Inspiration can come in various forms. Nature, music — even parties and bars.
And that’s how inspiration struck for Scarsdale High School graduates Ben Jacobs and David Hennessey.
The two produced and are selling Power Hour Tower, a twist on traditional Jenga, as Jacobs described it.
“We noticed a lot of Jenga sets that were scribbled on with new rules,” Jacobs said. “We went online and bought the existing versions that were on the market.”
They soon realized there was room for a new game on the market.
“We decided to come up with 48 unique games that could be on the bottom of each block,” Jacobs explained. “The game is basically played like normal Jenga, the objective is you pull a block, and on the block, there’s a challenge.”
Though the two work full-time jobs, Jacobs at e-commerce marketplace jet.com and Hennessey as a manager at Pelham-based Rockwells, they were interested in earning extra money.
“After we did some testing and asked around for a prototype, bringing it to bars and [testing] the market, we saw we were filling a hole and people wanted this product,” Jacobs said.
After their research didn’t turn up any other high-quality version of the modified Jenga game, the two innovators saved up to begin production and before long, the new product took off.
To date, they have sold nearly $40,000 worth of units online.
And they’ve just begun.
“We think it’ll continue to grow,” Jacobs said. “I think our first year revenue will be double that. We expect to be profitable within the next few months when we have a manufacturer in China.”
Currently, their manufacturer charges between $18 and $20 per piece, but Jacobs said moving production to China might cut costs and increase profitability.
The game is sold online at the game’s website, powerhourtower.com, or on Amazon.
But the two have bigger plans.
Jacobs said he hopes to see the game move into stores, such as big box retailers and Urban Outfitters, which carry games like “What do you Meme” and “Who’s Most Likely To.”
“We think it has that kind of potential because what we’ve seen thus far is pretty crazy growth,” Jacobs said. “If we continue to pump more money into it, there’s no limit.”
The game’s success so far has exceeded the entrepreneurs’ expectations.
“We had no intention of ever being in the game space at all,” Jacobs said. “I have always been looking for a product that would be a good first step for being an entrepreneur.”
The company sells about 150 games each month, but Jacobs said he anticipates that number to grow as production increases and more units hit the internet later this fall.
“Once we’re in stores, we can develop more toys and possibly partner with a more established company,” Jacobs said.
For now, the pair remains focused on the current version of Power Hour Tower, but they are cooking up plans to expand the game in a similar fashion to Cards Against Humanity, a popular, vaguely profane game that has spun off numerous versions around the world.
The two SHS class of 2011 classmates said they have already learned a great deal from their entrepreneurial venture.
“We learned the power of the internet and how you can target your advertisements,” Jacobs said. “We sold [the game] to people in the middle of nowhere in all 50 states. By leveraging social media and Google, you can optimize your advertisements.”
Hennessey said he’s learned to take in and listen to feedback from friends and family about the game.
“We’re trying to make it more of a game that a larger audience would use,” he said. “We took a lot of feedback.”
Hennessey graduated from Cornell University with a degree in entrepreneurship. Though the classes may have helped a bit, Hennessey said he mainly learned through trial and error.
As innovators, they had to learn what tools were available to them.
One helpful tool is the internet. Another is an organized supply chain, which, although complicated and difficult to nail down, once established, helps make the process seamless.
And, they learned the power of using freelancers.
Rather than bringing people on board as staff members, the business partners vetted freelancers to help with artwork, digital marketing and legal advice for a patent.
The game is currently sold out, but Jacobs said it should be restocked in November.