The Year in Review
Keeping moving ahead and always trying to improve can be great for creating successes, but I am also a firm believer in taking pause to review where we've come - the end of the year and other anniversaries are good for this.
2014 in Review
In the first quarter (Q1) we were finalizing details of our lease and Kickstarter launch including interviews with folks who had run several successful Kickstarter projects and non-profit community centers of their own. The most important decision we made was to tie the signing of the lease to the Kickstarter itself. If the public didn't support our idea enough to fund it, then we wouldn't move forward. *Spoiler alert* We're so glad you did support us! :-)
In Q2 we launched this Kickstarter project with great trepidation and excitement. The wonderful support from Omaha Code School for using their space for public game nights, the press, and word of mouth helped us be successful in raising much-needed startup funds! It was the first time that I got to be the public face and meet with the public about the project we had been working on for a couple of years. We signed the lease before the end of the Kickstarter and quickly moved forward with construction/remodeling.
Hundreds of hours of hard work from our amazing volunteers went into to cleaning and prepping our space in the summer of 2014.
In Q3 we put in a lot of "sweat equity" by cleaning every part of the building multiple times, building shelves, tables, and moving the cataloged board games over. We hired our founding managers, Jessica and Andrew, and spent a lot of money on items needed for our first official day of opening, September 2, 2014. We started with a paid staff of 11, 10 volunteer staff, and dozens of volunteers to ensure every day we were open that we had free game demonstrations. As far as lessons of running a business - in almost every area of our budget, we went over what we had planned. During our first week open the unending rain showed that our roof/walls were leaking, and the beautiful red Spanish tile was replaced with the more commonplace gray shingles (I'm a bit sentimental). We went through multiple point-of-sale systems before settling on one that met our unique needs of having tabs and memberships. We couldn't enforce checking out games in our system even though this was built into the website. We learned more than we ever thought possible about what makes good coffee, beer, and wine. Then we cleaned some more!
In Q4 we figured out schedules, got lots of feedback, and worked on bringing in new food options. We received lots of great local and national press, and for each month we had successful charity events raising more than $4,000 for the Children's Miracle Network, Food Bank for the Heartland, and Doctors Without Borders. Our Friday evenings got so busy that one of our game associates had to become a temporary bouncer not allowing folks in until some left due to reaching our capacity. And over the past week we've been busier than ever with families meeting over the holidays to play games together.
UNMC staff (& family) that cared for ebola patients joined the fight while playing Pandemic and raising funds for Doctors Without Borders last month.
What's ahead in 2015...
First, we're changing our hours! While we want to be a good neighborhood coffee house, we weren't getting early morning visitors to justify our 7am opening. There was also demand to stay open later. Here they are, effective immediately:
- Open: 9am
- Close: 11pm, 1am FRI & SAT
- Closed Mondays
We also hope the new hours will be easier to remember. We will be open for some Mondays that are holidays like Memorial and Labor Days, and Mondays will still be available for private events. The only holidays we're closed for are Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Second, we are hoping to finalize our federal charity status as we separate our nonprofit Spielbound organization from the cafe.
We'll also announce new community partnerships and charity events as we work with teachers, parents, and educators about the importance of play and games in all of our lives. We are even sponsoring a movie about games in education at Filmstreams in March. We'll also start creating new online content including in-depth game reviews - in print and videos.
As you can see, much has happened in 2014 and there is much ahead in our future. Thank you again for your support and all of us here at Spielbound wish you a very Happy New Year!
Playing 6-player Catan with family and friends over the holidays. I'm negotiating with my wife - getting married was my highlight of 2014! :-)