Pokémon Go has exploded to become a certified cultural phenomenon. Every businessman, entrepreneur and game designer is watching Pokémon Go with a mixture of excitement and envy. Smart entrepreneurs and businessmen understand that although it appears to be a simple combination of graphics and gameplay, the underlying design is quite complex and well thought out. There is nothing trivial or silly about it. It is the most successful App launch ever seen. The most savvy entrepreneurs and businessmen have quickly realized there are ways to make money from this craze, even if you are not John Hanke (CEO of Niantic and the creator of Pokémon Go,) or Nintendo.
First the basics:
* Pokémon Go tracks player’s location, which forces people to get off your couch, out of their house, and travel to specific locations called PokéStops and Gyms. Good news, those Pokémon players (called Trainers) are real world consumers, and the PokéStops and Gyms are real world destinations.
* Demographic studies show that most Pokémon Trainers/players are 18-35, and cut across all ethnic boundaries. Although there are a significant number of kids playing (and mothers who may be customers,) it means that most of your local Trainer/players have disposable income available.
* A Pokémon Gym is a real world location where Trainers/players must physically travel to, in order to battle other Pokémon. If your store is near a Pokémon Gym, then Trainers/players will be coming to your doorstop. If you have one near you, you probably already know it.
* A PokéStop is a place where Trainers/players can get free in-game tools used in gameplay. Again, if you have one near you, you probably already know it. A PokéStop can also be assigned a Pokémon Lure which attract Pokémon creatures, which in turn attract additional Trainers/players, also known as potential customers. Retailers, restaurants, bars, and coffee shops have all taken advantage of nearby PokéStops. See examples #14, and #18 below.
* The Trainer/players hunt and capture Pokémon of differing rarity and value. The Pokémon have names and unique identities. That opens up possibilities for small business owners such as the bar that offered specific bounties. See example #17 below.
* Once a Player/trainer achieves Level 5, they must choose loyalty to one of three factions, Team Mystic, color Blue; Team Instinct, color Yellow; or Team Valor, color Red. As a businessman, your potential customer has therefore aligned themselves with a color and a team. That means your yellow merchandise suddenly has greater appeal to members of Team Instinct, your red items to Team Valor, and so on.
* Pokémon Go is a battery hog. Trainers/players are constantly draining their phones. This is a problem for them, and an opportunity for you.
* There are Twitter hashtags and Facebook groups for Pokémon fanatics. This means there are very affordable methods to get your message directly to local targeted Trainers/players.
* Lastly, Pokémon Go has been having problems with their servers. Too many people want to play, and Pokémon’s servers have crashed which has led to frustration and thousands of internet memes. Like the game itself, the frustration can be the source of money making ideas. See the T-shirt example #45 below.
So with that out of the way, here are some ways that people and corporations are making money from the Pokémon Go craze. Look down this list. With some imagination, there are opportunities for you too.
1. The first and most obvious way to make money on this craze is to invest in Nintendo. The smartest investors put their money in before it hit big, but nothing breeds success like success. So who knows what will come next.
2. If you own a Restaurant, a Pub, Coffee Shop, Snack Shop, Ice Cream Shop, etc. and you are located near a PokéStop, place a Lure at the PokéStop and place a sign inviting customers to sit and play. If you don’t know how to place a Lure, walk outside, find someone staring intently at their phone, and ask them.
3. Do you have a Restaurant, Coffee Shop, Snack Shop, Ice Cream Shop close to a PokéStop, BUT NOT CLOSE ENOUGH? Station a server at the PokéStop with food samples and discount coupons.
4. Do you have a Restaurant Pub Coffee Shop, Snack Shop, Ice Cream Shop close to a PokéStop, but not close enough, AND is the PokéStop Lure free? Place Lure at PokéStop. Set up a small sign saying you have placed the Lure (build awareness and gratitude for your shop, and increase your “cool” factor,) and that Lures placed at the top of every hour. Invite players to come have a cup of coffee while they wait. Great way to show your support and to build loyalty. This worked wonderfully for a tavern in Fairbanks Alaska. Yes they have Pokémon there too.
