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Former Wisconsin soccer player uses competitiveness to go ‘bankrupt’ | Wisconsin

AJ Taylor has dabbled in several career paths, but the former University of Wisconsin wide receiver’s latest venture “punched him in the face.”

There’s a backstory to Taylor’s new card game, broke, which has to do with the end of his time in Madison. Taylor finished his UW career with 89 catches for 1,316 yards and 10 touchdowns, but he tore his Achilles tendon in the 2019 Badgers win in Minnesota and ended his college career early by missing the Big Ten Championship Game and the Rose Bowl.

Taylor was not drafted in the 2020 NFL event and did not sign as a free agent. He worked for teams to attract attention hoping to land a contract. He recalled that these stays in hotels have been lonely, especially given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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But it also sparked his already creative spirit.

“That started my whole journey,” Taylor said. “So there’s a lot of times where you just don’t do anything and you’re like, ‘What am I doing?’ I know I train for the NFL, but I wanted to do something more.”

To fund his education, the former badger branched out into videography and photography, but he didn’t know how to start a business, so he continued to work as a freelancer. During the time he was training for teams, he developed an earlier competitive party game, What’s Next.

Receiving positive feedback, Taylor began researching how to start a business and then the wheels kept turning.

“I was like, ‘Okay, of course you need a good idea or some creativity,'” Taylor said. “And I said, ‘It’s going to be hard work,’ and I said, ‘You know what? You need someone who can take care of your taxes.’ So you need an accountant, and then you need people who enjoy what you create. You need to enjoy your product or service, so you need happy customers.”

However, Taylor lacked one thing: capital.

“I don’t have any money,” Taylor said, “and while I was trying to brainstorm how I could make money, I also thought, ‘Okay, what if I just created something that was a little cheaper to make , but you could mix it up anywhere and play like that.

“Just for the fact that I was thinking of something else, ‘Bankrupt’ hit me in the face. It just slapped me in the face and I was like, ‘Oh, what if I made a game based on the entrepreneurial journey?’”







AJ Taylor photo

Former University of Wisconsin wide receiver AJ Taylor invented a new card game, “Bankrupt”.


COURTESY OF AJ TAYLOR


The game itself revolves around collecting the five types of fortune cards – creativity, hard work, capital, great accountant, and happy customers – without owning a bankrupt card. The packaging is similar to what is seen when opening a UNO deck, with the cards themselves measuring approximately 2½ inches by 3½ inches. The box notes that it takes about 15 minutes to play, can be played between 2 and 6 people, and is suitable for ages 8+.

It took about a year from the idea to the delivery of the first games. Taylor taught at Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, Missouri, where he previously emerged as a four-star Rivals nominee before signing with UW, and his journey there helped further flesh out the product.

Taylor listed several checkpoints to overcome during the process from idea to distribution of the product. He completed the physical aspects and worked on Adobe Illustrator to adjust the dimensions for the box and wrapping. He ordered samples of the product for quality control and feedback.

Taylor also had to build the business. This included determining the correct name and logo, forming an LLC, and registering for sales tax. He also fought an internal aspect of the development.

“And I think there’s just a mental and emotional side that’s like, ‘Can I do that? Is that good enough?’” Taylor said. “And these are also necessary checkpoints. Overcoming the fear of, ‘This doesn’t look really good, or this looks really good.’ And for me I did all the creation, I did all the artwork, I did all the names.

“Knowing that I did it, there’s a bit of fear and uncertainty for me.”

Taylor overcame those hurdles, and along with further feedback from people who tested it, took the plunge and went into production. He invested nearly $5,000 and raised over $4,000 ordering the decks.

“Then I could get the games,” Taylor said. “I could just spend the money on the games, I could start figuring out what it takes to ship them to people, ship the games to people, because not really knowing the business I didn’t have any very smart ones and strategic business plan.

“I just thought I want people to play the game, you know? I just want people to enjoy themselves and have a good time. I haven’t really thought much about how to do that. To be honest, I’m in the process right now.”

Taylor’s entrepreneurial spirit continues as he currently works full-time at Lifted Logic, a full-service digital agency in Kansas City. Taylor, a communications arts major at UW with a focus on television, radio and film, told reporters during the December 2019 Rose Bowl availability that he was considering getting into the show business industry. Though he may later still be interested in movies, his current path takes him into the world of card games, which has the ability to bring people together.

While Taylor continues to think about how to further distribute outside of his Gambit Games LLC website and currently a few shops, the former bankruptcy trustee does not see himself as a game creator per se, but rather as an opportunist.

“I’m just looking for a way to make things competitive. I think that’s just who I am,” Taylor said. “I like to compete. And when we’re not competing, when we’re just sitting around, I think it’s like, ‘Okay, let’s have some fun with it.'”

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