America truly is the land of opportunity, especially to people who grow up in third world countries and fight adversity every day while seeking to create a better life for themselves and their loved ones.
Creating Popongo was one such opportunity, a chance to challenge myself as well as fill a need and connect people.
As a Jamaican native, I dreamed of going to America to do something meaningful with my life. So, I traveled to West Yorkshire, England, to acquire an education then went back to Jamaica to start my professional career. I later moved to Denver, Colorado, and have worked in the world of banking and real estate as a partner and co-CEO of a company called Legacy Management Group since 2004. In this role, I spearhead a program that helps veterans and community heroes like teachers, police, firefighters, medical professionals and social workers acquire housing.
I was honored to come to America to pursue my business goals and kick-start a successful career. It is a privilege to help people in need secure opportunities for a better quality of life for themselves and their families. Since relocating to America, I have independently invested in several other business ventures outside of my full-time job. I am constantly looking for new opportunities to challenge myself and make an impact on people’s lives. Popongo is my newest and most fun venture so far, which I successfully launched during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fulfilling a need – creativity spurs inspiration
During COVID-19, we all found ourselves looking for ways to fill the day. When social distancing became acceptable, some friends and I got together for a backyard barbecue. I brought the most popular outdoor game on the market, and we did not play it for very long. It was relatively boring because we did not find it to be very challenging. The next day, I looked at other lawn games and quickly realized there were not many appealing options available. I decided to challenge my creativity and figure out a new game that would appeal to the masses. I was on a mission to develop a game that would be exciting, challenging and engaging – a game that was just as fun to watch as it was to play.
Popongo was born.
The development of Popongo and a celebration of culture
The development of Popongo was slow and methodical and took months. Figuring out how the game would look and the logistics of how people would play it was a long and slow process, but it was so much fun as it came together bit by bit.
How the game works: Players take turns tossing foam balls into multicolored cups that have different point values. The goal is to collect as many points as possible and be the first to get to the winning score that was set at the beginning of the game. If you’re ahead, stay focused because your opponent can sink a great shot and take over the game at any given time. Popongo is a game where anyone can win no matter how often or little you have played.
Wanting to celebrate my Jamaican culture (my beautiful, proud people), our Caribbean neighbors and our African roots, I made a meaningful decision to incorporate color representations into the design of the game. The Jamaican flag is black for the people, yellow for our golden sunshine and green for our amazing, luscious vegetation. The red represents our African roots and the blue our beautiful blue waters and skies that we share with our Caribbean neighbors.
It is an amazing feeling knowing that fellow Jamaicans can share my pride in our culture and celebrate it by playing this game I invented. My dream is for Popongo to become an entertainment staple in homes throughout the world. My main mission for the game is to connect people and provide opportunities to create meaningful memories.
They say that innovation is born out of necessity, and I couldn’t agree more. As a businessman in the corporate world, I’d never spent much time inventing something for the sole purpose of entertainment. But what I learned quickly was that the principles that exist in my world are the same principles that exist in the gaming world—personalization and community are key for success.
Building relationships and enhancing a sense of community
Trust is the backbone of every consumer decision, no matter the product or the sector. The way to make sure that your community can trust you is by showing up. Not just when you need something or want to make a sale, but all the time. Let customers see you as a person, not just a business owner, and they’re much more likely to buy or refer others to you.
Living in Denver, there’s no shortage of community events. From the farmers market to the Juneteenth Music Festival, I’ve made it a priority to show up as a community member and as a Popongo advocate. When the nearby school hosted a free haircut and back-to-school supplies event, Popongo boards were there to entertain the kids. It’s not about sales; it’s about relationships. Getting to know the community and letting the community get to know me is the only way I can hope for success.
A study by Annex Cloud found that 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know. The importance of community is higher than ever for business success. If you’re looking for a quick way to scale your business, start by building relationships with those you see at the grocery store or at the next high school sports game. There’s no magic formula. It’s just about reaching out a hand and becoming someone that everyone can trust.
What it takes to succeed from the entrepreneurial perspective
The success of ventures like Popongo is a direct result of hard work and tireless dedication. I achieve my goals with determination, as well as with the support of the people I actively build relationships with over the years.
To be successful, I recommend:
- Setting goals and vigorously working toward achieving them.
- Networking with fellow entrepreneurs and like-minded people.
- Playing an active and engaging role in your community.
- Building and maintaining relationships with people who positively impact your life and have the capability of supporting your dreams and goals.
- Constantly challenging yourself to see what you are capable of and exercising creativity as you strive to fulfill needs and find solutions.
- Always show respect to everyone whoever they are – an associate businessperson or the person who delivers your mail. My mom always said, “It is not a visa that gets you through this world, son, it is good manners.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, “Heights by great men reached and kept, were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.” This quote resonates with me because I learned at a very young age that nothing in life – nothing amazing in life – comes with ease. We are responsible for the effort we put into both our successes and our failures.
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