Research Foundation News

July 28, 2016

Purdue student startup creates custom board game boxes

sullivan nuggit Sean Sullivan is founder and CEO of Nuggit Games, which makes custom wooden “upgrade boxes” for board games that have outgrown their original boxes. (Purdue Research Foundation photo/Chris Johnson) Download image

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.  – A lifelong love of board games is leading to a business opportunity for a Purdue University senior who is using a laser cutter and wood to create customized boxes for games.

Sean Sullivan, a senior at the Purdue Polytechnic Institute, is the founder and CEO of Nuggit Games, which makes what he calls “upgrade boxes” for board games that often outgrow their original boxes.

His laser-cut wood boxes are made to fit specific games with custom inserts for game pieces, cards, game boards, instructions and all other components including various expansions. Buyers can assemble the pre-cut pieces without any glue, Sullivan said. The pieces are made to interlock.

Sullivan also makes six-sided dice, which can be assembled in the same fashion.

Boxes and dice can include an individual's logos and designs.

The idea was born out of necessity.

“A game that I really like to play is called Carcassonne,” Sullivan said. The tile-based, German-style board game is very popular and has multiple expansions. “I wanted someplace to store all those expansions.”

Sullivan tried plastic bags and other options until he learned online about people using laser-cut boxes as storage options.

“I thought, ‘You know what? If I could find a laser cutter somewhere I bet I could figure that out,’ ” he said.

Sullivan first used the laser cutter available for students at the Artisan and Fabrication Lab in the Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering. He was able to produce sheets of cut wood that could be taken apart and reassembled to create boxes.

"I was pretty happy with the result and started thinking there must be other people with the same need, so I decided to make a business out of it," he said. "Then Nuggit Games was born."

Sullivan uses space in the MatchBOX Coworking Studio in downtown Lafayette, which also has a laser cutter available for entrepreneurs.

Sullivan received assistance from the Purdue Foundry, an entrepreneurship and commercialization accelerator located in the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship in Purdue’s Discovery Park. The group partnered Sullivan with Keith Williams, one of its entrepreneurs in residence.

“He helped me realize things I hadn’t thought of before,” Sullivan said. “I basically started thinking of it as a business. The Purdue Foundry has been really supportive of everything I’ve been doing.”

Officially in the pre-seed stage of his startup, Sullivan has been showcasing his dice and boxes at various locations and events throughout Greater Lafayette. He will also be at Gen-Con Aug. 4-7 in Indianapolis.

He’s been selling limited numbers of boxes on Etsy, an online platform where people can buy handmade and vintage goods. He also has dice available at Merlin’s Beard, a downtown Lafayette business for people to gather and play board games.

In August, Nuggit Games will begin a dice campaign in which customers will be asked to specify designs to go on dice, which Sullivan will create and deliver before Christmas.

After that, Sullivan plans to use Kickstarter, an online platform for crowdfunding, for the creation of a large number of boxes in January.

Sullivan hopes his business will expand from the popularity of board games on Kickstarter.

“Gaming overall on Kickstarter raised $133.6 million in 2015. That’s a 76 percent growth from 2014,” Sullivan said. “And board games actually out-fund video games on Kickstarter.”

Details about the various campaigns can be found at www.nuggitgames.com

About the Purdue Polytechnic Institute

The Purdue Polytechnic Institute offers degrees in eight Indiana communities in addition to the main campus at West Lafayette. The degrees are designed to offer relevant knowledge, provide local impact, and foster lasting results. The Statewide locations are a direct extension of the main campus. Each Purdue Polytechnic location has a non-Purdue host campus, which offers non-Purdue courses for the offered degrees. These partnerships provide a richer experience for the student and a slightly different process for applying, registering and paying for college.

About Purdue Foundry
The Purdue Foundry is an entrepreneurship and commercialization accelerator in Discovery Park's Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship whose professionals help Purdue innovators create startups. Managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, the Purdue Foundry received the 2014 Incubator Network of the Year from the National Business Incubation Association for its work in entrepreneurship. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at foundry@prf.org

Writer: Curt Slyder, 765-588-3342, caslyder@prf.org

Source: Sean Sullivan, 765-216-5554, nuggitgames@gmail.com


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