Meet the Warwick dropout hoping to make millions from Pokémon mats

A wild playing mat appears!


If you’ve ever been sat in a lecture and realised you’ve got no idea what the hell is going on, you’ll probably understand how Warwick dropout Joe Bernard felt.

He said: “I studied psychology because it was my favourite school subject, but the university course was very different. I was never inspired by it so decided to leave uni in the first term of second year.”

Since dropping out of Warwick, Joe has started his own business selling playmats to Pokémon card players, a niche venture he insists is an untapped market.

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“I was looking to purchase a playmat but would have had to buy one from American which would have cost $30 just to ship. I asked around some friends at Pokémon tournaments and a bunch of people felt there was a need to replicate the American business here in the UK.

“I know my target market very well, and there’s little-to-no competition. Start-up costs have been relatively low and there are decent profit margins given it’s a fairly niche and luxury product.”

Gamers send their custom designs to Joe for him to print

Gamers send their custom designs to Joe for him to print

Joe aims to have his business, Live Lethal, up and running in the next month. “I know the name sounds more gruesome than you’d expect from a playmat-making company but ‘lethal’ is a term used when you’ve beaten your opponent in a popular online card game called Hearthstone. Card gamers will be familiar with it.”

“At the moment I’m a month from starting properly, we just have to wait for the website to be finished. People will email me through my website with their own designs of images and then I’ll transfer those onto plain white playmats (which are basically over-sized mousemats) with a special printer and heat press. It’s a similar process to how dye-sublimation t-shirts are made.”

Joe says he misses his friends from uni but doesn't regret dropping out

Joe (centre) misses his friends from uni but doesn’t regret dropping out

Although uni didn’t work out for Joe, he still feels it’s the safest route for young people to follow. “You basically shit a bunch of doors by not getting a degree so if you’re unsure of what you want to do I think you can’t under-estimate the importance of a degree. That said, I did find the uni experience to be over-rated.”

Despite this there are still certain aspects of university which Joe admits he misses. “I made some great friends at uni who I don’t really get to see anymore. But, I wasn’t happy with my course and didn’t want to carry on just for the sake of it, especially as uni is so expensive. Setting up the business has been challenging but hopefully I’ll see the fruits of my labours soon enough.”