Last Sunday (25 August 2013) saw my clients at Linkee, the world’s first crowd-sourced trivia game, turn down £50,000 of investment from veteran Dragon, Duncan Bannatyne, and walk away from BBC2’s Dragon’s Den empty-handed. Since filming, the game has attracted numerous nationwide stockists, including John Lewis, Hamleys, Beales, Lakeland and Firebox.com, and is set to be a top seller this Christmas.
“We like to think of Linkee as the ‘black sheep’ of quiz games,” comments co-inventor, Dean Tempest, “so in a way it’s not surprising that we walked away from the Dragon’s Den empty-handed – by choice. Duncan’s offer was generous but we weren’t prepared to hand over so much of our business in return for his help. As it happens, even though none of us is from the toy industry, we’re managing to make Linkee a massive success without the backing of a Dragon. Linkee now has pride of place on John Lewis shelves nationwide as well as being stocked by Hamleys, Lakeland, Beales, online giant Firebox.com and a wealth of independent toy stores across the UK.”
Just a year ago, Linkee was merely a prototype in an office drawer, dreaming of fame and superstardom. Brought to life by Dean (26), Tris (42) and Ben (40), who met at work, Linkee is a super-simple shouty-outy quiz game with a twist. The twist being you don’t win by answering the questions but by working out what the answers have in common. For example, if the answers were John, Paul, George and Ringo, the Linkee would be, The Beatles. Simple, huh?
Over a third of the questions are written by people who have actually played the game, so they’re topical, relevant and fun. Linkee creators are rewarded with ‘fame from their name in the game’ with their name and where they are from printed on their question card. So players can also put their heads together to create their own questions and visit www.playlinkee.com to submit them for the next edition, potentially winning themselves a treat in the process.
Team Linkee evolved the game through ‘Linkee parties’ with colleagues, friends and families, before taking it on tour to gift fairs across the UK, playing with and selling direct to consumers. People who played the game loved the game and Linkee was selling out at every show. Last December, in a quest to keep things as innovative as ever, Team Linkee launched the world’ first bike game delivery service in London – the Linkee Bikee Deliveree service – using ‘Boris Bikes’ to get Linkees to desks across the Capital in time for Christmas.
Then, in March this year, they entered the Dragon’s Den seeking investment to take things to the next level. Dean explains, “We thought investment from a BBC Dragon would be the perfect thing to help us grow Linkee and get it noticed by the big stores. But, although Duncan recognised Linkee’s potential, we thought his demand for 40% of the company was too much and so we decided to continue going it alone. We’d come this far, plus I’d already given up my full time job to see Linkee through to global superstardom, so why not?!”
Armed with fantastic customer feedback and a proven appetite for the game, Team Linkee then began approaching retailers. Six months after manufacturing their first game, Linkee entered John Lewis stores nationwide and is stocked by Hamleys, Lakeland, Beales and Firebox.com. “Linkee proves that you don’t necessarily need a Dragon to succeed when you have an outstanding game that’s destined to become a household name. In fact, you don’t even need a desk – Ben and Tris still have full time jobs so we’re effectively building the Linkee brand from a cafe near their office.”
Linkee, RRP £19.99 and suitable for ages 12+, is available to buy from John Lewis, Hamleys, Lakeland, Beales, Firebox.com, a number of independent high street retailers across the UK and direct from www.playlinkee.com.