Air Force veteran turns card game idea into small family business

What started as a family card game experiment on Christmas Day in 2011 has turned into a small family business for a local Air Force veteran.

Beavercreek resident Wayne Mathieu is the creator of Synco, which he describes as a family-friendly card game for all ages.

Players are given a category and asked to write down five things that fit within that category. The goal is to get as many of the same answers as the other players as possible. The trick is to anticipate what the other people around the table are thinking, and “sync up” to score points, Mathieu said.

“Synco’s charm is how it gets everyone excited about being on the same page, it fills the room with joy and chatter as people celebrate syncing up,” Mathieu said.

Mathieu began developing Synco in 2012, after a family experiment with different card game rules on Christmas Day 2011 led to the creation of “Cinco Sync,” and the game’s current five-item format. Later, the name was changed to Synco, and simplified to just a single card per round.

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“Synco is a game anyone can play and enjoy together. That seems especially valuable today,” Mathieu said. “It’s meant for all ages and backgrounds — because it’s not about what you know, but what you have in common.”

A retired lieutenant colonel and aeronautical engineer, Mathieu said that at the beginning of his journey he knew a lot about the business of working with the government, but not a lot about pursuing a small independent startup. Mathieu teamed up with his son Mike and family friend Eli Reich, both from Washington, to do design work and marketing for the game. The Mathieus also partnered with a local store, The Game Haven in Riverside, to fulfill orders locally.

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Production of Synco hit a snag in 2021, when the original manufacturer of the game in China said that due to supply chain and transportation problems, there was no guarantee when the Mathieus would receive their first print production of the game. Instead, the family switched to Florida-based game manufacturer Shuffled Ink, to complete the first print run of Synco. To date, the team has sold over 100 copies of the game.

“We seem to live in chaotic times, but everyone I met along the way, everyone I called was ready and willing to offer their help or offer advice.”

Synco is available via the game’s website, syncogame.com and through The Game Haven on Airway Road.

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