Going all in: Playing their cards right

In the midst of their middle school life, John Chou and Tyler Xu felt a sense of nostalgia — a combination of joy and reminiscence — when they played their favorite childhood games. Now, as seniors, the two took an innovative approach to transform regular playing cards, channeling that childhood passion into a business: Transflux Playing Cards.

In 2017, Xu and Chou began designing their cards and creating the business during their sophomore year. Transflux Playing Cards was inspired by Xu and Chou’s interest in cardistry, a game in which cards are flourished in an aesthetic pattern. The design of the cards are made to look innovative and modern and has a color scheme of different shades of blue, black and white to resemble water and ice. Xu and Chou went through multiple procedures such as designing and funding the cards to start their company. They finished the design process in August 2019.

“We were trying to figure out how we could make [playing cards] better,” Xu said. “We wanted a product to fulfill both our interests, and then we could market that toward other people.”

Xu and Chou brainstormed ideas for the design in which they made hand-drawn sketches which were finalized using Adobe Illustrator. In order to make their card patterns unique, they created a new back, a new tuck case to hold the cards and new faces. Later, they made final touches, including the addition of four edge triangles on the cards that makes flourishing the cards appear more aesthetic. After designing the cards, Xu and Chou contacted manufacturing and shipment warehouses. Finally, they put their cards on Kickstarter, a crowdfunding campaign in which people financially support the product. 

“It’s a really great learning experience for me. It showed me that entrepreneurship is a really fun field to explore,” Xu said. “It’s more of a hands-on experience, and you understand how to solve problems.”

Xu and Chou set a goal of $4,400 and have received $6,800 on Kickstarter, selling their cards for $13 a deck. With other wholesale companies contacting them, they had to determine the price they wanted to sell their product at without losing money along the way. Ending Nov. 18, 2019, the Kickstarter campaign allowed Xu and Chou to advance to the production stage. They plan on selling 1,000 – 1,200 decks the first round. These playing cards are sold to all countries, but most of their customers are from the U.S., Canada, France, Britain, Spain, Germany and Singapore.

“We plan on taking this company further. We talked [about how] we see us having different versions of our own, but we’re just taking it a step at a time,” Chou said.  “We spent a long time designing the cards, and now we’re managing the production part which takes an hour a day at most.”

Afterward, the cards would go through the production stage in which they pay the production company, United States Playing Card Company (USPCC), 80 percent of the money they raised from Kickstarter to print the card decks to be sold to their backers. The other 20 percent of their funds are being saved to cover shipping to backers. 

“Sometimes, if I get an idea, I would contact John. We would work it out and make it even better, or [realize that] it wasn’t such a good idea after all,” Xu said. “We bounce ideas off of each other. It’s all mostly trial and error for us.” 

Transflux is currently in the production stage in which they pay USPCC to print the decks. Xu and Chou are currently working on their company’s website but are active on their Instagram account, @transfluxdeck. 

“It is a symbol of our friendship because we’re going to head off to different colleges next year,” Chou said. “It’s a good representation of our creativity. It goes to show that if you want to do something and put your mind to it, you can make it happen.”

By Freda Lei, Staff writer
Photo by Isaac Le