Start a Business
December 23, 2019, the day that Shamrock Games was officially registered. I had recently moved to Ireland and decided to fulfil my dream of making board games and board game accessories for a living. I genuinely believed that 2020 would be my year, full of possibilities, but little did I know what was about to happen… In this blog post, I want to share with you the story of how Shamrock Games started and how tough that first year was for me and my company.
Let’s start at the beginning, back in 2018 I got a job as a game designer for a small company in Belgium. As a passionate board gamer with an educational background in product development, this was the perfect first job for me. I loved designing games but in 2019 we decided to move to Ireland, and I had to say goodbye to my game designing position in Belgium. I looked for another game-related job but since I couldn’t find anything, I started playing with the idea of starting my own business.
The first step to set up my company was deciding on a name and logo. I wanted my company name to be linked to Ireland and since a Shamrock represents Ireland, I decided on the name “Shamrock Games”. After naming my company, I started designing the logo. A shamrock was the obvious choice, but I wanted my logo to have something special in it. As I have always been fascinated by Celtic knotwork patterns, I decided to implement this in my logo. The Celtic culture was an important part of the history of Ireland, so it made sense to combine the Shamrock with the Celtic knotwork in my logo.
Creating board games was my number one priority for my newly founded company, but I believed I could do more than just create and sell board games with Shamrock Games. After years of playing several games myself, I noticed that a lot of people are interested in board game accessories, like custom dice or dice pouches, and I decided to look into this.
Something that has always piqued my interest is fantasy settings such as Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. One of the things that fascinates me the most about these movies and series is the outfits, especially the leather armours. Leather has this rustic and luxurious look and feel, so the idea of using leather for board game accessories quickly came to mind.
I signed up for a bunch of leathercraft workshops to learn the ins and outs of working with leather. After learning to work with leather, I designed two products for my company. The first product was a leather deckbox for trading card games such as Magic the Gathering, YuGiOh, or Pokemon. The second was a drawstring dice pouch, perfect for roleplay games or LARP outfits.
I planned on launching my leather deckboxes via Kickstarter, but before I could do so the whole world went into lockdown.
Lockdown made it extremely hard to properly start my business. Something as simple as going to the store to buy leather suddenly wasn’t possible anymore. This caused a lot of problems in launching my first Kickstarter, read more on this in our next blog post. But lockdown also caused a lot of other problems. As soon as lockdown hit, Shamrock Games didn’t have any products ready to sell. Developing board games was only possible up to a certain stage since we weren’t allowed to meet up with people to playtest the games. This meant I had to be creative to launch some products, regardless of the lockdown restrictions. I decided to buy a 3D printer and make custom dice masters for dice makers. My company sold several sets of custom dice throughout the year and I had the pleasure of collaborating with amazing craftspeople like @_nicedice and @polka.dice. This was definitely one of the highlights in a year filled with struggles.
The lockdown restrictions did not only prevent me to playtest my own games, but they also forced local gaming stores to shut their doors. This made it nearly impossible for me to partner with these stores to sell our products. Fortunately, I managed to partner up with Reroll Games at the end of 2020 and they now sell our beautiful dice pouches in a variety of colour combinations.
In the end, I was able to launch my first Kickstarter, partner with my first local gaming store, and playtest my first board game in between lockdowns. I am proud to say that despite the struggles 2020 brought for me and my company, I was able to finalise my first board game which will be launched on Kickstarter soon.
2020 turned out to be quite different than I had expected, but Shamrock Games survived. I learnt a lot in all the challenges this year threw my way, and I am ready for launching my board games in 2021. The past year made me realise that whatever life throws at us, we can use our creativity and imagination to create wonderful opportunities out of the worst of situations. I am looking forward to the future where we can meet up and play games with our friends again. What about you?