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Kyle Burton received a cease and desist letter from Wizards of the Coast in 2022 — a letter that prompted the eventual growth of his startup, Card Conjurer.
While in high school, Burton built a website that allowed him to make custom cards for “Magic: The Gathering,” a popular collectable card game. The website grew as Burton continued to add and improve different customization features — until it grew large enough to catch the attention of Wizards of the Coast, the game’s publisher.
Burton, now a Cal Poly software engineering major, received an email from a Wizards of the Coast representative during Fall Quarter of his junior year. The representative ordered the company’s intellectual property to be removed from Burton’s website.
“It was extremely stressful,” Burton said, “and I immediately came to the Hatchery to find some help.”
The Hatchery is a Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) program that teaches Cal Poly students the fundamentals of building a startup. The program provides students with resources that best fit their needs, including intensive workshops, mentorship and, in Burton’s case, legal counsel. The Hatchery connected Burton with an attorney who provided some insight into intellectual property law and reviewed how Burton could address the cease and desist.
In the end, Burton found that he had two options: remove the parts of the website that included Wizards of the Coast’s intellectual property or take down the website in its entirety.
“And because the site was 99% property owned by Wizards of the Coast, I took it down,” Burton said.
But the website didn’t stay down for long. Luckily, Burton already happened to be working on a remake of the website when he received the cease and desist letter.
He launched a new version of his website within the next month.
Card Conjurer is no longer a “Magic: The Gathering” card customizer — it’s a website where users can craft their own custom game cards.
“It’s very generalized,” Burton said. “It’s not a ‘Pokémon’ card maker or a ‘Magic: The Gathering’ card maker… It’s for someone who wants to design their own card game or make something fun, like throwing their pet into their own custom game card.”
The Card Conjurer website allows users to select a template, then start customizing. They can upload their own images; change the colors of the cards; or edit the style, spacing and size of the text.
The website is fully functional, but Burton is using the connections he’s built in the Hatchery to turn Card Conjurer into a sustainable business.
“The Hatchery has helped me grow as an entrepreneur, primarily by forming connections and being a really great place to network,” Burton said. “I’ve been able to get some really great advice from the mentors at the Hatchery regarding monetization.”
The Card Conjurer website is currently free and runs entirely on donations. Burton’s advisors at the Hatchery are helping him identify the best method of monetization for the website. He is currently leaning towards “the freemium route,” which would allow users to continue accessing the website for free and unlock additional features for a small fee.
Burton said he is starting to integrate those paid features into the website. Once the website is fully updated, he said he intends to focus on advertising, leveraging social media and influencer partnerships to drive users to Card Conjurer.
He said he intends to put in the work necessary to make Card Conjurer the new standard for game card customization by scaling the website to include all of the features needed to make a complete card game, then promoting the finished website.
“I want Card Conjurer to be the name that people think of whenever they want to start designing a custom card game,” he said.