We had the good fortune of connecting with Joshua Helm and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Joshua, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Near the end of my junior year in high school, I took on the position of sales rep at a company. Coming in with no experience, I soon worked my way up and became the top Sales Representative in my office and the top 5 in my entire district within a 3 months period.
Around the same time, I heard that 3 of my friends were creating a tabletop card game. With the extensive boredom from quarantine, they wanted to create something unique that would bring families together. Their team consisted of Austin (a digital designer), Colton (a board game enthusiast), and Steven (head of artwork).
Through a random phone call with Austin, we realized I had the skills that they lacked. I became the fourth member of the company that day taking on the role of sales and outreach. Together, our distinct skillsets enabled us to create an innovative family board game; we called it “The Bear Game”.
After I joined, I constructed my own presentation, reminiscent of my previous sales work. With their initial expectations to only produce a few copies and sell to friends/family, I was able to sell enough pre-orders to purchase our initial 100 copies. Later, I shifted my goal into connecting with local game shops with the intention of one day making it into big-name retail stores like Target and Walmart. Our first pitch in November of 2020 set the stage for the next 14 stores we pitched to. Since then, we’ve purchased a total of 1,100 units and are now available at 15 game shops in 9 states.
Now, in my first year of college at GCU, I got the opportunity to pitch this business I helped to develop in front of hundreds of people at what’s called the Canyon Challenge. They ended up falling in love with the bears and I was awarded a $1,000 check to reinvest into The Bear Game. This game that we created during the summer of our senior year in high school has now become larger than I ever would’ve imagined: sitting on the shelves of retailers. The greatest feeling ever is not selling a copy of The Bear Game, but seeing people laugh and enjoy what we’ve designed.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
As students, we were able to start a company all remotely via Zoom and Google Meet during the pandemic. The hardest part was fitting meetings around homework and sports. However, most of our classes aligned with one another so our schedules were fairly identical. What we came to realize was that the only thing that held us back from starting a business in the past was our own confidence in balancing a student entrepreneur lifestyle.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Since I’ve already had a few friends and family already come out and visit me at Grand Canyon University, I would love first to show them around the campus and take them to get frozen yogurt here. Then, we’d go to Sedona and possibly a hike or swim if they were open to it. In Sedona, they can shop and get some souvenirs while looking at the beautiful red rocks surrounding them. After Sedona, we’d go to Two Hippies Beach House which has good tacos and an even better vibe. Lastly, we could hit up Dobbin’s Viewpoint which is a gorgeous spot that overlooks the city with Saguaro cacti’ all around us. I believe these are just a few of the best spots here in Arizona.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would not have gotten here without all of the help I’ve received. First, I would say that I would not have had the skills to do sales if it wasn’t for taking the job at Vector Marketing. To then transfer those skills and mindset to The Bear Team.
Austin Lee was the first one with the idea to create a card game and the one who carried it through. He has been there side-by-side with me during various phone jams, meetings, and pitches. Colton Harris for leading the game mechanics. Steven Nguyen for being able to be flexible and work on all the random tasks and leading the artwork process. Van Tran, our artist who drew every single bear on all 54 cards, game box, and instructions sheet. This project would not have been possible without the entire team behind it.
I also want to shout out all the retailers, store owners, journalists, customers, and everyone who has supported us. A special shout out to BatCave games, Kazoodles, Red Castle Games, Bears & More, and Imperial Outpost, for supporting us at times when we needed it the most. We really would not be here without your help.