What’s the score? An entrepreneurial duo starts a business to sell the Cornhole scoreboard

MUNCIE – Paul Dytmire and Andy Klotz are learning that it takes patience and money to start a business that helps cornhole players answer a frequently asked question: “What’s the score?”

The first entrepreneurs, who have day jobs at Muncie Community Schools, co-founded Revelry Games to sell a portable electronic scoreboard invented by Dytmire a decade ago. They anticipate that the product, classified as ScoreBox21, will connect with players at all levels of the cornhole pastime.

Cornhole, based on throwing sacks (filled with corn in the early days of the game) into a hole in an inclined board, is played in backyards, tailgate parties, amateur leagues and professional tournaments.

The journey to building a business with ScoreBox21 began when Dytmire noticed recurring questions among cornhole players: “Hey, what’s the score?” and “Who’s Winning?” – During the competitions he organized in the bars and restaurants in the area.

“I kept thinking it would be nice to have something LED lit for everyone to see while we play,” he said.

School facilities director Muncie had the mechanical skills to build a prototype of the scoreboard, which is a tower with two columns of 21 lights that correspond to the number of points needed to win a game of cornhole.

Dytmire has taken its scoreboard to trade shows, where people have responded positively to the concept. The scoreboard won a gold medal in the toys and games division at the 2013 Invention & New Product Exposition in Pittsburgh.

But the final destination for the portable electronic scoreboard was the back of a closet in Dytmire’s house.

“It just went back to the same thing that everything always comes back to: I didn’t have the money to do anything else,” she said.

The invention surfaced during a conversation, however, when Dytmire met Klotz two summers ago. Klotz, who had worked in marketing for Indiana State Fairgrounds and WFYI Public Media, has just been hired as communications manager for Muncie Schools.

An instant fan of the concept, Klotz told Dytmire to contact if he wanted help spreading the word about ScoreBox21. They were not yet full-fledged trading partners.

“I’ve always known, based on what (Dytmire) has told me, that at some point a decision will be made whether or not you’re going to dig into your pocket and try to make something work,” said Klotz. “I wasn’t willing to do that.”

The encouragement came when Dytmire and Klotz entered the rankings in the Big Idea Pitch 2020 contest organized by Muncie’s Innovation Connector. ScoreBox21 tied for first place with a 6-year-old’s goggles designed to keep shampoo out of a child’s eyes during bath time.

“I realized, ‘Oh, people can really see this idea work and there’s a lot of genuine enthusiasm for it,'” said Klotz.

Dytmire and Klotz founded Revelry Games as an LLC in February 2021.

A surge in entrepreneurship accompanied the pandemic, according to Keith Pitzele, business mentor at SCORE Indianapolis.

“We’ve increased our hours,” said Pitzele of the local SCORE chapter, where 90% of customers are startup owners. “We have added sessions. We were really tense. “

The ability to “hit the reset button” attracted people during the lockdown, Pitzele said. Klotz said he had “an itch” to start a business, but daily life took precedence.

“I have a curiosity about how I would handle things totally under my control, as far as you can control,” he said.

Physical product

Building a plastic mold for the cornhole scoreboard proved to be a challenge, Klotz said.

To begin with, he and Dytmire struggled to communicate with an overseas technician who worked on the prototype.

“Whenever you thought about taking the next step, you didn’t get it the way you wanted it,” he said. “Or he added something you never discussed and approved of.”

Klotz said the pandemic had played a role in the delay in the shipment of parts and the shortage of people available to work on the project.

“While it’s a very simple and functional product, there’s a lot of design here to make it portable and keep it durable,” he said.

Bringing ScoreBox21 to market is a $ 190,000 task, said Dytmire and Klotz.

They are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the production. When this story went live, the fundraiser had just surpassed its initial $ 20,000 goal. The campaign accepts donations until 7 August.

Early adopters have the option to receive a $ 69 discount off ScoreBox21’s $ 179 retail price. The first 100 backers who commit $ 110 will receive the scoreboard.

Business mentor Pitzele said crowdfunding is a good option for entrepreneurs, but it’s not the only option.

Pitzele advises clients to consider US Small Business Administration microloans available up to $ 50,000.

He said small loans are an alternative to refusing to ask banks for help.

“The problem with new businesses is that banks don’t like extending money to startups,” Pitzele said.

Supply and demand

Before spending money on an idea, Pitzele said, it’s important to know if there’s a public demand.

“The only way to test the market is to probe people and find out what they think,” he said.

Pitzele said he was a fan of a Butler University course taught by fellow SCORE mentor Jeff Durham.

Entrepreneurship and Innovation Instructor Durham teaches a business canvas plan highlighted by these questions:

  • Would you use this product?
  • How much would you be willing to pay for this product?
  • How far will you travel for the product?

In the case of ScoreBox21, Klotz said that Dytmire has experienced years of in-person feedback.

“Wherever we take this thing, people don’t ask for the price. They just say, ‘Where can I buy it?’ “Said Klotz.

ScoreBox21 has garnered a couple of cornhole industry insiders, thanks to an unexpected business connection. Dytmire said he mentioned the scoreboard to one of his supervisors at maintenance company SSC Service Solutions.

The supervisor told Dytmire that an SSC employee in College Station, Texas works under the moonlight as a professional cornhole player.

“He said, ‘You need to talk to AJ Sims. He plays cornhole on ESPN ‘, ”Dytmire said.

Sims and his teammate, Josh Groce, became design consultants for ScoreBox21.

“When (Sims) told me it was one of the sharpest things in the cornhole he’d seen in a long time, I knew we’d be fine,” Dytmire said.

A growing game

Sims and Groce are two of the 256 professional players in the American Cornhole League. In 2019 they won the double ACL world championship.

This year’s ACL World Championships are scheduled for July 29 through August 7 in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Two other cornhole groups are the American Cornhole Association and the American Cornhole Organization.

“Millions of people are playing cornhole,” said Klotz. “Millions of people are investing a lot of money in their tables, their backyards and their setups.”

Scott Melby, who started playing the cornhole in 1998, claimed to be one of the longest serving officials of the American Cornhole Organization.

“Scoreboards are important,” Melby said. “People tend to throw in some adult drinks with their cornhole games. That’s when you really need a scoreboard. “

Melby organizes tournaments for her company, Indy Custom Cornhole.

He claimed that a mobile app is gaining popularity as a tournament scoring tool. Scoreholio, produced by a company in Santa Clarita, California, has a feature that sends the final score of a match to the online group of the tournament.

Melby said this doesn’t rule out an audience for ScoreBox21.

“Competitive players who play all the time make up a small percentage of cornhole players,” he said. “In my house? I think (ScoreBox21) would be great.

On July 30, the ScoreBox21 team will exhibit the scoreboard prototypes at the Carmel’s Brews on the Boulevard event.

Although a scoreboard is not a conventional product, it has been welcomed by open minds, Klotz said.

“We’ve had a much more positive reaction and encouragement,” he said, “than anyone who said, ‘Really? Do you think he’s going to sell out?'”

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