Two dads who bonded at the school gates have invented a bestselling board game that reunites families virtually for a TV-style quiz, making nearly $1 million in advance sales for Christmas.
Developed during the pandemic, fast-paced trivia game Outsmarted! has been dubbed "perfect for lockdowns" by its creators Stuart Nice and Paul Davis as it allows loved ones to play together virtually.
Watching their children connect through video games inspired the pals to devise their own board game. They raised $270,000 through the crowdfunding website for new businesses, Kickstarter, to launch it.
Perfectly poised to hit the market in time for “families enjoying a Zoom Christmas," former City financier Paul, now a stay-at-home dad to sons Clark and Luca, and holiday company owner Stuart – dad to Joseph and Alessandra, and stepdad to Olly – also say it is the first game to be sold through Facebook.
"We already had the concept, but the first lockdown gave us the opportunity to turn an idea into reality, as there was no reason to go out, so we worked on it day and night," Stuart said.
The go-getting dads first started throwing around ideas for a board game they could invent together in 2019, settling on the name Outsmarted! and the concept that it should be device-driven in the autumn.
Stuart Nice, working on board game 'Outsmarted!' PA REAL LIFE
Stuart, who previously developed the computer game "3D Pets", then recruited his dad, Kevin, a retired computer programmer to the team.
He designed an initial version of the software, which was completed in February 2020.
Needing backers, in September 2020, the dads launched the idea on Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform particularly popular for people creating games. Offering a copy of the completed item in exchange for funding.
From left, Rachel Eyres (front), Layla Mills, Luca, Ollie, Stuart Nice and Paul Davis. PA REAL LIFE
Figuring that they needed $27,000 to fund the project, they were amazed when they smashed their target in nine hours and raised $60,000 in a day.
But that was the tip of the iceberg, with the pair gaining 6,264 supporters within a month and raising $262,000 – almost 10 times what they'd hoped for – through the site.
Stuart said the funds raised through Kickstarter paid for software development, designing the physical game board and advertising.
“We had this bad looking but working version in our hands in the spring, so then we went out to start looking for developers," he said.
Rachel Eyres, with 10-year-old son Clark and seven-year-old Luca. PA REAL LIFE
But with people staying in, the pair realized they had to get serious – and fast.
Prototype in hand, they began approaching designers and developers to turn their game, inspired by the fun of TV quiz shows like Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, into reality.
Now boasting advance internet sales of nearly $1 million, the game – which will only be available online until May next year when it will also go into high street stores – looks set to reap the dads a substantial reward.
10-year-old Clark (left) with Ollie, 10. PA REAL LIFE
Still, they insist their friendship – since meeting for the first time in the summer of 2018, at the local primary school, where Stuart was dropping Aless off and Paul was taking his children – rather than their entrepreneurial talent, is the main reason for their success.
“Fathers are a rarity in the school playground at dropping off and kicking out time," joked Stuart, who started playing golf once a fortnight with Paul in 2018, who he was soon bumping into all over Kent.
“It was like serendipity – I'd see Paul everywhere," Stuart laughed. “My mum would phone and say she'd seen him at the shop."
Paul Davis (front left) with sons Clark, 10, Luca, 7, and wife Rachel. PA REAL LIFE
"I began to think he lived at Costcutters," he added.
Soon their two families started socializing, bringing Paul's wife Rachel Eyres, Stuart's partner Layla Mills, and their various children together.
In July 2019 they even enjoyed a holiday for nine in Moraira, southern Spain, where Stuart runs holiday villa lets.
Paul Davis' sons Clark, 10, (back) and Luca, 7. PA REAL LIFE
Stuart, whose two children are from a previous relationship, has since described Paul, who retired early after working for 20 years in the City, as “more selfless than any dad I've ever known."
And their mutual respect made for a dream partnership.
Still stunned by the sheer extent of the positive reaction to Outsmarted!
“We've done it as quickly as we possibly can," Steuart said.
'Outsmarted!', Paul Davis and Stuart Nice's new interactive board game. PA REAL LIFE / NATHALIE CROUCH
“Most board games take months and months to be completed and have a long, involved process, which we wanted to skip," he said.
“We're not a huge conglomerate, so we've been able to be really agile in the development, although I am constantly surprised by the amount there is to do."
And the dads believe it is ideally suited to the pandemic's tiered restrictions, as its app-based technology allows players to compete in the same game from different homes – meaning families can play together virtually, despite not being able to enjoy the festivities at the same address.
Paul Davis' 10-year-old son Clark. PA REAL LIFE
"We're also the first board game to have ever sold via Facebook," Paul added.
Meanwhile, their families came together again in March 2020 to film a video advert of them playing Outsmarted!. The game has more than 3,000 interactive questions, alongside a traditional board game, with 'geniuses' from history, like Leonardo Da Vinci, used as playing pieces.
“When we made the video advert, we were playing the real game," said Paul.
'Outsmarted!', Paul Davis and Stuart Nice's new interactive board game. PA REAL LIFE
"You get pretty competitive and, luckily, everyone loves it," he added.
Next, Paul and Stuart hope to build on their idea by offering different quiz subjects and making the game available for different devices through an app store.
With online orders now winging their way to the first UK buyers, Stuart said the response has been overwhelming.
Paul Davis (left) and Stuart Nice. PA REAL LIFE
"We get hundreds of messages a day from people who want a copy, saying things like, 'My Christmas will be wrecked without this game,'" he said.
"We couldn't be prouder or happier."
For more information visit www.outsmarted.co.uk