BOA-Heartbeat-Soundcloud-header-TEAM-2400x750-150dpi.jpg

How do you take an after-work hobby and capitalize on it to create an empire? This week’s podcast episode details how one man did exactly that, board by board.

 

Listen to valuable advice for hopeful entrepreneurs from Brandon Greba, founder of West Georgia Cornhole.

 

iTunes-Button.gif

 

 

Brandon Greba:         We started in 2009, and from there I was doing it as a hobby. So, up until July of 2013, finally I just made the leap of faith, and I quit my good corporate job. And I was excelling, I was at the top of my team, and I was making decent money at it, and stuff. On the other side of that, I come from a long line of entrepreneurs, and it was instilled in me at a young age ... my dad owned his own business, so it was instilled that, hey, you're going to own your own business one day.

 

Narrator:                    Welcome to “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks at forbesbooks.com, and Bank of America at bankofamerica.com.

 

Gregg Stebben:         I’m here with Brandon Greba, he is the owner of West Georgia Cornhole. Their website is westgeorgiacornhole.com, also well worth checking out on Twitter, wgcornhole, on Facebook, West Georgia Cornhole and Instagram, which we are going to talk about because, Brandon, I have heard you are a marketing whiz, or you and your team are when it comes to Instagram. That's West-Georgia-Cornhole.

 

                                   Brandon, thanks for joining us and I have to start by asking what may seem like a really obvious question to you, but I'm not sure everybody in the United States or in the world knows what cornhole is. So give us a real quick rundown of how the game is played.

 

Brandon Greba:         Yeah. Well, thanks guys, for having me on first off. It's a privilege to be in this position so definitely appreciate that. So, yeah. Cornhole is a game that is primarily played at an outdoor event, tailgates, family functions, but over the past three or four years it's really gained in popularity as far competition-wise. It started as a backyard game and now it's kind of turned into big money where you can actually win some prize money and things.

 

Gregg Stebben:         There are pro cornhole players?

 

Brandon Greba:         Oh yeah. Yeah. I mean it's on ESPN now.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Then it's hard to top that, right? That's pretty much pinnacle.

 

Brandon Greba:         Yeah. Yeah. Exactly, but you know, the premise of it is you have eight bean bags. You usually play against another opponent and you have two boards that are spread out 27 feet apart. The boards themselves are two foot by four foot and they've got a six-inch hole towards the top. So, similar to horseshoes. You can transport it very well and then you throw the beanbags and try to get it in the hole. So, one bean bag on the board is one point, and one bean bag on the hole is three points. So you just kind of go back and forth playing your opponent until you get to 21, typically. First to 21 wins, so it's pretty simple in kind of theory but as you get more involved in it, there's a lot of strategy and competition involved.

 

Gregg Stebben:          And of course, we should point out that a big difference between cornhole and horseshoes is in horseshoes usually you're driving a stake into the ground or the sand or something and throwing them. Here, there's a board and that board ends up being really important in this conversation because that's really what your company does—you make cornhole boards, correct?

 

Brandon Greba:         Yep. Yep. So, absolutely. So we can get as basic as just a plain board, natural wood, spray some poly on it, to getting very elaborate, doing corporate logos, sponsors, teams, and things like that. So, it's kind of all up to the customer, the end customer, the company that we're dealing with but that's what makes it cool, so everyone is unique.

 

Gregg Stebben:          So, are your customers a combination of just regular folks like us who want to play in the backyard or with friends, all the way up to corporate? And I could even imagine ... I mean I think I've seen cornhole boards with team logos on them. Pro teams, college teams, things like that?

 

Brandon Greba:         Yeah. So, absolutely. We have an online retail site so anybody off the street can go on there, log on and customize a board and then that goes straight to us and then usually within two weeks, we'll have it delivered to your doorstep, so that's the process and then we have larger bulk orders that we do for corporations, for promotional events, giveaways, things like that. So, definitely, two good markets that we're in.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Help me understand how you got into the business of building cornhole boards. I'm talking with Brandon Greba. He's the owner of West Georgia Cornhole at westgeorgiacornhole.com. You can check him out on social media too, wgcornhole on Twitter, West Georgia Cornhole on Facebook, and on Instagram, West-Georgia-Cornhole. How did you get into this business?

