Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Checking in With SimplyFun

By Ward Batty

Gail DeGiulio is serious about play. Not long ago, the Bellevue, Washington mother of two and businesswoman was disappointed with the lack of variety and innovation of traditional games that she had played with her children, family and friends.

"I couldn't seem to find games that were both easy to learn and fun to play, and when I did it was always through word-of-mouth from a friend," DeGiulio says. When she did purchase a new game, her family found the rules were too complex or the game itself took hours to finish. The games they enjoyed most were discovered at someone's home party, at a family gathering, or through a recommendation by friends. A former board-game industry executive (Hasbro/Wizards of the Coast, SVP of Marketing and New Games), the inspiration for the SimplyFun occurred when DeGiulio attended a scrap booking party.

"Why doesn't someone make some great games and sell them at in-home parties?" was her thought. The in-home concept was perfect because that's how games are really bought and sold ñ through word-of-mouth referrals and recommendations from a friend or other trusted source.

"And that's now exactly what happens." says Matt Molen, VP Marketing & Co-founder. "A SimplyFun Consultant shares great new games with customers in a game-night setting, allowing the customers to 'try before they buy'. The Consultant acts as the trusted source and can make personal recommendations based on the customers' needs, likes, and price."

SimplyFun consultants -independent business owners - conduct parties where they teach guests how to play the games, and offer personalized shopping recommendations.

Diane Mendenhall, SimplyFun Founding Director says, "A party can consist of a few people or a lot of people. We like to get our new consultants started with a list of one hundred people they know to help them get the word out that they have started in a new business. But a party is different."

She adds that parties are usually about two hours. "That includes playing games, looking at the rest of the products, ordering, booking new parties and sharing our wonderful business opportunity."

About the games, Molen says, "Our development philosophy is to create games that are simple to learn and fun to play. Most of our games are geared towards the family and being able to play them thirty minutes or less. These products fit into any busy schedule. From there, we look for creative, fun products for both children and adults. We're looking for fun activities that fit into our mission of getting people to play together."

Mendenhall says, "Our number-one game is Walk the Dogs. Walk the Dogs is a fun strategic game. It has sixty-three cute little dogs. You make your own line of dogs according to the cards you have in your hand. The object of the game is to have the largest line of the same breed dog you can. If you get five you automatically win. But you never know when the dogcatcher comes and takes your dogs. This game looks like a children game but adults love it too. It is a perfect game to have parents and children playing together and everyone having fun! Eye to Eye is a fun game for adults and is also one of our top sellers. You're trying to see Eye to Eye with everyone else. This is a game that makes you and your friends laugh until you cry."

"If someone wants a party in their area or if they want to be a consultant they could contact SimplyFun or they could contact me directly (which I would love). I have consultants around the country and am building an awesome team!"

Top picture Jeremy Young, Gail DeGiulio and Matt Molen. All photos ©2006 SimplyFun.

Ward Batty
is a long-time game-player who has been with the same weekly game group for over twenty years. "I understood there was a pension." is his excuse. He writes a monthly column on the business of board games for Comics & Game Retailer magazine and has written articles and reviews for The Games Journal, Scrye, Knucklebones and Games International.

The Game Table
is a weekly column which is self-syndicated by the author. If you would like to see this column in your local newspaper, please write the managing editor of the paper. Interested in carrying The Game Table in your paper, please contact Ward Batty.

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