Board Game Industry Insider: Rob Ridgeway – Spontuneous!

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BOARD GAME INDUSTRY INSIDER
The Success Story of Rob Ridgeway, creator of the award-winning and best-selling board game, Spontuneous ‘The Song Game’!

Rob Ridgeway, creator of the award-winning and best-selling musical board game SPONTUNEOUS, has an inspiring story about being an inventor and an entrepreneur. Rob was born and raised on a farm and ranch in central Montana, where he acquired numerous entrepreneurial skills and the work ethic to apply them. His undergraduate was earned at Montana State University where he majored in Agricultural Business & Economics with a minor in Animal Science. Rob then pursued a Masters degree in Business Administration at Gonzaga University.

Following college, Rob returned to the family farm and ranch for less than a year before deciding to venture out into the business world. He worked as a Commercial Loan Officer for two years and then spent the next four years working as a Sales Executive selling Business Insurance. Rob soon realized that he was selling fear, and started to dream about how much more enjoyable it would be to sell fun.

During this time, a friend had mentioned taking a trip to the mountains, and another friend spontaneously burst into a tune, “Ain’t no mountain high enough!” Everyone laughed about how often they hear a word and a song pops into their head. This was the moment where Rob conceived the idea to turn this common concept into a board game, thus giving birth to Spontuneous – The Song Game.

Although he’s been selling fun for the past eight years; it hasn’t been all fun and games. Many challenges, and adversities stood in his way, including the various highs and lows that every entrepreneur faces. Rob also had a major health scare when he had surgery to remove a golf ball sized brain tumor in March of 2015. He has spoken in front of several thousands of people over the past seven years, sharing his battle scar stories and life lessons.

Rob’s story has taken some unexpected turns that many would not recover from, but his burning desire to turn an idea into reality has kept him focused and marching forward. Spontuneous has sold out the past three Christmas seasons and is on Amazon’s Bestseller List for Board Games, Games and Toys & Games. Another one of Rob’s success stories involves going on tour with Blue October and receiving his largest endorsement from frontman, Justin Furstenfeld. After living in Austin for five years, Rob is now traveling the country in his RV.

So what does it take to be successful in the world of board games? Listen to our Big Blend Radio interview with Rob Ridgeway and read his answers to our 10 Board Game Industry Insider Questions about his career, including the challenges he faces, as well as his inspirations.

  1. What led you into the world of board games?
    Ultimately, my thoughts led me down this path. At the time I was selling business insurance (i.e. fear), and I had thrown an idea out into the universe, that I’d be better off boxing up happiness and selling it someday. A year later, someone mentioned a trip to the mountains, and an individual in the group burst into the song, “Ain’t no mountain high enough!” I recognized that this is something commonly done by millions of people in everyday life, and that was the manifestation of earlier thoughts to sell happiness.
  2. What attributes do you have that make you a good fit for running a board game business?
    Successfully inventing, marketing and selling board games is the most difficult thing to do in the entire toy and game industry due to low barriers of entry and high competition. My strongest attributes for succeeding in this industry, which really apply to any successful entrepreneur with any business, is my belief in the vision I have, and my determination to make it happ
    en.
  1. Who or what inspires you?
    My father was one that always found ways to strip me of my confidence with put downs, and extreme doubt in any idea I had. I’ve learned to harness his negative energy, and use an intellectual judo that inspires me to prove him wrong. I love the fact that I’m winning, too!
  2. Describe your ideal client.
    My ideal client is really the person who is looking for a way to bring friends and family together, where they can disconnect from all electronic media, and interact with each other through a family friendly board game. In addition, anybody who likes music, would make for an even more ideal client. They don’t have to be music buffs by any means, just as long as they like to listen to music.
  3. What is your pet peeve in regards to your industry?
    I think my biggest pet peeve is dealing with the fake sellers that periodically try to list my game on Amazon. Any time you place an order online, be sure you are buying from the manufacturer and not a seller that has “just launched.”
  4. What personal changes have you had to make in order to build your career?
    I’ve learned to live pretty lean, and delayed starting a family of my own until I could afford to do so. Being a successful entrepreneur requires a lot of dedicated time, and in my case, it wouldn’t have been fair to anyone if I took that leap, which also requires a lot of time and energy.
  5. What do you consider your biggest challenge?
    My biggest challenge has always been finding the capital required to run the business. In the first 5 years, the struggle was to come up with enough money to stay afloat, but now that the demand for the game has been increasing significantly each year, the challenge has become funding the growth.
  6. If you could invite any three people (alive or passed on) for a dinner party who would they be?
    I’d invite Napoleon Hill, Ayn Rand, and Garth Brooks. It would be the perfect meld of business, philosophy and music, and I’m sure I would be flooded with brilliant ideas!
  7. If you could switch careers for a day, what would you choose?
    I would love to be a country music star for a day. If only I could sing, LOL!
  8. What is the most important tip you would pass on to another person just getting started in the board game industry?
    The biggest advice I could give for someone starting a board game, is for them to play test, play test, and play test some more. Developing a game free of hiccups is crucial for the success of a game. It must play well, and given that word of mouth will always be the most important form of marketing, people have to enjoy playing before they will recommend it to anyone. Learn more at www.SongGame.com.

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About the Author:

The creator of the musical board game SPONTUNEOUS, Rob Ridgeway is Big Blend Radio’s “Tunesmith”, where he challenges guests to play a round of his song game that matches words to lyrics. Rob also has an inspiring story of being an inventor and an entrepreneur.

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