 

Brandon Greba:         Yeah. So, I've always kind of been a hands-on guy, liking to build things. So, really it started probably around 2008, 2009. One of my friends asked me to build a cornhole set for their parents for Christmas, so I went ahead and did it, made a nice set. She presented it to her parents for Christmas. They loved it, fell in love with it. They told some of their friends, "Hey where'd you get this?" You know, mentioned my name, so really from that point on, it was word of mouth. I was working out of my garage and had a corporate full-time job, trying to manage that and orders started flowing in, started picking up, word of mouth.

 

                                   I would make some local classified posts, kind of starting real small and then things really just escalated. Cornhole was getting popular. We were making a product. Or at that time I was making a good product, and it just really scaled from there. You know we started in 2009, and from there I was doing it as a hobby, so up until July of 2013. I finally just made the leap of faith and I quit my good, corporate job that I was excelling in.

 

Gregg Stebben:         What was your good corporate job?

 

Brandon Greba:         I was working for a company called Fastenal. It's a rather large industrial supply company, so I was a project manager for them at that time.

 

Gregg Stebben:         So, you were at a place where you had to make a tough choice, or maybe it was an easy choice.

 

Brandon Greba:         Oh yeah. It was tough because I was in a position with my job and I was excelling. I was the top of my team and I was making decent money at it and stuff, but on the other side of that, I come from a long line of entrepreneurs and it was instilled in me at a young age and my dad owned his own business. So it was kind of installed that, "Hey, you're going to own your own business one day." So, at that point, it was like, "Okay. I know I can do this. I know I can make money at it." You've got the work ethic to do it, let's do it and then I talked to my boss. He thought I was crazy but it was a long process.

 

                                  Me and my wife talked about it for six, seven, eight months and just got plans together and made sure the financials worked out and made sure we weren't going crazy doing this thing, you know?

 

Gregg Stebben:         So, when you made that leap around July 2013—so about five years ago—were you still making the boards in your garage? Did you have any employees? Where was the business at that point, and then help us understand what you've built it into today?

 

Brandon Greba:         Yeah. So at that point we were still in my garage and it was considered a hobby at that point.

 

Gregg Stebben:          So, you and Steve Jobs started the same way.

 

Brandon Greba:         Yep. Yep. Two car garage. Yep, out in Georgia. I didn't have any employees. I mean I had some people, some friends, that would lend a hand on the weekend if I was backed up or during the summer I would hire some buddies that were teachers that had the summer off, so kind of that model. And usually the summer is our busier time, so it kind of helped out, you know, them making a little extra money and then helping me out when we were busy. So, but nobody full time at that point so as soon as I ... we formed an LLC and then started July '13

 

                                             Related Content: Why Your Small Business Should Participate in Facebook or Instagram Live Streaming Events. And Tweet Chats, Too!   

 

                                   A month or two later, I hired a part-timer. He was a work release student in one of the local high schools. So I hired him on. He was going to be graduating later in the spring. So, we kind of mentored him and trained him up so hired him on. And then in ... I guess it was October, November of '13, so a few months later, we moved into a commercial space of about 5000 square feet, so you know, at that point we were able to really expand and spread out, create some more efficiencies and not be so crammed and then really just kind of make the stepping stones of what we needed to do to grow the business to where we wanted it.

 

                                   That was a big move, getting into a building and out of the garage.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Signing a lease is a big deal.

 

Brandon Greba:         Yep. Yep. Absolutely. So, that was ... You know, we made the move there towards the end of '13 and started ramping up, getting ready for Christmas. Usually Christmas is pretty big and then went full steam at it January, February of 2014 and just kind of started hiring people. I had one part-time employee. He turned into a full-time after he graduated high school. He stuck with me after that for about three to four years, so he was definitely a good hire and kind of got me going as well, so it was a good investment there.

 

Gregg Stebben:          And so how big is your company today?

 

Brandon Greba:         Right now, we actually, two months ago, acquired a new building so we're building. Square foot now, we are about 15, 16 thousand square feet. We have a mixture of part-time, full-time. Right now probably 20 to 22 employees right now, so looking to bring on a few more here before the year is over. I would say by the end of the year maybe 23, 24 employees. Definitely a big uptick in five years, so it's something to be very proud of.

 

Gregg Stebben:         So, I have to ask. Do you have a sense of how big the cornhole market is?