5. But what if you have a Restaurant Pub Coffee Shop, Snack Shop, Ice Cream Shop close to a PokéStop, but not close enough, and OTHER STORES are placing Lures? Place a sign at the PokéStop inviting customers to your shop and offer a free phone charging station. Pokémon Go players are often surprised at how quickly their phone battery drains and will flock to you. Be sure to have some fast charge stations for the Galaxy 6 and 7.
6. You don’t need a restaurant. If you own a Retail Store near a PokéStop, you can take advantage as well. Trainers/players do more than drink coffee. They purchase things too. You can place a Lure at the PokéStop and then set up a sign inviting new customers to shop.
7. Pub Crawls are already popping up around Portland Oregon and other cities. Sponsor one if you are a bar or pub.
8. Yelp is already making money from the Pokémon craze. They have installed a filter so players know which stores are near PokéStops. Don’t have one near you? Niantic has a support form on their website that you can use to request a PokéStop or Gym.
9. Are you an expert player? Do you at least know how to set up a Lure? Many shop owners do not know anything about Pokémon Go, and may be technophobic. Offer to set it up for them and monitor it during store hours. I have heard rates running from $50/day to $300/day in service fees.
10. You can do the same for locations that are not located near you if you use a rooted phone and a GPS spoofer. I personally DO NOT endorse this idea. You run the risk of being banned, but the how-to information is already online so I would be remiss if I didn’t list it here.
11. PokéStops include some apartment complexes. Are you the rental agent for an apartment complex? Be sure to place a Lure at your PokéStop.
12. Are you an artist? Offer to paint window art featuring Pokémon in stores and restaurants near PokéStops.
13. El Cid in Silver Lake California, has a Pokémon Gym, and a weekday Pokémon happy hour. Why not you?
14. L’inizio Italian Restaurant in Long Island City, New York, increased sales 75% over a recent weekend by investing $10 in Lures at a PokéStop at their restaurant.
15. The US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville Alabama offers Group discounts to individual Pokémon players who show the App when purchasing tickets. They advertise 22 locations, including three gyms, and suggest that visitors wander and appreciate all the museum has to offer while they are hunting Pokémon.
16. One Pizza parlor offered discounts and free slices based on a player’s level. They quickly learned that freebies were not a good idea.
17. Pints & Pixels in Huntsville Alabama has offered bounties for specific Pokémon caught nearby.
18. AFK Tavern in Everett Washington, a must-go pub for any serious gamer or geek, is the site of a Pokémon Gym. They offer a discount if you are the leader of the gym. They warn against false claims by boasting that 98% of their wait staff plays. Hmmm, what is wrong with the other 2%
19. You can do the same discount as AFK Tavern even if there is no gym on your site. Simply choose a gym nearby and place a sign at the gym advertising your discount.
20. It may be obvious, but if you have a Food truck, park it at a PokéStop and place a Lure.
21. If you have a portable Barista cart, do the same thing.
22. Are you teaching your kids about setting up a lemonade stand? Help them set up at a PokéStop with a Lure.
23. Capitalize on the biggest complaint players have about the game, and set up a mobile charging station near a PokéStop. Best Buy and other outlets sell extra-long chagrining cords so you can set one end in your cigarette lighter and the other can reach out the window. Charge in 15 minute increments.
24. Eggs need to hatch. In order to hatch the player must walk two, five, or ten kilometers based on the type of egg. If you are normally moving a lot for work or pleasure, you can offer to carry and nurse someone’s egg. How? First there has to be security and trust between the hatcher and the player since you will need to sign into their account, but if you can get past that, you can simply sign in on your phone and start moving.
25. Joggers, you can do the same. Golfers too.
26. Do you ride your bicycle to work or for fun? This is a great opportunity for you too.
27. Hey bike messengers, do this to make extra money. Just stay under 10mph or your movement won’t count.
28. Skateboarders, why not place your Craigslist add right now. You could be hatching eggs by tonight.
29. Pokémon are distributed around the world based in some part by location and environment. Water type Pokémon are often found near water. Similarly, other types of Pokémon are often found in other environments. Offer an Uber type service to drive car less players to other areas of town. The going rate seems to be around $20/hr per person.
