10×10 Spotlight: Red Herring Games

The Game Playing Business

Jo Smedley murders people for a living. Really. To explain, her business, which she set up in 2007, creates and sells imaginative murder mysteries (or just mysteries in which case Jo Smedley does not murder anyone). The market for these role-play stories is interestingly diverse: everyone from people wanting fun and engaging entertainment for their dinner party, to group leaders wanting recreation activities for their social clubs, to trainers and coaches who use them in corporate team building exercises. People get to assume roles, play out the stories, and solve mysteries.

Based in Grimsby, Jo’s office is staffed with 3 full-time and 3 part-time creative people (and 3 dogs). Why did Jo start this unusual business? While working in the NHS, she discovered not just a talent but a personal pleasure in writing imaginative, creative mystery adventures for people to act out. One thing led to another and, today, Red Herring Games has around 20 freelance writers on their books (‘writing does pay!’ says Jo) and has ambitions to grow to a multinational business (Jo’s already made significant inroads in the USA). But on one thing Jo is very clear: ‘the business is more than me, it’s a collaboration of different personalities and interests, and we are 100% customer-focused.’

The 10×10 programme, according to Jo, is arming her with a portfolio of new ideas and concepts to apply to the business with the aim of making Red Herring Games the best in the business.

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