Founded Blasters Inc offering corporate Nerf experiences
Role & Responsibilities
Business owner, conceptualization, market research, service development and testing, branding, writing and editing, website design and development, print and digital collateral design.
A neighborhood kid was showing off his new Nerf blaster last fall. It launched soft Nerf balls fast, far and accurately, not like the dart versions I was accustomed to. Later that night I googled Nerf Rival blasters and saw they were about to release a full auto electronic version. “This would be so fun to play in an office with coworkers” was the next thought that came to mind. The concept for Blasters Inc was born.
The core concept of Blasters Inc is offering premium, in-office Nerf experiences for corporate clients.
The beginnings of the business involved at least two things going on concurrently:
- Research and Testing: To my knowledge there’s nothing like this idea in the marketplace so incrementally validating the idea was essential to minimizing financial risk. At first, this meant purchasing just a single blaster and confirming my suspicions that it was unlike any Nerf blaster I had used before. From here testing grew until it was eventually full scale Nerf games at rented facilities with friends and strangers with feedback sessions following. These were play-prototyping sessions where players were encouraged to offer feedback between games which we could often implement before the next round.
- Expansion: As testing grew and continued to confirm the concept I expanded and began the other processes necessary to launch a business. This included bringing on an ownership partner to handle sales, engineering game sessions and product presentation, designing marketing assets, and developing a website.
One of the foundational concepts for the business came out of an epiphany I had years ago when working as a photographer. It was the idea that anyone can buy a nice camera and learn how to operate it just as well as I do. The reason I’m a professional photographer is my unique eye and the way I interact with clients. In the same way, with Blasters Inc my mantra is “Anybody can buy and rent out blasters. We provide a premium experience.” Although following this idea initially has meant more expense and time to get the business off the ground I believe it’s going to open doors (larger, more exclusive clients) and make it more difficult for someone to compete with us.
One of the problems we faced was the assumptions people have when they hear the word “Nerf.” Adults automatically think about the dart guns of their childhood or about the blasters their kids play with nowadays. We knew it was going to be important for our marketing to quickly show them this is different, which is why I designed our marketing card to hold a Nerf ball so the potential client can touch it, see it’s soft, and understand it’s not the Nerf of old. The other piece to solving this assumption issue is that we always take a blaster with us on sales calls. In all of our testing, as soon as someone pulls on the switch and sees a stream of balls launching out of the blaster they “get” why it’s so much fun. See the video below for a real life “first try” we captured.
The second issue involves the cultural moment we live in and the language around guns and shooting. I developed the following language we use in all of our communication:
- Gun = blaster
- Trigger = switch
- Ammo = ball
- Fire/shoot = launch
- Shot/hit = tagged
The goal of this language is to move the concept firmly into the “play” category in people’s minds.
A unique, viable business was launched in December, 2019. We’ve already hosted our first session and have just booked our first repeat customer. Future sales outlooks are very positive based on responses to cold calls we’ve made.