ChessUp is a smart chess board that can analyze your game and help you make the right moves with its built-in instructional system. Founders Jeff Wigh, Adam Roush, and Justin Farrell pitched their innovative product on season 14 of Shark Tank and got a deal with Lori Greiner. As of 2023, ChessUp is worth an estimated $3 million.
About the Founders
The three entrepreneurs that created the product are from Olathe, Kansas. Jeff Wigh has an MBA from MIT and has worked in the product development teams of Allegro Microsystems, Herzog, and Garmin.
Adam Roush has a BA and BFA in industrial and product design from the University of Kansas. After graduating, he was hired as an industrial designer at Garmin. Roush was promoted to product architect and eventually creative lead.
Justin Farrell has a bachelor’s degree in electronics engineering from DeVry University. Not much is known about his early career, but it is known that he is a programmer and specializes in web development.
Founding the Company
Jeff, Adam, and Justin met because of their jobs and they were hired to work on developing innovative products. The three got along well because they all loved playing chess and everything related to STEM.
When it was time for Jeff to teach his daughter about chess, he and his buddies came up with ChessUp. It is a smart chess board that uses AI features built on Stockfish which is considered the world’s strongest chess AI. When you touch a piece, it lights up the best spots for a move.
The device tracks your moves and gives you instructions on how to improve your game. Chessup was officially launched sometime in 2019 under Bryght Labs, a product development company.
Getting on Shark Tank
605 million adults play chess regularly and ChessUp is one of the few inventions that could help attract more players to the game. But to get it out there, the founders needed to raise money.
In March 2021, they launched a Kickstarter campaign and reached 100% of their funding goal in 25 minutes! By Late 2022, the campaign has raised $1.7 million from 5,657 backers, making it the most funded chess project on the platform.
Apart from capital, the founders need exposure and a partner that could help them break into the market. So, they signed up to be on Shark Tank season 14 and were featured on episode nine of the series.
After Shark Tank
The Kansas trio entered the Tank, hoping to give their invention the justice it deserves. Although the episode only aired in December 2022, the product has got a lot of love from viewers. The company is still fulfilling orders on Kickstarter so there may be a delay with shipping.
The smart chess board is available to buy on several platforms, including Amazon and their website, PlayChessUp.com. You can also order it on Kickstarter, as the campaign is still active. The product retails for $299 and comes with an app.
On Amazon, ChessUp has an average rating of 4.1 stars from six reviews. On Kickstarter the majority of the reviews from backers have been mostly positive with some users praising the quality of materials. Currently, Chessup is thriving and is worth an estimated $3 million.