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Objects! Podcast: Board Games and 3PLs

A man with a beard and sunglasses pointing his finger while discussing board games on a podcast.

ShipDaddy founder Joe Spisak interviewed on Objects! Podcast

Objects! with ShipHero talks with the entrepreneurs, innovators and idealists that put items on the shelf and bring packages to your doorstep. From hot sauce to board games, toothbrushes to frying pans, startup side-gigs to enterprise players, join ShipHero founder, Nicholas Daniel-Richards, as he demystifies the manufacturing and logistics behind some of our most beloved household objects, with transformational ideas that are guaranteed to make you say, why didn’t I think of that?. This fast-paced and intriguing podcast covers thousands of travelled miles in less than an hour, so next time you’re standing in your local store and see a label that says ‘Made in , you’ll know just how it got into your hands.

Objects! with ShipHero discusses in detail what it takes to transform an intangible idea into a tangible object that is designed, sold, manufactured, shipped, and delivered in the digital world. If you are a successful entrepreneur looking to grow or an aspiring innovator with an idea, Objects! with ShipHero provides a detailed, 360′ exploration with the masterminds behind modern ecommerce and shipping solutions.  So settle in, buckle up, and prepare to get objectified! … no wait, not that. Get ready to say “I objects!”… we’ll work on it. Available on iTunes and at this link.

Episode Introduction

In Episode 2 of Objects! with ShipHero, we uncover how Joe Spisak and his close circle of friends rode an overnight board game success into becoming a business mogul in the fulfillment industry by “just getting it done”. Joe Spisak is credited as the creator of board games Dicey and OK Boomer!, and founder of the Third Party Logistics (3PL) company ShipDaddy (unrelated).

(By the way, see if you can spot all of the board game titles hidden in the article)

Start on GO

In 2015, a recently-graduated Joe Spisak began to showcase his genius early on when he and his housemate Logan decided to stay on their college campus for an additional year, living the college life without the college classes. But in a cruel twist of fate, the pair quickly discovered that their brilliant endeavor had one serious flaw.

“We were basically getting fed up playing beer pong, flip cup, quarters…. You know the traditional college games.” says Joe Spisak in his conversation with ShipHero founder Nicholas Daniel-Richards.

So instead of suffering through another horribly monotonous night of flipping cups, they decided to flip the script by creating their own drinking game: The Wheel of Fun, prototype and precursor to their now wildly-popular game Dicey.

The game concept was simple: spin a wheel and land on a color, then pick a card from the color category, and finally, complete whatever outrageous and laugh-out-loud funny suggestion on the card.

The game was an instant hit, with friends and fellow bar patrons basically begging Joe to play The Wheel of Fun nightly. After some intense product testing and feedback from these unfocused focus groups, a single die soon replaced the wheel of misfortune and the game was henceforth referred to as Dicey — sensibly due to the fact that it may get you into some dicey situations, oh and the dice.

Turning a Board Game Idea into a Business

Fast forward to 2017 and Joe had moved on to an impressive technical corporate job; however, the uproarious success of Dicey still rattled around Joe’s skull just like the whispers of his collegiate legacy still rattled the halls of his alma-mater. He couldn’t risk this opportunity passing him by, so after one quick call to Logan the Dicey duo were back in business.

As it turned out, developing a game from scratch was no trivial pursuit. Working with Joe’s sister, a talented UX designer, the team developed a brand, a box, and detailed design specs — all the necessary components to manufacture a game. Next step was to raise capital and find a supplier.

If raising capital was the easy part, securing $21,000 on Kickstarter in just 30 days, then finding a supplier was certainly the fun part. To meet with high-quality board game manufacturers, Joe and Logan attended Gen Con, the largest tabletop board game convention in North America and held in Indianapolis — just how big is Gen Con? Joe tells us that the convention reserves Lucas Oil Stadium, the NFL stadium of the Indianapolis Colts, to play the quarter-finals of Settlers of Catan.

