Leia Avery knew early on that she would become an entrepreneur. As a child she made money by creating a carnival in her backyard and charging friends 25 cents to play hula hoops and the Bozo bucket game. Her love of having fun and desire to share that with others inspired her to create Just Play Entertainment. After seven years of working diligently, Avery is finally taking the board game industry by storm with her game, Catch My Drift?!?
Created in 2008, Catch My Drift?!? is a game of urban lingo. Inspired by Taboo, teams have to guess a popular urban phrase without using any of the violation words. The team that guesses the most words wins.
In order to create the perfect product, Avery spent months researching. From there she worked with an artist to create a prototype and found a manufacturer to create the game. She formed test groups to measure success and rented a kiosk in two malls to sell it. After her first run, Avery changed the cover of the box and added a hand clapper to the game to signal a violation to the opposing team.
After experiencing some success with Catch My Drift?!?, Avery decided to walk away from her company in 2011 after dealing with some personal challenges. She knew her entrepreneurial spirit would make a way for her. However, opportunities continued to come her way and she decided to recommit to her company.
Avery caught her big break when she called in to the Michael Baisden radio show and was able to market the game to his audience. To date, she has sold over 8,000 copies to customers all over the country. She has also made custom Catch My Drift?!? games for Tamar Braxton, Kandi Burruss, Tiny Harris, and Monique Rodriquez of Mielle Organics Hair Company. Additionally, Avery’s company has added a new game called Jumbo Tumbling Tower to her roster. The game similar to Jenga challenges players to build a tower with individual blocks without knocking it over. The Obama-Mania board game created by her father, is also sold on the site. Also, once a month you can find adults in Chicago enjoying a monthly game night hosted by Just Play Entertainment.
Rolling out sat down with Leia Avery to find out more about her story.
Why did you create Catch My Drift?
At the time I created Catch My Drift, I was an admissions adviser for DeVry University and it was so boring at times that I would make up trivia quizzes for my associates to compete for the highest score. I recognized that they were eager and looking forward to the trivia every day. But little did they know I would have something even better! I’ve always had dreams of becoming a successful entrepreneur and had my hand in a few endeavors since my sophomore year in college. My best friend recommended that I start watching the TV show called “The Big Idea.” The episode that changed my life was when the creator of the board game “Cranium” was featured. I was so inspired when I heard his story, that I decided that I wanted to create a game. My boyfriend at the time suggested that I create a game using slang words, I took his suggestion and that’s how Catch My Drift?!? was born.
You have fully immersed yourself in the world of games through your company Just Play Entertainment. Tell us more.
My motto is “Never Stop Having Fun” because life can be so hard and stressful that people forget to live a little and enjoy life. My company, Just Play Entertainment hosts one-of-a-kind events by way of fun and game play for prizes. One of our most popular is our “All I Do Is Win” game nights where teams of 4 compete to win the championship title of Catch My Drift, Family Feud, UNO, Jumbo Jenga Dare, Heads Up Charades, LCR, Nintendo Wii Dance-off and more. It’s like an adult playground, we even take it up notch with Battle of the Sexes Musical Chairs and Tug-o-War.
When did you know that you had created a quality and competitive product?
After the first test play, people really got into it. They got very competitive and couldn’t stop laughing! The feeling I get to be able to bring so much entertainment and enjoyment is priceless. I really knew I had a competitive product when a well-known game company wanted to meet with me. Not to partner, but to get my permission to use a part of my name to create a “similar” game. I think not!
What are some of the successes and challenges you experienced while running your business?
Catch My Drift was recognized as one of the top 10 boredom busters at the Navy Pier Toy and Game Expo. We entered into the Walgreens local buying program but the challenge was that we needed the capital to purchase mass quantities to be able to sell at wholesale prices in retail and specialty stores. Once Catch My Drift gets the national exposure it deserves, all the doors will start opening and I won’t stop pushing till that happens.
Also, hosting events is the easy part but getting people to attend can be very challenging. After much determination and guerrilla marketing, our monthly “All I Do Is Win” game nights now have nearly 100 attendees and up to 350 at other themed events such as our Annual School Daze HBCU Day Party and International Bites Gala which is partnered with Events By M Herron.
What is the best advice you received on your journey?
The more no’s you get, [the closer you will get] to a yes.
What advice would you give an up and coming entrepreneurs?
Find your purpose and surround yourself with people that are driven for support and drive. Create your own opportunities instead of waiting for someone else to open doors for you.
What is next for you and your company?
I’m so excited to launch the Catch My Drift Kickstarter campaign to raise funds and produce a new version with all new cards. Back by popular demand! We have some great rewards for backers including creating your own custom cards, submit your urban lingo and much more. We are hoping to get funding to reach our stretch goal of producing a Catch My Drift game app as well.
Also, our second annual International Bites Gala is Aug. 22 in Chicago. Meet and greet with our featured chef “The Naked Chef” Jacques Laventure from MTV’s “Snack Off.” Admission to International Bites also grants you admission to the Perfectly Imperfect Expo where there will be a panel of successful small business owners sharing business blunders and how they overcame. Not to mention cocktails, beauty lounge, shopping with vendors, red carpet, fashion show and after-party.
For more information on the Catch My Drift?!? board game and Just Play Entertainment monthly events, go to http://www.justplaychicago.com. If you would like to donate to the Catch My Drift Kickstarter account, go to https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/catchmydriftcardgame/catch-my-drift. Also, if you would like to attend the International Bites Gala and the Perfectly Imperfect Expo, go to http://ibitesgala.eventbrite.com.