 

Brandon Greba:         The cornhole market ... We've got a few competitors of mine that are out there, but the market's kind of really split because you've got these garage hobby builders, like I came out of. So from the garagers ... There's still a lot of those guys out there that are doing that across the country. But we kind of estimate the cornhole yard game market. Because we do a little bit more than just cornhole. We do a lot of other yard games as well. So, we anticipate the yard game market anywhere between 20 and 40 million dollars a year.

 

Gregg Stebben:         I have heard that you have done very well, very, very well, using Instagram as a marketing tool. Can you talk to us about things you tried in the beginning? What worked, what didn't, and what you're doing today?

 

                                             Related Content: 5 Ideas to Use Instagram Stories to Drive Small Business Growth

 

Brandon Greba:         Yeah. So, you know, we use social media is huge for us. You know we use it as a way to connect to our followers and not just followers, but potential buyers. And a lot of people out there will try to push product down people's throats on social media. We kind of take a different angle, you know. We want to just engage with those people. You know, we want to get them to know our business and then hopefully, at that point we have an emotional connection with them and then they make the sale. They want to be connected with company in the sale.

 

                                   It's just not some random cornhole board off an internet site. We want to let them know how the process is, behind-the-scenes pictures, kind of stuff like that. It's important to put a face behind the product, really. That's kind what we really like to do with it. And then Instagram and Facebook is an easy way to do that.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Yes. And so, has that ... First of all, are you the one who's managing your social media and whether you're the one doing it today or not, were you doing it in the beginning?

 

                                            Related Content: The Small Business Owner's Guide to Social Media

 

Brandon Greba:         Yeah. I handle a lot of it now still. I have a little help from one of my other guys but it's you know, it's probably about 50-50 between both of us as far promotion we're going to do on there or any type of ad spend or anything like that or pictures or what not we're going to put on. But yeah, in the beginning it was all me. Everything really, was all me in the beginning, you know until…

 

Gregg Stebben:          It's the nature of being an entrepreneur.

 

Brandon Greba:         Oh yeah. Yeah. And until you realize, "Hey. I can't do all this anymore." Then you start hiring people, so hiring good people that can do the job that you used to do. So, that was a big thing too.

 

Gregg Stebben:         When you started the company in 2013, were you already a big social media user? Or did you have to learn the rules of the game around the time you launched or started to use it for your own company?

 

Brandon Greba:         I wouldn't say I was good. I was probably average, you know. Just being young, knowing that kind of stuff is an advantage and then it starts changing every day. You know, the aspect of the new sites that are out there and how people interact an all the hashtags, the algorithm, all the hot stuff behind the scenes. All that stuff's changing every day. You know, you got to kind of stay on top of it. We have some outside help that kind of helps us with some of the guidance on that stuff. But yeah, it's all learning. Every day is change. You got to learn new things every week.

 

Gregg Stebben:         How would you categorize the importance of social media in the marketing of your company? Is it your main thing or is it part of a larger mix?

 

Brandon Greba:         I wouldn't say it's everything but it is a lot. It's a big nest, but you don't want to put all your eggs in that basket.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Yes. Yes. Well, I'm imagining that if you're in what you call the backyard game industry, that there's a lot of other ways to connect with fans, and friends, and customers. Events, leagues, celebrity clients ... Do you see yourself doing things like that?

 

Brandon Greba:         We host tournaments. We have a weekly league that we host in our local city. You know we are for hire for different corporate events or tournaments that people want to point on. At that point, you know, people are actually playing on our boards. They get the chance to talk with us, interact with us, play with our product so it's a good way to get people to actually use our stuff before the buy it and then they can ask us how to purchase these things at that point. So, it's just another avenue. You know, another avenue as far celebrity clients ... We'll occasionally get clients that will purchase some of our cornhole boards.

 

                                   At that point it's pretty cool. You know, we try to jump on it, try to leverage that as far as making posts or what not or trying to get them to take pictures with the product and tagging us. It is pretty cool and if there is a potential buyer that sees that they're going be like, "Wow. Okay. You made this so and so." For us it's just another way to go to market there.

 

Gregg Stebben:         I'm talking with Brandon Greba. He's the owner of West Georgia Cornhole. It's westgeorgiacornhole.com. If you're needing a board, that's the place to go. On Twitter, wgcornhole. Facebook, West Georgia Cornhole, and on Instagram, West - Georgia-Cornhole.

