Classic games like Monopoly and Connect 4 are crowd-pleasers, but when you’ve played them your entire life, you eventually want variety. That’s why we’re always excited to welcome new, innovative games – especially Latine-owned – to our center table. One of the most modern card games? Tragos. Launched in 2019, this card game connects culture and drinks to get the party going. We can see it being a hit at family reunions this Nochebuena!
To get a better insight into the Tragos game and its starting process, we talked to Carolina Acosta, the Colombiana-Dominicana who brought her bicultural vision to life. Acosta was immersed in the vibrancy Queens, New York has to offer, which has seen her bring Tragos Games to life.
Living in an immigrant household, she learned Spanish first. However, she became acclimated to the American culture too.
“It wasn’t until I experienced South America for the first time in 2018 that I reconnected with this identity,” the founder of Tragos Games told BELatina News in a recent interview.
That’s when she met her current business associate, who introduced her to the idea of her first product: a cultural drinking game. Tragos is about to turn four, so it is evident that this Latina-owned business knows how to run things.
Aside from learning about her journey with Tragos, she also talked about her next goal which includes creating a game house to help BIPOC entrepreneurs with their ideas.
Here’s how the rest conversation went:
What prompted you to create Tragos Games?
I was so excited about this idea because I personally love tabletop games. The idea also made me realize that there weren’t a lot of products out there that spoke to someone like me. I had to make this game if not for anyone, just for myself! It wasn’t until I started promoting the concept of the game on social media that I realized there were a lot of people that felt just like me: wanting more representation for their dual identities as U.S. Hispanics. It’s been part of the Tragos mission ever since to cater to our underrepresented community and make everyone feel united by embracing our similarities through a fun time.
What did the beginning stages of Tragos look like? Walk us through the process of creating to inspire emerging Latina entrepreneurs.
I started promoting Tragos just on social media ads (with a tiny budget put on my personal credit card) to learn if there was any market fit. It was amazing to see just how many other Latinos engaged with our ads, sharing that they could all truly relate to this game. This engagement quickly turned into orders and as soon as we had enough pre-order sales, I used that revenue to purchase our first batch of inventory. It’s scary to think that anyone trusted me enough to pay for a product that didn’t really exist yet, but it gave me the push I needed to make it happen quickly and self-funded.
I was fortunate enough to at least have manufacturing knowledge from my design experience, so it was fairly easy to send over print files to my supplier and receive the product I had in mind. Everything else had learning curves: like learning how to print shipping labels, understanding the cost of goods and margins, and more. It required a lot of asking, reading, and Googling.
Lastly, when traction started to pick up, I had to quickly learn how to hire, which is honestly one of the hardest parts of being an entrepreneur. If I could do it again, I would start with building my network – telling everyone who will listen about my business and hearing recommendations for tools and people to work with rather than trying to do so much on my own so early on.
Who did you first play the game with – and what was their reaction?
I first played the game with my boyfriend’s friends, well after it was out on the market! The only feedback I had gotten before was that the cards were fun to read and relatable. I found out through social media that people really did enjoy playing and it was always a hit at game night. I was too scared to play myself so I took everyone’s word for it.
About a month after we were shipping out the games, my boyfriend invited me to his house at the time and I played with a lot of his friends – many of whom I was meeting for the first time that night. It was so much fun! It was a mix of Latinos and non-Latinos, which was perfect because the Latinos completely understood every reference, enjoyed all the challenges, and were quick to explain any words or jokes to our friends. It was a night of fun, laughter, dancing, and everything Tragos stands for, which made me fall even more in love with my business, and probably what made my boyfriend fall more in love with me.
What do you think is Tragos’ biggest appeal?
The biggest appeal Tragos has is the storytelling aspect of the game. Every card introduces an opportunity for people to find something in common with each other and then share their experiences about that commonality. It’s also set in a fun way: offering drinking to further break the ice, and is written to laugh at the things we all know are funny because they’re true. We’ve combined the aspects of conversation starter games with meme language to really make for moments of bonding and humor.
Can anyone play this game or are there some limitations?
While Tragos’ tagline is “The Party Game Para Latinos,” it really can be played by anyone alongside our community. Can a group of just white folk play the game? Probably not. You need someone to explain certain references or translate a few Spanglish cards here and there. But can non-Latino significant others or friends join during game night and have fun? Absolutely!
On another note, the game is usually played with alcohol, but we encourage playing with any beverage and have seen/enjoyed a good time by just playing with cafecito or mocktails. We aim to further remove these limitations through new games, like our competitive, bilingual game: Get Loud. More info is below!
What’s your favorite part of Tragos?
My favorite part of Tragos is seeing how it positively affects my community nationwide! I love seeing the conversations and bonding that come from playing. It still feels so special getting tagged on stories and posts of people thanking us for a fun night with their friends and family.
Best of all, many Latinos/es, including those born in the U.S., those that don’t speak Spanish, those who grew up 2nd generation, and on – they will find something that speaks to them in our games.
What is your end goal with Tragos?
In February 2023, it’ll be four years since we launched. I can’t believe it’s been that long already! My No. 1 goal next year is to get Tragos and Get Loud into more hands by landing in bigger retail locations. By reaching this milestone, we’ll be able to scale our team, release more games that have been on hold, and eventually create a game house that invites other BIPOC entrepreneurs to launch their products with our support and network. This end goal will help scale other businesses my team and I have in mind and further strengthen our ability to make a social impact on our community.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the BELatina News audience?
The holidays are here and we have great sales going on. Tell your friends, amigos, tías, abuelos! We are also currently working to support a Latino education organization through a campaign for Get Loud, our newest bilingual guessing game that also acts as a great language learning tool. Get Loud is fast-paced, competitive, and perfect for anyone who wants to play in either English or Spanish en la familia. It’s quickly becoming the new best-seller so don’t walk, run! You can find more details on our website and social media very soon!
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