Patrick Adom is a Ghanaian entrepreneur and founder of Very Puzzled, a 100 piece jigsaw puzzle that focuses on African landmarks. This month Very Puzzled will be launching their next Country puzzle focusing on landmarks of Ethiopia. We caught up with Patrick to learn about this educational game made for Africans by Africans.
What was the inspiration behind Africa JigSaw?
I wanted to inspire myself and motivate myself to do something. I had done some other projects in the past and I felt that it was a good time to do something and felt that I had learned a lot doing other things. I felt that technology had advanced in a way that had made things really convenient to connect with potential customers. All of this and also having a daughter inspired me to think more about the products that I was buying for her and the content that she was being exposed to and the lack of diversity was disappointing so I thought that there was an opportunity for a variety of products. I didn’t just want to complain or petition a big company to produce the products that I wanted and profit from it, I wanted to fill the gap in the market.
How many countries have you launched so far and what other countries could we expect later this year?
So far I am focusing on Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, South Africa and Jamaica. With these six I will have a puzzle, poster, t-shirt and potentially some other products. I will start to add additional countries to the range however this will be dependent on demand as well as the funds to extend the range and the ability to get the products to the individual countries. I don’t see myself doing a puzzle for each country in Africa and the Caribbean however I may do a puzzle for regions such as North Africa, Southern Africa etc.
You have recently/about to launch a map of Ethiopia, can you tell as little about the research process you go through when selecting a country, choosing the key landmarks, attractions and historical aspects that go into the final puzzle designs?
I generally have some idea about each country when I start and then I use Google and Wikipedia to research more about each country. The idea behind the puzzles is to provide a positive reflection of each country so I try and highlight key monuments as well as various cultural artefacts and prominent individuals. I always try and ensure that the puzzles are gender-balanced and that prominent woman is included. The puzzles should act as a conversation starter to get people to explore what they already know about a country and then to go away and do their own research and learn more about each country.
I really enjoyed creating the puzzle of Ethiopia it has such a long and rich history with the Solomonic dynasty and that fact that it has always remained an independent country it holds a special place for all Africans and has been pivotal in the early development of Christianity and Islam and these are some of the things that I want people to know and to explore.
The puzzles are both visually engaging, fun and educational, do you feel that there are enough educational games and toys aimed at a diverse young group particularly the African community?
Thank you, I appreciate the feedback. I don’t think that there is nearly enough and hope that more products are created. I will continue to add new products to the range and hope that other African Caribbean people also start to create new
products that are successful as I think that there is a big enough market for more companies and having additional products will increase the market and also validate the products that are currently available. This should also help parents see that there are products available and encourage them to buy them.
What has been the reception of the Africa JigSaw?
The reception has been really good, I am really humbled that people are buying my products and that shops are happy to stock my products. I had a fear at the back of my mind that I would be stuck with a bunch of puzzles that I couldn’t sell, however, this hasn’t happened. It’s a really great feeling to think of something and take action on it and for the finished product to be available to people and for people to actually, buy the product and spend their precious family time playing with your product.
What have been the challenges and highs of starting a new business?
The main challenge that I have at the moment is getting my products onto the market in Nigeria, South Africa, Ethiopia and Jamaica. At the moment it isn’t feasible to ship my products to these countries as it is quite expensive so am working on how best to do this. The other challenge that I have is trying to get investment to expand my business and increase my product range. Ideally, I would like to add an activity book to the range however I also need to ensure that I can increase sales and improve the marketing of my brand and products. I recently found out that the manufacturer of the product has used my design and made a very similar product for another company, this is one of the risks of having someone else manufacture your products for you. I will be taking action to stop this.
Products can be purchased for a number of independent shops in London such as Zenubian Shop, New Beacon Books, Diverse Gifts, Hub & Culture, This Is Book Love, Pempamsie, Monero Kids Boutique and A.C.E Hackney.
Where can people go to purchase their own Africa JigSaw maps?
There are also stockists in other countries. The best place to go is my website where
you can find a list of stockists, it is also possible to purchase directly from my website.
Where else can people go to follow Africa JigSaw maps?
I am very active on Instagram my handle is @veryverypuzzled.