Brian L. Pellham – CEO of Kheper Games, Inc., Seattle, Washington, USA

By on October 30, 2014

When did you get into games?

I had always enjoyed creating games for my friends to play growing up, so it was a passion of mine that has stayed with me from a very early age. I still remember the feeling of how excited I was to see my friends so entertained by a game of dares I had written at age 10. The prize was a tub of gummy bears and the party guests all wanted to win, so they were willing to lick the drapes, sizzle on the floor like bacon and do all sort of other crazy dares.

How did Kheper start?

I tried first to have my first book published, A Partier’s Guide to 51 Drinking Games, after I finished writing it a few months later.   Every path I followed led to a rejection letter and I finally decided if this book was going to get published, I was going to do it myself. I wish I had saved my rejection letters to write back after we sold our ½ millionth copy.   I worked my full time job as a technical writer at Microsoft, AT & T Wireless, and Boeing for the next five years, all the while writing more games and publishing three more games books. Two of which I co-authored with a good friend, Allison Kent. In 1999, I got my “big break” when Spencer Gifts tested two of our games books and rolled out A Partier’s Guide to 51 Drinking Games. Shortly after in 2000, I pulled in a handful of investors, including my brother Tony Pellham (who later became our Operations V.P.), and launched Kheper Games, Inc. I started launching romance games, drinking games, and other adult party games. Many were instant successes that still are best-sellers for us today. What the F*ck?, a drinking games of outrageous questions, Beer! a strategy drinking card game, Sex! a card game of sex positions, and Weed! A strategic game of growing pot plants have all sold so well that we’ve since then launched product lines to extend each brand.

A typical day

I usually start the day with answering emails and calling customers.   We have some customers in the U.K. and Netherlands that I work with directly and then often I try to reach U.S. customers on the East Coast before 9 a.m. P.S.T. Then I work my way west. Midday I’ll work on product development and if I need to communicate with customers in Australia or vendors in China, I’ll make those calls or emails at the end of each day.

What I love about my job

The people and the process!   I really enjoy trade shows, customer visits, and opportunities I have to travel and see our customers.   It’s a great way for me to get inspired with ideas for expanding our product lines to hear what our buyer’s customers are asking for as well as brainstorming with them on how to fine-tune our ideas.   The design and product creation process is still very exciting for me still after 20 years to see final product and enjoy successes from our line as we launch them with key customers and at trade shows like ANME.

The most significant influence in my working career was/is

My close relationships with both men and women. I love couples and learning how different friends of mine in relationships tackle their issues. Also to understand what helps people feel that they have a well-rounded social life as well. I have had some amazing conversations with other vendors and buyers in our industry that openly speak about their relationships and have become close friends. It leads to the inspirations and therapeutic values we build within our products.

I’m most proud of Today we are quickly approaching our 20 millionth game sold. Our products can be found in Spencer Gifts, Urban Outfitters, Francesca Collections, Go! Games Stores, and adult boutique stores internationally.   We reach over 100 countries with our products, with our strongest distribution channels outside of the U.S. in Europe, Australia, India, Canada, Mexico and Latin America. Products of ours are in up to 12 languages with the most prevalent being English, German, Spanish and French.

We offer our customers value and an abundance of creative ideas within the games we write, produce, and market. Our romance games are designed to help couples resolve issues in their relationships in fun and playful ways, and our party games are designed to keep people laughing and entertained.

One of the most memorable moments was

The first large order I received from a 600 store chain in 1999.   Knowing that I could soon leave my technical writing job to start my own company. I remember holding the paper PO and showing it off to friends of mine as our first product, A Partier’s Guide to 51 Drinking Games, had finally taken off after 5 years of hard work promoting it.

Last book I read

The Good Guy from Dean Koontz. He’s the only writer I remain loyal to where I try to read all of his new releases. I enjoy the supernatural elements that he includes in each of his suspense novels as each one creates a unique reality and helps encourage creative thinking.

Favourite movie/TV show

My favorite movie would have to be one I watched growing up over 20 times, Escape from NY. Favorite TV series is Modern Family although I did really enjoy watching all 6 seasons within a few weeks of Breaking Bad last year.

What would most people not know about me

Socially I actually am quite shy.   I have to push myself many times to socialize and part of why we do so well with party games is that it stems from my own issues I have in being more comfortable in large groups.

My favourite place

In our trade show booths at a busy show. The energy of releasing new products is exciting and often feels like the reward for the hard work and 100s of hours I put into developing the content of our games each year.

If I could change one thing

I would like to be more adventurous and wish I had been more so earlier on in my life. I was a late bloomer so to speak and wish I had knew at the start of Kheper Games, Inc. what I know now about human sexuality.

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