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Meet Byron Thompson of Sawse Games in Sherman Oaks

Today we’d like to introduce you to Byron Thompson.

Byron, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Since graduating from Cal State Northridge in 2013, I’ve been working with various startups in San Francisco and Los Angeles. My first job out of college was at a small company called Boombotix who specialized in portable speakers. I brought an idea of implementing a SD memory card to allow people to enjoy their music without the need for their phones. That idea eventually led to a partnership with the Wu-Tang Clan to release their 25th-anniversary album directly through a speaker. That was the first time I realized one idea could change everything!

I’ve always had a very entrepreneurial mindset but became stagnant through the typical 9-5 grind. I have made a career in Sales and Business Development, helping companies reach a larger audience and grow their businesses through effective partnerships. It’s a rewarding experience knowing that you had a significant impact on a companies journey but creating my own business has always been the ultimate goal.

Fast forward to 2020 and the Coronavirus pandemic. I had been working in the events industry for about a year and a half so once COVID-19 hit, there weren’t any events happening and consequently was laid off of my job. Once that happened, I started working on a few different projects trying to figure out how to make money. I was looking at everything from dropshipping products, I started writing a TV script about my life, looked at day trading and began writing down questions for a trivia game for the culture (African-American culture). After asking a few of my friends the questions I had come up with, I knew I had something on my hands so I focused in on completing the game. I started the project sometime in May and by July, I had the prototype made. So in about a two months span I was able to turn the idea into a reality.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It definitely hasn’t been a smooth road. I think it’s much more difficult to start something with no resources; i.e., money, skills, support.

But the main struggle I deal with is self-doubt. I try to be as confident as possible but when you’re up all day and night working on a project, it’s sometimes hard to see the bigger picture. I’ve had moments where I thought I wouldn’t sell any games at all.

I’ve had to learn all kinds of new skills such as Adobe (Premiere Pro, Lightroom, Illustrator, Photoshop, etc.), copywriting, videography, photography, social media and more. I’ve felt that these newly acquired skills may be too amateurish, which made me worry about the response and feedback to the product.

I think that’s what a lot of people struggle with. Starting anything new can be discouraging at times because you know you aren’t great at it but through this experience, I’ve learned to be more optimistic about the future and keep a positive mindset.

Nobody is great at something the first time, you have to keep working on it.

Sawse Games – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Sawse (saw-see) Games specializes in card games. Our first game, How Cultured Are You? is a new trivia game that tests your general knowledge on popular Black Movies, Music, TV Shows, Sports and more.

Sawse was founded with the purpose of bringing friends and family together through fun and in-person experiences. Our main goal is to create a technology-free environment that encourages interaction and competition. No Apps, No Phones – just good ol’ fashioned fun. Especially during these times, I find it important for us to continue building relationships and spending time with the ones we love.

I’m most proud that Sawse is entering a space that hasn’t been inclusive to black game makers throughout history. There are so few games dedicated to people of color, especially in big box retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target; our goal is to change that. We hope to bring more diversity to these retail shelves while also serving as an inspiration to young entrepreneurs who are looking to become self-sufficient. Thats what sets up apart from others.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success to me is being happy. It’s being comfortable in my situation.

For me, getting out of student loan debt, being able to purchase a home and raise a family without having to worry about everyday factors like will I still have my job next month? Can we pay the rent? Or where is our next meal coming from?

That for me is success. I don’t need a million dollars or vacation homes in the Caribbean. I’m just looking to be comfortable in my situation so that I can then help others achieve those same things. Everyone should be financially independent and not have to worry about basic essential needs.

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