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Spanish Fork teen builds lawn game business with support from parents, expresses thanks for their support

Sep 06, 2019 08:44PM ● By Arianne Brown

When Eric and Rachel Jacobsen walk down into their basement in Spanish fork, it’s not filled with furniture or decorative wall hangings.

In fact, there aren’t even any walls to hang things on, or flooring to place any furniture.  Instead, the unfinished basement is filled with stackable cups, softballs, and packaging ready to be shipped to eager customers. Rather than the fulfilled wish of a finished basement, the area is filled with a budding dream and ambition that belongs to their 14-year-old son, Jeston.

The dream that is well on its way to be realized is a yard game Jeston invented called, KNOCK ‘EM, where two to four players try to knock down their opponent’s cups with a ball, with the goal of having the last cup standing. The game has been three years in the making, and Eric Jacobsen says it’s been a wonderful experience that he hopes will continue.

“I remember when Jeston first showed us the game that was originally a tabletop game,” Eric Jacobsen said. “He had written up all the instructions, and had put a lot of thought into it, but I had no expectations."

But, when they played the game as a family, that’s when Eric said he knew this game was something special. He encouraged his son to pitch it to a friend who had a successful Kickstarter campaign. They then decided to turn it into a yard game, and began working on creating prototypes that they could test out on neighbors and friends. They gathered feedback and began working toward their Kickstarter campaign. That campaign, unfortunately, fell short of its goal, and that’s when the Jacobsens had to dig deep. 

“When the Kickstarter failed, it actually turned out to be a really good thing, because it forced us to think differently,” Eric said.

Faced with needing to fund the rest of the project alone so they didn’t risk losing it all, the Jacobsens had to make sure their son was all in.

“Jeston and I had a conversation about really trying to make this a business,” Eric said. “I told him that I would support him 100 percent, but only if he was committed. I made sure he knew that I was about to invest time and money that was not easy to come by because I believed in him and the product.”

Jeston told his parents he was committed, and along with their support, KNOCK ‘EM has made steady steps forward. And with each step made, the Jacobsens have had to reevaluate goals, accept setbacks, and look at the bigger picture.

“The clear thought I had when doing this was that I needed to do it for Jeston’s development and for us to have something to work on together,” Eric said. “That was it. And that was enough.

“Life is about learning, growing and connecting,” he continued. “This has provided all of those things. We are learning new things, and it is pushing all of us to be better. It has provided a common exciting thing and opportunity for our entire family. We have felt love and support from so many people in our family, neighborhood, local community, and the yard game community. And just having a common interest with my 14-year old son at a time when it can be hard to find that has been awesome. I am confident this whole experience will help keep us connected during super important years.”

Jeston agreed with his dad, expressing his appreciation for the support of his parents, and how building this game and business has brought him closer to them.

“The support of my parents has meant so much,” Jeston said. “They support me in everything I do, and with KNOCK ‘EM. We work through ideas and everything together. It wouldn’t have been possible without them.”

To know more about KNOCK ‘EM, go to knockemgames.com. (Brown is a Serve Daily contributor.)