Timing was key to alum's success

Peter Dinbigh - Alumni Spotlight

SUMMARY: Peter Denbigh ('02, '11M) drew on his studies at Madison and his entrepreneurial instincts to successfully launch the party game Watch Ya Mouth, which became the fastest-growing product on Amazon Launchpad.

from the Winter 2019 issue of Madison

By Stephen Briggs

When the idea for the wildly successful Watch Ya Mouth party game came like a flash to Peter Denbigh (’02, ’11M) in 2016, he did what most people don’t—he acted on it. Immediately.

At the time, Denbigh had been doing a lot of research and reading on the speed of execution, and “how an idea is worthless if you don’t act on it,” he explains. “Two weeks later, we had a working prototype.”

Next came a successful Kickstarter campaign and a quick trip to the top spot on Amazon Launchpad, the online retailer’s program to help startups gain exposure. “I can’t say enough good things about Amazon Launchpad. We were the fastest-growing and highest-selling product ever on Launchpad at that time.”

Watch Ya Mouth game

Then Amazon called and said they would have to turn off the “buy” button, as Denbigh and his team likely wouldn’t be able to keep up with the demand. “Please do don’t that,” he told them, “We will make it happen. Give us two days and we’ll have a plan for you.”

Amazon gave them a week. What followed was seven days of phone calls with far-flung manufacturers and distributors at all hours of the day and night, with catnaps in between. Troubleshooting logistics and providing artwork. Filling five tractor-trailers full of assembled games out of his home. And they pulled it off.

Fortunately, Denbigh had three things he could count on: two JMU degrees—an undergraduate Integrated Science and Technology degree with a concentration in engineering-manufacturing and an Innovation MBA that included a study-abroad trip to China—and his wife, partner and CFO, Alison Varner Denbigh (’07), a double major in economics and finance. “We’re both proud to be Dukes,” Denbigh says.

Their 8-year-old son even got in on the family business, “packing boxes and games in our basement. We really immersed him in this chaos that we call life. He helped with stuff in this building.”

The building Denbigh refers to is his newest venture, the Staunton Innovation Hub, a place for local entrepreneurs to have access to office space and resources without the long-term commitments and high costs normally associated with starting a business. The first phase of. The building is complete and already at 100 percent capacity, and the second phase is filling up even before it opens its doors.

“I don’t want people to have to deal with quite as much as I’ve put up with,” he says. “Innovation is the most important thing that society or anyone in it contributes, to innovate and think differently and solve the problems of this world.

“When it comes down to it, I just want to make it easier for other people to come up with things and execute ideas and live this dream.”

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Published: Friday, December 7, 2018

Last Updated: Thursday, January 23, 2020

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