With both the funds and manufacturer secured, the remaining topic was fulfillment: how to physically get the product into the hands of the customers. Joe and Logan went with a traditional fulfillment company, and with all the pieces in place (pun intended), orders for Dicey started piling in due in part to effective social media marketing as well as significant exposure from being on the Barstool Sports’ Big Brain Competition — yes, that is where you recognize them from. 

The success of Dicey was undeniable, and it actually became the second-most popular board game invented in Pennsylvania, a close second behind the game Monopoly. But as their order volume rose, so did problems with their fulfillment experience.

ShipDaddy is Born

“What was the first scary moment you experienced between the orders coming in and the actual fulfillment process?” asks Nicholas in their podcast conversation. 

I think the scary moment was working with fulfillment providers and sending them emails and waiting 72 hours and praying to God to get a hold of someone that understood the nuances of your account. You spend two years building this brand, creating this ecommerce company, and then the whole back end of the business, the most important part of taking the game and delivering it to the customers was completely out of your hands. And what blew my mind, was not only the lack of support… but also the lack of customization you can do.” – Joe Spisak

Customers were complaining about a poor unboxing experience and Dicey’s success was being compromised by subpar fulfillment service. About a year and a half into selling their product, the team had already gone through three different 3PLs, which is a staggering figure in the ecommerce world considering the time and money it takes to move freights of inventory from one warehouse to another. 

They were frustrated that seemingly simple modifications to the fulfillment process, like including a pamphlet in the box, were impossible; not to mention, the whole process felt highly impersonal and many fulfillment agents had no clue about the nuances of their account. What they needed was a white-glove fulfillment service with trustworthy and caring people, and when you want something done right you better do it yourself. 

ShipDaddy had its first warehouse in a 800 sq-ft room in an abandoned town morgue that Joe got in exchange for completing a website project for the local realtor. They used what they learnt from their past 3PL providers to implement best practices and, most importantly, hired people that aligned to their mission, values, and dedication to high-end service. They vertically integrated up the value chain and were successfully fulfilling their own product.

ShipDaddy officially became a 3PL when other brands approached them that were having the exact same trouble with their fulfillment experience: impersonal and inflexible. It seemed that ShipDaddy held a local monopoly on the “Handle with Care” business model. As for their growth strategy, they focused on solving problems as they came in, and continually developed their capabilities to meet the needs of their customers. Primarily, they have moved into the Print on Demand, Merchandising, and Digital Media Creation spaces in addition to ecommerce fulfillment.

Final Question: Where did the name and image for ShipDaddy come from?

One of Joe’s first hires was a close friend named Brady, who earned the title Brady the ShipDaddy, half in part due to his military nickname “Dad” that he earned by caring for other soldiers like a father, and the other half in part for his stellar work ethic in the warehouse. When it came time to create a business brand, Joe thought it a no-brainer to name it after a friend that embodies the spirit and values of their 3PL company.

Current Update

Joe tells us that ShipDaddy just hired their 20th employee, and they have since moved on from the morgue to a 10,000 sq-ft warehouse and will soon be moving to a 140,000 sq-ft building across the road. Their roadmap for the next year includes opening a West Coast location, acquiring the right customers that fit with their business model, further expanding their capabilities, and hiring more fantastic people that can vibe with Brady and the bunch.

Last year, 2020 (feels awesome saying that), Joe created a new board game called OK Boomer! that is fun for up to three generations. ShipDaddy is proof that a smart group of people and an idea can become an entrepreneurial success.

Do you have an idea that’s been gnawing at you? You are living in an era that is full of ways to convert that idea into a viable business. The reality is there’s no magical five step program, and we’re all making this up. However, there’s lots of tools, resources, and fantastically passionate and smart people that we can all learn from who are building all sorts of new brands and yes, ShipHero gets to do the shipping.  

If you have an object that you want to profile, send a note to Nicholas Daniel-Richards to pitch@shiphero.com – we’re always on the lookout for a new object to cover. For more info, episode details, and links to the stuff we discuss, visit https://shiphero.com/podcast.

Listen to the podcast episode here.

The Objects! With ShipHero podcast is brought to you by ShipHero, the leader in ecommerce order fulfillment services.

Special thanks to our friends at Shiphero for their insights on this topic.
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