Sweet sound of success: Hepburn couple crack global games market

May 9th, 2024Sweet sound of success: Hepburn couple crack global games market

World-wide, some truly remarkable things have come out of the global Covid pandemic and one of them is the meteoric rise to international success of a new part game developed by a Hepburn Springs couple during lockdown.
Nat Delaney-John and Cam Jasson – and Meatball the dog – with That Sound Game. Photo: Eve lamb

World-wide, some truly remarkable things have come out of the global Covid pandemic and one of them is the meteoric rise to international success of a new part game developed by a Hepburn Springs couple during lockdown.

One aspect that makes the success of That Sound Game so remarkable is that the two women behind it, Nat Delaney-John and Cam Jasson have backgrounds that could hardly be any further from the games scene.

Cam is a construction sector project management consultant whose professional dedication saw her awarded the Property Council of Australia’s Future Leader of the Year Award ’23, while Nat, who dreamt up That Sound Game, is a taxidermist.

The two had been living in a Melbourne apartment getting on with their work. But when the pandemic struck, Nat’s life and livelihood was badly impacted and she was left struggling to find a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

“I was so used to feeling like my world was large,” Nat recalls the impact of the pandemic on her personal existence. “Because of taxidermy I was used to working with palaeontologists and digging up dinosaurs.”

“When Covid happened it really, really hurt my company. I felt the walls closing in.”

But as Victorians – and millions of others world-wide – cocooned in their houses and turned to things like food, wine and board games during enforced lockdown, Nat had an interesting realisation.

“I needed to feel like you could still have dreams. And the more I thought about it, the more I realised someone should have done this before us,” Nat says.

“It is so rare to see a big gap in an already established market.”

Locked-down Nat had noticed that while the world had no shortage of charades-based games, word games galore, and myriad vision-based evergreen board game favs, there seemed very little, if anything, based around the medium of sound.

A dream was borne with Nat and Cam pouring their time, energy and money into developing
an entertaining fun-filled, family-friendly game to fill that gap. The result is That Sound Game.

That Sound Game is a fast-paced, interactive and very noisy party game, with the goal to get your team to guess as many answers on the category card as they can in a minute. Players can use any combination of sounds and movements, but their hands must be behind their back.

On its release in February 2023, That Sound Game became a social media sensation, “going viral” on TikTok.

“Nat came up with the idea in 2021 at the start of the second lockdown,” Cam says.

“We worked on the game for the whole of the lockdown and it’s been in production for about two years.

“We launched the game at the start of February ‘23 and when we launched it went viral on TikTok. We sold out in the US in four hours and we sold out world-wide in four days.

“Within our first year of launching we sold 100,000 units.”

Nat says social media has been a big part of their success.

“Our total reach on social media now is 190 million views. That’s how many eyeballs have seen us,” she says.

That Sound Game has since gained distribution in the US and the UK with major international retailers like Barnes & Noble, Walmart Canada, and Waterstones and John Lewis in the UK stocking it, while their own website and a partnership with Amazon enables them to fulfil supply obligations for online sales globally.

“We can fulfil (online sales orders) pretty much anywhere in the world,” Nat says.

But getting to that stage was far from easy.

“I was working three jobs and Cam was working two jobs to make it happen,” says Nat who took on additional work at Reptile Encounters, teaching young adults with autism to become zoo keepers in order to raise an extra $50,000-$60,000 needed to get them over the line.

“Thank goodness it paid off,” she says.

It not only paid off but enabled them to purchase their own home in Hepburn Springs in December after an initial shift to Daylesford mid-2023 as the game was taking off.

“I think both of us have been motivated by the fact that we are supporting our families as well,” says Cam who is financially assisting family in South Africa.

As for Nat, she is providing support for her mother who is contending with terminal illness.

To cater for market demand, they have further developed That Sound Game by creating some add-on x-tension packs including a ribald adults only pack, and another one aimed at more junior players in development, while the main game itself (that retails for $49) is family– friendly and suited for players young and mature alike.

The game has now been translated into Italian, French, Portuguese, Spanish and German, and as The Local caught up with Nat and Cam at their home in Hepburn Springs in very recent days, pre-sales were poised to go live in each of those countries.

As if that weren’t sufficient success, That Sound Game has just taken out Game of The Year at the Australian Toy Association Awards, and is also a finalist in the running to win Gift of The Year in the UK with Nat flying to London to attend a gala awards event and find out if they’ve scooped it.

Ellen DeGenre’s (online subscription) Game Night got in touch last year and as a result, That Sound Game is set to feature on that platform mid-year in what represents a fairly invaluable promotional opportunity.

It’s a heady take-off from November 2022 when, Nat laughs recalling, “we started selling to family and friends as sheer harassment to buy the thing we’d been working on.”

Nat and Cam now represent one of the very few entirely female-owned board game enterprises in the world.

“It’s amazing. Life-changing,” Nat says when asked what the journey has been like so far.

“We thought we had a million dollar idea, but to actually become a million dollar idea… These things don’t happen by chance. We were working up to 20 hours a day and now it’s probably down to 16 hours a day.”

Asked whether there’s any advice she could give aspiring entrepreneurs, Cam draws on her sporting background and says: “I was always taught to be the hardest worker in the room. I feel lucky it’s paid off. You have to visualise that the thing has happened or is going to happen. You have to win that battle in your head first.”

And then she adds: “I’d say invest in yourself as well. Take a gamble on yourself.”

Words: Eve Lamb

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