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Community Highlights: Meet Brad Michael of YoreBoard

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brad Michael.

Hi Brad, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
After quitting my software development job of ten years, I finally had enough free time to build myself a set of cornhole boards that matched my love for the game. I wanted to test my woodworking skills and I knew that I wanted to embed LEDs in the boards. After some spit-balling, it dawned on me, “Wouldn’t it be sweet if the LEDs helped keep score?”

I scoured the internet, looking for anything that could interact with my LEDs. To my astonishment, there was absolutely nothing to be found. I thought to myself, “I’m an engineer, I can figure this out. How hard could it be?” (Thinking it would take me a month or so.)

After two years and thousands of programming hours, 20 circuit board iterations, and five prototypes, I finally have something that I’m incredibly excited to share with the community.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Where do I start? This has been quite the rabbit hole, to say the least.

At UCLA, I studied Electrical Engineering, but my focus was on Software Engineering.

I had to relearn a lot and teach myself all about microcontrollers and circuit board design. Obviously, with 20 versions of circuit boards, there have been a ton of challenges and learning opportunities. I will say though that it’s been incredibly rewarding seeing everything get better and better every day.

My professional experience was as an application architect. I designed and built a ton of really powerful web and mobile applications to facilitate data collection, management and reporting for an environmental company for ten years. Those programming skills definitely lent themselves to developing this technology, but I still had to teach myself the nuances of iOS, Android and microcontroller development. My web skills were also tailored to utilitarian solutions, creating a consumer-facing website demanded a different angle of attack.

Getting the boards to talk to each other has also been a major hurdle. Bluetooth isn’t exactly plug and play, especially when you’re trying to use relatively inexpensive Bluetooth modules that were developed overseas.

Procurement of all of the electronics and other materials is a real challenge. Searching, communicating with overseas suppliers, and balancing cost and reliability can be extremely trying.

Fortunately, I took computer-aided drafting in college and have done a fair amount of DIY projects with it. This has been invaluable in designing both the boards and all of the 3D-printed components that I use.

My first five prototypes were all built by hand, it quickly became apparent that that just wasn’t practical for scaling. I purchased a DIY CNC kit and taught myself all about CNC. I’ve also made a number of enhancements to the machine including vacuum mounting and high-powered laser systems.

I’ve also taught myself how to use design software and have been tapping into my creative side to figure out how to (or at least try to) create compelling designs for the faces of the cornhole boards.

Staining wood, especially softwood, is no easy feat. It can also be incredibly time-consuming if you don’t know the tricks of the trade. I’ve made a ton of leaps in getting this dialed in.

Navigating the patenting process, writing my provisional, and working with a lawyer to get the non-provisional filed has been very involved and expensive.

Perhaps the most difficult yet is all of the sacrifices I’ve had to make. There are so many things that I miss from my old life. Working with other people, working regular hours, having free time, being social and finally, money. I used to make it, not worry about it and spend it how I wanted. Conserving my funds and spending it only on things that move my business forward takes a lot of discipline.

With all of these challenges, keeping my head down and staying motivated isn’t easy. I often wonder if I’d known then what I know now if I still would’ve decided to pursue this venture. Either way, I’m glad that I did. I’ve learned more than I can measure, not only about all of the technologies, processes and techniques but about myself.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
We make high-quality, modern cornhole boards.

The cornhole boards come equipped with embedded electronics to make playing way more enjoyable. They keep score so you don’t have any more disputes and so you can focus on enjoying the game instead of the score. They light up the faces and the surrounding area so that you can play into the night. They’re perfect for tailgating and any family that likes games and loves to entertain.

They also have a ton of settings and features including different ambiance displays and the ability to dance to the music.

They’re awesome. Visit the website to learn more www.YoreBoard.com

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned along your journey?
Diligence.

Living in San Diego with no boss to answer to took a while to adjust to. I gave a lot of myself to my work before I decided to resign. I needed time to decompress and rediscover what’s important to me, which I did, but then I had to refocus and get cranking.

There’s a lot out there to distract and derail, especially when there are so many discouraging challenges to overcome. You just have to keep your eyes on the light at the end of tunnel.

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2 Comments

  1. Erin

    May 23, 2021 at 15:33

    Proud of you Brad! Quite a venture. It’s been a blessing to cheer you on from the sidelines. Keep doing what you are doing! We all need a little light in our lives.

  2. Donna Bishop

    October 23, 2021 at 13:53

    Fantastic job!! We are all so proud of you. Looking forward to see what you come up with next.

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