Super U Podcast | From 1 to 60 Million: The Story of Pictionary
In today’s episode, Erik speaks with Rob Angel, the inventor of Pictionary. In 1985, a waiter from Seattle in his mid-twenties created the charades-inspired word-guessing game that has since become the bestselling board game in the world. Pictionary has seen over 38,000,000 games sold worldwide in over 60 countries. Today, Rob is an entrepreneur, explorer, investor, philanthropist, sought-after speaker and author. Erik and Rob talk about Rob’s journey to inventing Pictionary as well as his book, Game Changer: The Story of Pictionary and How I Turned a Simple Idea into the Bestselling Board Game in the World.
5x #1 Bestselling Author and Motivational Speaker Erik Qualman has performed in over 55 countries and reached over 50 million people this past decade. He was voted the 2nd Most Likable Author in the World behind Harry Potter’s J.K. Rowling.
Need a sneak peek? Below are the main takeaways from the episode.
From 1 to 60 Million: The Story of Pictionary with Founder Rob Angel:
“…The selling of the game was actually easy. It was the licensing part. That was the head-scratcher. The life-changing moment. The everything to us, because you’re absolutely right. We couldn’t scale anything very popular in Seattle. We kept it local. And then we started expanding and all of a sudden, we launched in June by February of the following year, what’s that? Seven months, eight months. By the time we get to that we’re at 10,000 games 20,000 games, and not even close to keeping up with demand. So all the big game companies Parker, brother, Mattel, Bill Bradley, they all say, Oh, we’re gonna licenses. So we had a meeting with Milton Bradley. And I’m 26 years old by now. I’m making $500 a month. I’m driving a 10-year-old crappy car, living in the squalor of an apartment, and milk Bradley comes to us and they go, we’re gonna license your game. Okay. So we thought the biggest company in the world for a reason let’s talk to them. So they come, we go to the meeting. And they show us a game that they’re going to redesign to repackage pictures. We’re gonna wait a minute, that’s not the energy. That’s not the essence of the game. We know what works. We know what we’re trying to scale here. energy and fun. They were looking at it from a different angle. We said, you know, we need the product packaging, just the way it is. Let’s, if you can do that, though. We can move forward with this shirt. They give us the biggest royalty rate they’ve ever given. We’re looking at the contract. They’ve given what they said they would the marketing guarantees, the marketing controls, advertising guarantees, but nowhere in the contract is able to touch the packaging without our approval. We say no, no, no, wait a minute, we need that. And by the way, when I’m looking at the royalty rate, I’m retiring… but you know, by the time I’m looking at the contract, I see the money. I’m going, you know, I’m buying stuff. I’m buying cars and houses and you know, going to Costco and buying stuff. I don’t even like need, who cares? I’m just buying all kinds of stuff. And so when the contract didn’t have that one aspect to it, we go we need that. So we can’t give it to you am 26 And all this crap. No plan B. Nobody waiting in the wings. Were slogging it out. We’re not we run the risk of complete and total failure because other games have started to come onto the market. We still said no. It was not right. deal for us. Rather than just take the money and run and hope and pray. We said no. We trusted the universe to have our back. Back then it was like What have we done? You know, that night when I see the product? Well, I protected you. You know, baby, it’s okay Pictionary. The next morning at 7 am, I’m shipping games going, “God you son of a gun. I mean, come on.”
But it was like the right thing to do. And then two months later, because we stayed true to our convictions, stood to our attention to our, our intuition telling us not to do the deal. We did sign with another company, got a bigger royalty rate, all the guarantees, and made a lot more money.”
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Connect with Rob Angel:
In 1985, ROB ANGEL was a 26-year-old waiter from Seattle. With no previous game experience, he created the phenomenally successful and iconic board game Pictionary. In 4 short years, it was the biggest selling board game in the world. For the next 15 years, Angel shepherded Pictionary to distribution in 60 countries with over 38 million Pictionary games sold, before selling the brand to Mattel, Inc. in 2001.
Recently Rob released his book “Game Changer” The Story of Pictionary and How I Turned a Simple Idea into the Bestselling Board Game in the World.
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The Super U Podcast is hosted by #1 bestselling author and Motivational Speaker Erik Qualman.