This mad scientist is the CEO and Founder of Geekify Inc - a Denver based invention studio and design workshop. He and his team hand make and sell crazy cool stuff from geeky fandoms (think items within video games, movies, and classic books). Check out their stuff HERE. They also take custom orders and create all kinds of props, replicas, and costumes.
John and I had a fun personal branding photo shoot in his workshop just north of Denver. We got to play with leather-working tools, the laser cutter, and lots of other odds and ends around his office.
Read on to learn how John turned a basement project into an online success and see some of his sweet new photos below!
Kasey: What exactly is Geekify Inc?
John: We are an invention studio and design workshop - we take ideas and bring them to life. We work with a wide variety of clientele from the game, movie, and film industry doing props, replicas, and product and merchandise lines, as well as with individual consumers turning their ideas into products or pieces for their collections.
Kasey: How did you end up starting this unique company?
John: It all started as part of a cosplay gone wrong for BlizzCon. I built a costume and wound up with some extra leather. I ended up making my first Neverending Story kindle cover. From there it snowballed.
I posted the cover online and it went viral and got 50,000 hits in two weeks. I started getting piles and piles of orders. It was just me on the floor of my roommate's house. All of a sudden I had to go and meet this demand for these dozens of covers which at the time each one took about 7 or 8 hours to make. I gradually hired a couple friends and moved out of my roommate's house.
Geekify Inc is kinda-sorta light manufacturing, kinda-sorta a creative workshop, and kinda-sorta all these different things but not one thing specifically. We've worked to continually build up our skill sets as a workshop - through classes, YouTube videos, meeting people who know how to do stuff, and applying neat and unusual techniques.
Our position has been to be as versatile of a workshop as we can. We get people coming to us for signage or wedding dresses or for special events. We've even worked with a fashion designer in Denver who does laser-cut satin wedding dresses. We recently just did a laser cut corset for a bride getting married at Burning Man.
Kasey: What is your favorite special order that you've created?
John: We work a lot with authors and podcasts and video game companies. It's been really fun to engage our own heroes. We just started working with the McElroy Brothers, for instance. They do a Dungeons and Dragons podcast called the Adventure Zone. We just did a metallic armor bracelet based on one of the items that they constantly describe in the show. We got to bring that to life for all the fans.
"It's just so thrilling to get to be able to work with our heroes."
Kasey: What's it like running Geekify Inc now that it has grown so much and left the basement?
John: It's a lot of fun. We've got a great environment - it's very casual and laid back. I'm always of the opinion that life comes first, before the job. Life matters most. I have six people on my team right now and they are all very talented and artistic. I always thought that leadership was a quality that you either had or you didn't. I didn't recognize it as something that could be honed or could be learned. So learning how to manage people has been a career of itself.
"I get to work with customers who are super fired up about their fandoms and ideas."
When somebody comes to us with an idea of "since childhood, I've always dreamed of having this thing" that's probably one of the coolest things, making those dreams a reality for people. Now that we're more established, we've been able to work with our own heroes and make their merchandise. I loved working with the McElroys and can't wait to do more with them.
Kasey: What do you wish you would have known when you started?
John: Hmm....actual good business advice is don't be afraid to spend a little bit of money to save yourself a lot of time. I wish I would have streamlined things a little faster.
Kasey: What are you most excited about right now?
John: It has been a very hard road getting here, but we are at a point where we don't have to scrounge for every dollar now. Every time we have a new influx of cash, we use it to buy a new tool of some kind. We just got the laser cutter and we have a new CNC router arriving tomorrow. Each new thing we get opens up so many doors for us. Each thing we have done has built up to the moment of "now we can launch a million new products and work with a million new people and bring their ideas to life."
"What I am excited the most for is that we are just getting started."
I want to take these new tools and build cool, beautiful things. I really want to get into fusing classic art styles with video game art. So, stained glass windows of those big beautiful windows you see in Legends of Zelda or doing marble frieze reliefs of the cool hieroglyphic scene you encounter in Skyrim.
Kasey: When is a time you went above and beyond for a customer?
John: We worked with Thinkgeek and Bethesda to produce a book from the Elder Scrolls game series. It was a special limited edition book, with only 100 made. It was a massive, massive book. The thing weighed 6 or 7 pounds each one. The book had a giant resin skull on the front with beautiful gold corners and a horrible, terrible looking book as far as aesthetic because it was supposed to be very creepy.
We went above and beyond to figure out how to make this book. It was great challenge because what they built in the game wouldn't translate into a real-world item. We had to do all sorts of weird, clever engineering tricks to make the cover work. At the end of it we did a burnished, half-burned and aged burlap bag for it to go in and wrapped it with twine. So customers would get this shipment of this book that looks like it came straight out of the universe of the game it was in. The Bethesda people were blown away. They wished they weren't only getting a hundred of them.
"It was creepy and cool and awesome."
Kasey: One last question: in support of shopping local, what is one of your favorite local businesses?
John: McGuckin Hardware up in Boulder is great! You can take a project there and many of the employees are retired engineers and they love to help you figure out how to make something work. These guys know a lot of cool stuff!
If you would like more information about creating personal branding photos for your brand you might like to check out my Personal Branding page.
Sending good vibes and love! - Kasey
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