I absolutely love it when entrepreneurs hustle and do their thing, which is exactly what our first SaffasAbroad Business Feature is about – Xpat! Fingerboards. When you hear the word “Fingerboard” in the US, you might be partial to thinking the person saying it is referring to a game with mini skateboards, but not this time.
Fingerboard, Finger Bakatel, Flicker Board, Finger Pool or simply “Vingerbord” (the literal Afrikaans translation of Fingerboard) as it is known in its country of origin, South Africa, is a game that has been entertaining families for years. It is a game that has inspired cunning strategy, and has made a brilliant marksman of many a young gamer. This game has been played on dining room tables, or right there on the carpet in the living room. Enjoyed by young and old, all cultures and creeds.
A new startup, led by Louise Berger, called Xpat! Fingerboards is now bringing this much loved game to the USA. “Xpat! Fingerboards arose from the desire to preserve a traditional board game and all the wonderful memories that come with it.” says their website. Research for the boards started almost a year ago, and they launched their first product end October 2019.
“Fingerboard was my favorite game as a kid. I wanted to keep this tradition in my family and when I could not find this game in the USA I decided to make this available to other South African Expats here in the USA.” says Louise. “I did a lot of research. I had to learn fast and there was more to it than what meets the eye. I became familiar with terminology previously foreign to me. Moving to another country is bitter-sweet. There are so many opportunities and feeling safe is priceless. But you find yourself longing for some of the things you left behind. Some traditions that might be lost. So many of us grew up playing and loving this game. Xpat! Fingerboards is offering a part of that nostalgia.”
When asked what she is most proud of about her business, she mentions “(There is) No mass-production here. Every fingerboard is handcrafted with care. Lots of hours go into finishing each board. Customer satisfaction is my number one priority.”
Starting a business in another country is a dream many an expat has in the back of their mind when they start planning immigration. When asked what advice she has to offer fellow South African entrepreneurs, she confidently says “Do your research. Use social media to get support and specific advice from other Expats. I have been in the USA for 25 years now so it doesn’t seem so foreign anymore. I think it is actually easier to start a business here in the USA.”
Thinking back, I remember a lot of amazing days spent with friends and family playing finger board. It was especially popular during school holidays, summer holidays or weekends when we didn’t know what to do. This game was the total opposite to Monopoly – your kid sister of 5 years old can play with, and teams can strategize to create winning plays. There is so much more to this simple game than you might think, and I love that Louise has brought this to the US.
This post is the first in a series of posts that highlights South Africans being their innovative hustling selves in a country they now call home. I asked Louise a couple of questions, not just to get to know her better, but also to understand what motivated her to start her business, and what lessons she would like to share with other South Africans.
Also, let me preface this by saying I didn’t ask for any products, nor have I tested her product. I am more interested in the person behind the business, and the business, so please understand this is not a review.
Although their customers are mainly South Africans living in the US and in Canada, they are starting to introduce the game, which is unfamiliar to most Americans, to the American public. A recent review of the board by an American reviewer agreed that “Fingerboard has a simple set of rules that are really quite intuitive. The game is basically a combination of Crokinole and Pool.” – you can read the rest of the review and get info on how to play Fingerboard, here.
To Louise the most important thing for her business are happy customers. “Every time someone thanks me for bringing this game to the USA and they are so excited to introduce it to their kids, I feel like I accomplished what I wanted to.” she says. “We are constantly getting input from our customers. Thanks to our customer input we are now making a large fingerboard like the ones we grew up with (in addition to the medium original fingerboard).”
Fingerboard is a magnificent way to build motor skills and teach hand eye coordination through play. With 2 to 4 players, it brings fun to players as young as I would guess 5 years old.
I wish Louise and her team at Xpat! Fingerboards only the greatest of success! Be sure to support them 🙂
If you’d like more info about Xpat! Fingerboards or to order one for yourself, here is all the info:
Want your business featured on my blog? Get in touch!