30. San Francisco Travel is touting their unique Pokémon areas with detailed directions for Pokémon in parks and famous locations.
31. Do you give already tours of your city? You can add Pokémon Tours as a specialty.
32. Do you know the best spots for Pokémon that other people are not aware of? Just like fishing guides who bring tourists to the best places for Tarpon, you can be a Pokémon Guide and bring people to secret PokéStops with rare Pokémon.
33. Start a Pokémon party bus. That could be wild!
34. Be a Remote Pokémon hunter. Someone from Kansas may want to see if San Diego has Pokémon rarely seen in the Midwest. Trainer/players on Reddit are already bemoaning the difference in Pokémon spawning habits between NYC and Chicago. Similar to nursing eggs, a safe exchange of information is required, but it is certainly not rocket science. Be aware, this is not specifically addressed in the terms of agreement, but if it’s a violation, you may be banned.
35. Target is selling Pokémon T-shirts. They have the license and the products. Now Pokémon is trendy again.
36. Kohl’s is selling Pokémon Backpacks.
37. Hot Topic, the bastion of pop culture merchandise, is selling T-shirts, socks, underwear, earrings, and many other items.
38. Fathead.com is selling Pokémon Wall decals.
39. Party City is selling Pokémon piñatas. There will be a lot of Pokémon parties this summer.
40. According to Gizmodo, McDonalds has a deal that will set up every McDonalds as either a PokéStop or Pokémon Gym. Supposedly the partnership will soon make its debut in Japan. Makes sense since most McDonald’s have Wi-Fi and Nintendo and McDonald’s have a history of doing promotions together.
41. With McDonald’s as a proof-of-concept, other sponsorships may be on the way.
42. Expect sponsored specialty items such as rare Pokémon as well.
43. Are you older than 30? Were you a Pikachu fan when you were a child? Sell your old childhood Pokémon stuff on eBay to a new younger audience. Special editions and unopened games seem to bring in the best prices.
44. If you are artistic, you can design and sell red, yellow, and blue t-shirts for teams Valor, Mystic, and Instinct. Design them, and then use a print on demand service such as Café Press for production and fulfilment.
45. Or, take advantage of the sever issues and design t-shirts with slogans such as “I’m only here because the Pokémon server is down.”
46. If you are a bit naughty, you can take your T-Shirt design a step further with slogans such as “Stop playing with your balls!” and “I wish my husband went down as often as the Pokémon servers.”
47. Alibaba.com has dozens of backpack manufacturers with small MOQ (minimum order quantity) which you can use to create Team Valor, Instinct, or Mystic backpacks.
48. Alibaba.com has manufacturers of water bottles at very low prices and available in Yellow, Red, and Blue. Do you sense an opportunity?
49. Alibaba.com also has manufacturers of Figurines. You can set up an Amazon shop and be a specialty Pokémon store.
50. Many Trainers/players are spending more time in the sun than they realize. Alibaba.com has manufacturers of inexpensive promotional item priced sunscreen available in Red, Yellow, and Blue. Sell them or give them away with your store name on them.
51. Are you a bakery or cake decorator? Bake and sell Pokémon themed cakes. Or bake and sell cake pops decorated as Pokémon balls.
52. Can you sew? Make Team Valor, Team Instinct, or Team Mystic bandanas for dogs.
53. Can you knit? Make Pokémon hats.
54. Can you make homemade bath bombs? Pokémon bath bombs would be a hit. Sell them online.
55. Are you a Pokémon intermediate player? Write a How-To guide for beginners. Post it online and sell display ads.
56. Are you a Pokémon expert? Write a strategy guide for experienced players. Post it online and sell display ads.
57. Are you ethically gray? Write a cheating guide. Post it online and sell display ads.
58. Are you good at sewing? Create Pokémon cosplay outfits.
59. Do you own a Barbershop or salon? Offer Pokémon style haircuts.
60. As long as you are already walking for Pokémon Go, talk to your neighbors and offer to be a dog walker.
61. And since you are already walking, and you like dogs, sign up for charity apps like Wooftrax.com. Money is donated to animal shelters for every mile you walk, and you are already walking to catch Pokémon and hatch eggs.
