Rolling the dice: Parachute man discovers business opportunity while gaming with friends
Dungeons and Dragons might conjure thoughts of mythological creatures, fantastical — albeit fictional — battles and basements, but a young man from Battlement Mesa looked beyond the tabletop and found entrepreneurial inspiration.
Alec Studebaker, a 20-year-old tabletop gaming enthusiast, struggled with traditional academic structure.
He preferred to learn at his own pace, which often left him bored in class and wondering what he would do after high school.
While working at Domino’s Pizza, he discovered a passion for management and a hidden talent for balancing inventories.
“I realized I can work for a company and always work under somebody,” Studebaker said. “Or, I can start my own company and have the freedom to do and be whatever I want.”
Influenced by Timothy Ferriss’ book, “The Four Hour Work Week,” Studebaker started looking into building an online retail presence, but the product was still a missing piece of the startup puzzle.
“The book tells you to go with what you know,” he said. “And I thought, well I’ve been playing D&D and Magic the Gathering for almost 11 years, so if I know anything, it’s got to be that.”
Around Christmas, he was gift shopping for a fellow gamer and decided on a dice bag to help his friend manage a growing collection.
“When I gave him the bag, his eyes lit up, and he was so happy,” Studebaker said. “I thought, this is something I could sell.”
The adventure begins
Born and raised in Ohio, Studebaker moved to Garfield County about 6 years ago with his mother.
“I missed Ohio a lot when I first moved here,” he recalled. “But, now the mountains are home. We still have family back east, and when I go visit, I miss my mountains.”
Around 11 years old, Studebaker wandered into a game shop looking for a card game.
“I saw these guys playing this interesting game at one of the tables,” he said. “They explained they were playing D&D and invited me to join them. They drew me up a character sheet and ran me through a campaign. I was hooked.”
Even after high school, Studebaker met weekly with his D&D group, expanding into other tabletop games like Magic the Gathering along the way.
Unfortunately, the nearest gaming shops to Battlement Mesa are about an hour away, which makes game shopping more quest than errand.
Armed with knowledge acquired through years of gaming and having discovered a niche demographic, Studebaker began the search for a supply chain.
“I think what sets me apart from other companies selling dice bags and gaming equipment is that I buy my supplies first, then sell,” he explained. “Many companies wait for the customer to buy the product before placing the order with their suppliers in China.”
The process can add precious days or even weeks to the order process in an economy that awards the speediest delivery. On the flip side, Studebaker buys first and sells second, guaranteeing his customers have their products in hand shortly after placing their own orders.
“I also stand by my product, so I offer my customers a lifetime guarantee,” he said.
Doing business as the “Dungeon Masters Best Friend,” Studebaker’s main product is the DMs Big Bag of Fun.
DM is an abbreviation of Dungeon Master, which is the term for a player who runs a game of D&D.
He also sells smaller than average dice marketed as pixie dice.
“The bag has seven pockets — one for each of the seven types of dice you use in D&D — and is made of a felt-type material,” he said, holding open a plush bag about 10-inches in diameter. “When I got my hands on it, I knew it was the right one.”
Founded two months ago, Studebaker’s business acumen is being forged in the fire of a global pandemic, but so far, it’s been smooth sailing.
“I haven’t sold as many bags as I hoped, but I’ve sold more than I expected,” he said. “I don’t really know what it’s like to run a business without COVID-19 hanging over my head, but it hasn’t really affected me too much.”
Recently adding the pixie dice to his inventory, Studebaker is already exploring options for expanding his inventory, and he said his five-year goal is to establish a brick-and-mortar location in Parachute.
“Right now, I’m testing the waters with the dice bags and building customer confidence in my products,” Studebaker said. “But, I’d like to have my own place soon. A location people can come together and share their passions for games in a safe and loving environment.”
Visit Dungeon Masters Best Friend at http://www.dungeonmastersbf.com for more information about Studebaker and his products.
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