Name: Robert Poole.
Age: Not known.
'Foolish' small business idea: A board game about sports rules, called, 'Rules of the Game'.
Start-up Capital: He collected $530,000 from the residents of his town, where he delivers the post.
How small business idea was Launched: Robert Poole wanted to produce and market the game himself. So he set up a company for people to buy stock which gave him the finance. 300 people put in a total of $530,000. Robert designed the prototype.
Next, the game was laid out on the computer. 'Rules of the Game' had to be printed, and trademarks had to be paid for. Robert set up an 800 free-phone number and began selling the game through a network of small merchants. Then Kmart got interested and the game took off.
Sales: Kmart sold 20,000 boxes of the board game over the Christmas period, in a trial run in 900 of their stores. It's now being sold in 2,100 of their stores all over the U.S.
Earnings: The game retails at $29.95. Earnings unknown.
Coaching youngsters in baseball during his free time, gave Postman, Robert Poole, an idea for a board game. Living in the small town of Clayton, North Carolina, with a population of 8,000, he was friends with most of the people on his mail delivery route.
Knowing he coached baseball, he would be asked about incidents that had occurred in their kid's games. Robert would try to answer their questions. Then it became a game with his workmates, which made Robert decide to invent a game about sports rules for all the sports fans out there.
Mary, his mother, helped him design a prototype in 1993. Robert came up with 580 questions, divided into 4 sports - baseball, basketball, football and golf. The players roll a dice, then answer questions, like they do in Trivial Pursuit. But it looked as though the project would go no further, because he couldn't raise the money to produce and market the game, on his $36,000 a year salary. He also had a wife and two boys, Ryan 7 and Corey, 3, to consider.
Along his delivery route, Robert Poole began telling his 300 customers about the game he'd designed. Amazingly, they thought it was such a good idea, they wanted to back him. They bought stock in a company Robert set up, in amounts ranging from $1,000 to $50,000.
After selling Rules of the Game, through a network of small merchants, through an 800 freephone number, Kmart became interested. A Christmas try-out in 900 of their stores, resulted in sales of 20,000. Robert Poole is still building his business.