By Kevin Saleeba
NEW YORK – Peter Levin has built a successful business on fun and nonsense. He has gone from local startup entrepreneur to national party-game stardom in just a few years of graduating from his StartUp Worcester cohort in 2017.
Levin, a Startup Worcester alum, is the co-creator of Incohearent, a popular adult party board game. The goal of the game is for players to make sense of gibberish words and phrases from different categories ranging from risqué adult topics to general pop culture knowledge.
For instance, a player will hold up a card with the seemingly ridiculous lines like, dome hutch chin firm hey shun. Take a moment to figure it out … If you guessed, too much information, then you understand the basics to the game and why it’s become popular at parties.
“The wildest thing when we first started, we thought games were silly,” Levin said. His first business venture came about seven years ago as a StartUp Worcester cohort with his company Slydde, a company launched in February 2016 in the Worcester Canal District. The goal of that company, which was eventually acquired by the New York City-based Hooch Inc., operated as a digital wallet for customers of local bars and drinking establishments who wanted to avoid waiting in lines and did not want to carry a credit card or collect paper receipts.
After graduating from the StartUp Worcester program in 2017 and completing his time with Slydde, Levin and his partner Javier Quinonez wanted their new business venture to be “fun.” When the idea of creating their own board game happened, they had doubts about their future.
“There’s no business here, right?” he said. “I mean, we grew up playing games, but the switch never turned on in my brain that there’s actually an entire industry behind something that I’ve become to love my entire life.”
The game has since grown into “family-friendly” versions of the game, as well as some strictly “naughty” editions. Levin said many people have even incorporated the game into their drinking parties. Levin recently launched digital versions of his game as well as a TikTok game show called One Stop Trivia.
“The game is supposed to be fun and that’s what we’re about,” he said. “People have remixed it in many different ways. The game comes with 500 of these cards that span all these different categories and it is fun to play with friends and family.”
Levin has also done celebrity partnerships that has increased the exposure of his game. “We’ve had collaborations with big celebrities like Demi Levato. She released her recent album through Incohearent where all of her fans had to decode the songs of her new album.”
As a member of the StartUp Worcester cohort, Levin said he is grateful for the business opportunities the program provided him early in his career. StartUp Worcester is a program that encourages and nurtures new businesses in the Worcester area.
As a successful alum, Levin offered some sage advice to the cohorts of 2023. “The age-old wisdom is that time is the most valuable currency,” he said. “In practice, that means that you should treat time like the most valuable resource, which means in the world of startups, launch ASAP.”
Levin, who does consider his early venture with Slydde to be an unsuccessful one, said startups should not be afraid of releasing an imperfect product. In fact, they should immediately get their ideas out into the world. “Slydde is in the graveyard now,” he said with a sad face. “It may be in the graveyard, but it’s always here,” he said as he pounded his fist to his heart, “and in here,” pointing to his head. “My advice to the new cohorts is to put something that you’re embarrassed about out into the world. This was our failure with Slydde. If we spend months trying to ship a perfect version of the product and then find out that people didn’t want the product, then we wasted time. So, if you cherish time, do yourself a favor and just ship the product … all you need to do is find one person that loves what you’re doing and then go from there.
“We had these like grandiose visions of what a startup should be because of popular media or headlines in articles, but the much more productive way to run an experiment, which is what a startup is,” he continued … “is to put out the bare minimum and then learn from what a single customer tells you. It’s that simple.”
“What is a startup? It’s a research experiment essentially. You have some hypothesis about the world and that you want to prove to be true or false. That same philosophy applies to writing. It applies to a piece of media. It applies to a physical product. It applies to a digital product. It’s all the same.
“Get out there and learn from what the world tells you!”
To learn more about Hunch Studios and all Levin’s new games, TV, and social media programming, visit him and his business at www.hunchstudios.com.