 

                                   Brandon, I noticed on your website that you are actually doing a lot of work for big name, big brand companies like Coca-Cola and American Express, Adobe, Google Fiber. Tell us about how you got started in the corporate market.

 

Brandon Greba:         Yeah. So the corporate market has really come on, probably in the past two to three years. So, that's a totally different ball game as far as going to bat with those guys but we just reach out to them. We try to make some calls. A lot of times they're finding us on Google searches, sending us emails that way. But it's just, when you get those emails, you get those inquiries, you know we try to jump on them, take extreme care of them. We try to take care of everybody but really focusing and making those relationships work.

 

                                   And then a lot of times, it's reoccurring purchases that they're doing. You know, they have events throughout the year, do promotions or giveaways. So we just want to make sure that they are 100% taken care of. It turns out to be an ongoing relationship that we have with them.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Which is a beautiful, beautiful, thing. I want to ask you two other things, Brandon. One is, now that you've built this company up, essentially in about 10 years, right ... 2008 or 2009 ... you're 10 years in. You've grown. You're having a remarkable success. Where do you see yourself and the company in five years, 10 years?

 

Brandon Greba:         Yeah. So, I'm always ... one of my things is I always dream big. You know, set big goals, obtains those goals and then once you do that, set even bigger goals after that. So, in five years, I would be like to be doing close to $10 million in sales, be looking for a bigger building at that point, outgrow this building. I want to have probably 30 to 40 employees, so double the employee base. So those are just some of the five-year goals. After that it's probably the 10 years goals. After 10 years I want to be at the point I'm letting this ... this thing is smooth sailing. I'm looking into possibly purchasing other business or building another business kind of similar that can complement this. You know, that's where we're at.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Sounds like a great goal. The last thing I want to ask you because of the success you've built in the last 10 years is, when you think back to those early days, and then in your mind kind of fast forward to today ... Has there been one or two of the most valuable lessons you've learned about owning, starting, or running a business that you wish everyone knew?

 

Brandon Greba:         Yeah. I've got quite a bit of them. Yeah. I guess one of the biggest things, you know ... Don't let anybody tell you, you can't do it. When I started off, "Oh. What are you doing, man? You're crazy. Why are you quitting this job, doing this?" Don't let anybody say you can't do it. There's always going to be naysayers and stuff out there, so put that aside and then five, 10 years down the road, say, "Well, look what I've done." Don't let anybody put you down. Don't let anybody say it can't be done. I said it before. Dream big, set big goals. Obtain those goals and then set new ones, really.

 

                                   And a big one too is, it's not all peachy and peachy as a way it's going to be you know. There are going to be rough times. Everybody thinks owning your own business, "Oh, man. You own your own business. That's awesome." It's got its bad days just like anybody else. Those bad days are bad.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Well, for you, and for your company ... For West Georgia Cornhole, what's a bad day look like?

 

Brandon Greba:         You know, you may lose a sale, you may lose a customer, you may lose a bigger customer. You know may have some machinery that goes down. You're going to have to jump on that, spend money on that. You may have some employees that on a big day you needed them to be here, they didn't show up, something happened. So, there's always crazy things like that. It's never all ups. But with those rough times, you know, learn from those mistakes and what happened in those rough times and how you can avoid them in the future. You got to do that.

 

Gregg Stebben:         In other words, when things are tough, make sure you learn from them so you don't repeat the same mistakes.

 

Brandon Greba:         Exactly.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Brandon, thanks for joining us. He's Brandon Greba. He's the owner of West Georgia Cornhole. Westgeorgiacornhole.com. On Twitter, @wgcornhole. On Facebook, at West Georgia Cornhole and on Instagram at West-Georgia-Cornhole. Go to any of those social media sites or directly to westgeorgiacornhole.com, you will see some beautiful boards and if you want to have a great summer and you don't have a cornhole board or you're ready to update, these are the guys to go to.

 

                                   Brandon, thanks so much for joining us.

 

Brandon Greba:          Yes sir, thanks for having me.

 

Narrator:                      Thanks for listening to “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks at forbesbooks.com and Bank of America at bankofamerica.com

 

 

Similar Content