The Story of the Noteboard
I'm Simon Rogers, and this is the story of The Noteboard.
Chapter One: A Clean Slate, The Short Version
One day, Robin Thomas, a 24-year-old Stanford drop-out, invented The Noteboard in a cluttered basement of a shared house in Virginia. Lots of people were impressed by Robin's audacious single-handed underdog story, and his excellent customer service, but even more so with The Noteboard itself. The Noteboard appeared in a bunch of media outlets, but most of Robin's sales came not from news websites, but from one simple phrase, posted on Facebook, Twitter and even Google+. "This is really cool." And it really is.
Chapter Two: The Game's Afoot
A couple of years later, through the wiles of social media, two people in my weekly tabletop game group each bought a Noteboard to the gaming table the same night. Now, I run ProFantasy Software with Mark and Ralf, and I love, love, love maps for games - we make mapping apps for that purpose - but sometimes something a blank sheet and a pen is what you need. And this is the perfect white space for your imagination to fill. It was just begging to be drawn on. And if your imagination needs more room, you can rub it out, fold it up and put it in your pocket.
Chapter Three: A Noteable Success
I googled The Noteboard the next day and bought one. The day after it arrived, I told Mark and Ralf, my friends and colleagues at ProFantasy about it, and we were all rather excited. I took a close look at Robin's website and detected the subtle signs that Robin was interested in selling up, becoming Professor Noteboard Emeritus, perhaps sipping some mojitos on a beach somewhere. We got even more excited. We always want to sell things we love to use ourselves, so The Noteboard was perfect.
Two weeks of negotiation later, both sides ended with a sweet deal. Robin still benefits from The Noteboard but now he has time to sip mojitos, too. We get to think of new ideas for The Noteboard; we want a Noteboard in every classroom, in every office and in every game cupboard.
Chapter Four: The Future
The future is a blank Noteboard. What are you waiting for?
I saw a Noteboard and thought it was brilliant.
I read Robin's story (the long version) and it struck a chord.
I heard he was interested in selling and knew straight away that this was what I wanted. Noteboards are my calling!
I am Mark. I am very good at aptitude tests, can do well at exams too, but I am not at all academic. That contradiction took me more than seven miserable years at the best state school in the country and three drop-outs from very good universities to understand.
Aged 20, as well as dropping out, I dropped off a cliff. Literally. One moment I was pootling down a ski run, then I was mid-air and the next bit of ground was 70’ feet below. In the following 2.1 seconds I thought nothing except this is going to hurt, this is going to really hurt. And hurt it did, but at the time I didn’t realise where most. Now I know that while the physical wounds took a year and ten operations to heal, the mojo took much more. My legs were not seen in public for 10 years. [click here if you like gruesome photos]
How did my mojo heal? Friendship, Simon’s in particular, and, though it sounds corny, realisation that happiness is something you can pursue deliberately.
A list of ten things that make me happy, in the order they arrived: Skiing (yes, still). My friends. Canada. Giving people outstanding service. Finding I’m good at something. Sailing. Learning, developing and refining an intricate system. My wife. My children. The Noteboard. [click here if you like nice photos]
I was born in 1967, I live in London, am married with two kids, and I play games once a week, every week. My vocation is asking people politely to do things they can do better than me, which they then do more often than not.
I left university with no clear plan. I'd always loved playing roleplaying games, and had for many years run an epic AD&D campaign - The Jaw Peninsula. I'd hand-drawn a large poster map and after a few years it became tatty, so Mark Fulford, long-time friend and game group member painstakingly recreated it.
Later, Mark sold CAD systems (computers with pre-installed software). So, the idea of combining Mark's knowledge of CAD with roleplaying to create campaign maps was attractive. This never would have happened without the two of us working together.
The difficulty was finding a CAD program which was even vaguely close in price was the main problem. Enter Mike Riddle, creator of AutoCAD and later FastCAD and EasyCAD. He was willing to take a risk on us, allowing us to have a license to FastCAD at a price which enabled us to resell it to gamers, and only 200 or so licenses all told. So in 1993, ProFantasy Software was founded. Master cartographer Ralf Schemmann made a job for himself by sheer imagination and persistence, and is now the solid core of our company.
In 2001, Mark and I co-founded Pelgrane Press Ltd - we publish roleplaying games. Cthulhu, vampires, superheroes, you name it. In 2010, we launched a genre fiction line, Stone Skin Press. 18 years on, I am making a living from doing the job 12-year-old me would have been crazy for. And slightly older me is still very much in tune with twelve-year-old me.
I’m a 40ish German freelance map-maker and the general manager of ProFantasy Software Ltd. An academic historian by training, role-playing games were only a hobby until I came into contact with Simon and Mark, the creators of this fabulous map-making software called Campaign Cartographer. I jumped at the chance when they offered me the opportunity to earn my living using my hobbyist skills. Having now worked for and with Mark and Simon for over ten years, I'm very excited to be a partner on this new venture.
Outside work, my interests are wide-spread and range from hiking, archery and tennis on the physical side to history, literature and fantasy role-playing as more cerebral pursuits. Role-playing remains the core hobby and I was initially excited about The Noteboard because lots of idea come to my mind how to leverage it for that. But the longer I think about it, the clearer it becomes how useful it can be for all kinds of jobs and situations.
I look forward to getting The Noteboard into many drawing, scribbling and writing hands across the globe.