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Cash In on Sudoku

An addictive brainteaser can beget entrepreneurial gold.

This story appears in the August 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Puzzlemania is sweeping the masses--and we're not talking 1,000-piece landscapes. The buzz is all about Sudoku, the number game in which you're given a partially filled grid with numbers ranging from 1 to 9 and must completely fill the grid using each digit only once per line. How are entrepreneurs profiting from this popular brainteaser?

  • Wayne Gould's Puzzles by Pappocom, which began in 2004, created and licenses Sudoku games to other companies. It also provides Sudoku puzzles to 400 newspapers in 60 countries. "It's gratifying to know the concept I [created] does work and that people enjoy the puzzle as much as I do," says Gould, who reports sales of over $1 million annually.
  • Briarpatch Inc., a Millburn, New Jersey, company founded in 1993, was already manufacturing games and puzzles when founders John Donofrio and Martine Redman jumped on the Sudoku craze in 2006. They contracted with Gould and Pappocom to use his Sudoku platform and today, they manufacture a board game called Sudoku, the Ultimate Puzzle Game. Briarpatch expects 2006 sales of more than $20 million.
  • Real Dice Inc., a Carson City, Nevada, game development company founded by Guy Ben-Artzi in 2005, specializes in the Palm OS, Pocket PC, smartphone and other mobile markets. The company developed Sudoku Master to let Sudoku addicts take the game on the road and quickly saw growth skyrocket--2006 sales should hit $1 million.

What are some of the hot business opportunities for tomorrow's Sudoku entrepreneurs? Anything that creates a sense of community, which Sudoku addicts seem to crave; as well as accessories, including the mugs, mouse pads, calendars, board games, T-shirts and greeting cards sold at online stores such as Sudokushop.comand Since the game itself is in the public domain, the Sudoku possibilities are endless.

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