Case Studies

Grants4Growth - Murder Mystery production company are thrilled with grant funding to bring their production in-house

Posted by Social Change on 2018-04-25 00:00

About Red Herring Games

In 2007 Jo Smedley set about trying to raise funding to start up her own coffee shop in Grimsby. As a crime author she had already devised a number of murder mystery games for local church youth groups so thought that selling a few of her well received games would be a good place to start!

To her surprise and delight the Murder Mystery games took off and by 2013 Jo had well and truly shelved the coffee shop idea to focus solely on designing and selling more games, running her own Murder Mystery themed events under the brand name Red Herring Games.

Today Red Herring Games employs a team of three, turns over more than £150,000 and ships board games across the world from its base in Grimsby.

The dinner party games appeal to all ages and the events are proving as popular as ever given the resurgence of interest in Agatha Christie, introducing murder mystery as a genre to a whole new generation.

The Challenge

As demand for Red Herring Games grew so did the strain on production with printers soon hitting full capacity. Jo was forced to start outsourcing much of the production, adding considerable cost, overstock issues and potential delays to her delivery timescales. Margins were reduced and the over dependency on external suppliers meant that Red Herring Games needed to find a more sustainable solution.


The solution

Asked what Red Herring Games planned to do about the outsourcing problem,  Jo said; “We could have tried to recoup some of our increased costs by putting up the price of our games, but that just didn’t make sense to us. We realised that it would be better to invest in our own printers so that we could regain full control of the production process

So in January 2017 after a meeting with an Advisor from Greenborough, Jo decided to contact Grants4Growth and try to secure a grant towards the cost of the new printers.

Of the grant process Jo said, “The application process was very straightforward. All I had to do was outline how we were looking to grow and make the business case for the investment. We knew we were ready to invest so it was just a matter of explaining our plans and our ambitions.  Our Business Advisor took care of most of it and all I really needed to do was sign a few forms and wait!”

Within a couple of weeks Jo received confirmation that they’d been awarded a grant of £8,460, helping them to buy two new printers plus a high capacity guillotine.

It’s now been several months since the new kit was installed and Red Herring Games has seen a dramatic reduction in outsourcing costs. Margins have improved allowing them to become even more competitive and manufacturing turnaround times have fallen significantly. “What used to take days or sometimes even weeks can be turned around in a matter of hours. The print quality is fantastic and we are now so much more confident about expanding into new markets” Joanne added; “It’s no coincidence that our Turnover is up 30% since we made the decision to invest”.

Red Herring Games is in the process of recruiting a fourth member of staff into the team at Grimsby.


What’s next?

As a crime writer it is not surprising that Jo has lots of ideas and plans for Red Herring Games’ future!

Currently Red Herring Games sells their dinner party games and scripts to English speakers across Europe through Amazon but Jo would like to expand the brand further afield and is considering opening new manufacturing facilities in both America and Australia, reducing shipping costs by producing stock closer to the end customers.

She also plans to open an office in Australia and start translating the games into various languages for sale across Europe.

Finally, Red Herring Games has been contracted this year to write for “Crime Con”, a world-renowned crime and thriller themed convention hosted in Nashville, Tennessee.

This will be the second time we’ve worked with Crime Con. It’s a great opportunity for us to raise awareness of the Red Herring Games brand and build interest across the US, which will be central to our long-term growth plans”.


How do I apply?

The Grants4Growth programme is funded through the European Regional Development Fund and is part of the Business Lincolnshire Growth Hub.

Businesses can apply to access the Grants4Growth funding opportunity through their online expression of interest form at

Alternatively, to find out more about the Grants4Growth programme or to enquire about eligibility contact or phone 01775 764813.