From maths teacher to boardgame maker

Christopher Curtis speaks to workingwise.co.uk about his new boardgame Prometheus, which is described as “a strategy game with simple rules and an infinitely fascinating set of outcomes”.

Christopher Curtis

 

Christopher Curtis is a former Head of Maths who has created a new boardgame called Prometheus which aims to make maths easier. He speaks to workingwise.co.uk about his ambitions.

Q: What was the inspiration for starting the business?

Christopher Curtis: As a maths teacher and Head of Maths at Frome College for 20 years I developed an interest in making maths easier for young people, less daunting and recognised often young people suffer from maths anxiety in a formal setting. I also had an interest for merging subject disciplines and knew there was a huge value in this approach.

Prometheus eventually came to me in a dream over seven years ago after the commissioning of a Prometheus hearth sculpture from renowned artist John Robinson, which from his insight for exploring the interconnections between subjects such as mathematics, drama, music and art led to the opening of a new Prometheus Centre – a mathematics and drama building at Frome College. It has taken nine years to get to the stage where Prometheus has been manufactured by Cartamundi, Ireland alongside Monopoly.

Q: How do you work flexibly?

CC: As I am no longer working full time as a maths teacher in a school, I am able to divide my time between private tutoring and managing the business. In recent months as Prometheus has gained huge popularity worldwide, I have been working extra hard to make sure orders are handled and delivered on time. Because the demand is now so huge – we are about to make Prometheus available on Amazon and this is a very exciting turning point in the journey of Prometheus.

Q: How difficult has it been to enter such a field like board games?

CC: I have worked with some great people along the way, like the sculptor John Robinson and also my business partner, Richard Stone. The first thing I had to learn was patience. I had to wait seven years for the game to be patented and this is key. If you have an idea for a board game or any other product that could be easily copied you have to make sure you are protected first before you can release the product to market – and for this you need to patient.

Q: What more could the government do for entrepreneurs like you?

CC: I was delighted to have received a lovely letter from the Prime Minister after when sent a set of Prometheus to Number 10 whilst the Prime Minister was recovering from Covid.   The government has a number of schemes in place and there are always new initiatives happening as we move towards a brighter tomorrow after a very difficult 20 months in the global pandemic.  There are funding opportunities to explore such as those that exist for research and innovation.

I am now looking into other government schemes to make the game available to less privileged young people and to run alongside well being initiatives in state schools. I think there probably is government support out there, it is just knowing where to look. I think especially when the product has a purpose for social good, as in the case of Prometheus.

Q: You obviously started off small and are growing. How have you found that transition and what do you think helped you achieve that?

CC: Meeting talented people who understand what you are trying to do is key.  When I met Hannah Whitrow from Whitrow Wilson Communications agency I instinctively know that Prometheus would soon be in the public domain and would secure a global platform which will enable thousands of people to come together and enjoy playing Prometheus.  Hannah and her Team at Whitrow Wilson have been transformational for Prometheus Concept Ltd.

The PR and media coverage that has really catapulted the interest and demand for the game. A big media hook was the ‘Boris’ angle and his support. This led to an interview with GB News, BBC radio coverage, and articles with the BBC Online, The Daily Mirror and regional media. The fact that Prometheus is now being played in over 15 different countries is testament to Whitrow Wilson’s brilliant work.

I also I think I have hit a lucky sweet spot in time when board games are on the rise with the need for reconnection after lockdown.

Q: What kind of impact have you had trying to do something like this?

CC: I would like to see the game being played worldwide, in schools alongside wellbeing initiatives and as popular game in every household in the UK. My goal is:

• 1/5 households in Britain to purchase game
• Prometheus to be recognised as a valuable maths teaching aid for children
• Inter-country tournaments in schools and more widely alongside chess clubs
• Prometheus is already being recognised as a good way to keep older minds active and help reduce cognitive decline. I am already getting daily orders from care homes via HealthCare Direct and I would like to see the game being played in care homes across the UK and worldwide.

Q: Are children in danger with the amount of screen time they’re getting these days?

CC: Screen time, of course, is a problem and too much screen time is known to have a negative impact on children’s mental health. It is becoming evident from the feedback I have received from parents that during lockdown everyone, children and parents, alike became fed up with computer games.

What I am delighted to find out is that Prometheus has given children an attractive alternative to computer games. Parents write to me to say thanks and let me know that Prometheus has enabled them to reconnect with their children. Children are getting drawn away from computer games to play Prometheus and engaging positively with family time again.



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