62. Another way to take advantage of walking is to register for Wegolook.com. This is a service where you visually “look” at things on behalf of remote buyers. Check it out.
63. Did you love the Ice-cream truck as a kid? Become a mobile retailer and sell Pokémon merchandise at PokéStops. Bring your truck, a display, and Lures. You can even play music. Please tell me that you know that Pikachu song. Make a schedule, and post your schedule ahead of time at each of the stops. Have a friend set Lures 15 minutes before you arrive, then show up with 15 minutes to sell. Time it right and you can easily do 20 stops a day.
64. Alibaba.com has many ball cap manufacturers with small MOQ (minimum order quantity) which you can use to create Team Valor, Instinct, or Mystic caps.
65. Sell Pokémon plush toys (from Alibaba.com) from your mobile store.
66. Sell Pokémon Team themed mobile power banks (from Alibaba.com) from your mobile store. Make your customers happy by pre-charging them.
67. Are you are Retailer too far from a stop? Set up a pop-up shop.
68. Create Pokémon theme birthday parties for kids. Be the one stop shop for moms. You supply everything from paper plates and cake to decorations and party gifts. All with a Pokémon Go theme. Mom just hires you, and you do all the rest.
69. If you are good with coding, pulling data, and API’s, you can put up a site that shows local Pokémon server status and weather reports for people considering venturing out on Pokémon hunts. Monetize it with display ads.
70. Some people are selling their accounts, already leveled up. eBay and Craigslist has postings, with accounts unaffiliated with Teams going for the most. This may violate terms of agreement however, so warning, you may get banned.
71. Be Pikachu at events. You can buy a Pikachu mascot costume for as little as $50.
72. Are you an outdoor personal trainer? Incorporate Pokémon Go into your on-the-go workouts. Pokémon Go has proven the success of gamification of exercise and fitness.
73. Are you an indoor personal trainer? Incorporate Pokémon Go egg hatching into indoor track workouts.
74. Be a 1:1 teacher for new users. Advertise on Craigslist.
75. Do you practice sports medicine? There will be a lot of people walking who have never gotten off their couch before. Advertise to first time Pokémon players.
76. Are you a chiropractor? Same thing goes for you. New clients are out there ready to limp in. Pokémon players are very keyed in to social media.
77. Are you a Physical Therapist? Incorporate Pokémon Go into your rehab routines. Swedish Medical Hospital in Seattle has incorporated Pokémon Go into rehab work for some child burn victims and are thrilled with the response. C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Michigan is using Pokémon Go to encourage children to move and bend during Physical Therapy.
78. Do you do foot massage? Set up at PokéStops. You will be heaven sent for many tired Pokémon hunters.
79. Design and sell bumper stickers and window decals for teams Valor, Mystic, and Instinct.
80. Make and sell Pokémon Team badges so team members can find each other at Gyms and Pokestops. Pokémon Trainer/players are making new friends, and being on the same team is a great icebreaker. Help them identify each other with a team badge they can wear.
81. BONUS. Love is in the air and Pikachu is playing cupid. For a small fee, POKEDATES will set you up on dates with other Trainers/players.
Now that you have all these ideas, look for Pokémon groups. Portland is hosting family friendly gathering at a city park with thousands of people indicating they are interested in going. This is a bonanza for anyone selling merchandise. Arrive with a mobile charging station. Tweet about it, message your local Pokémon Facebook groups. Use social media. Buy targeted advertising on Facebook, and use Pokémon as one of your keywords. The phenomenon is real.
Please note: Pokémon, Pokémon Go, PokéStops, Nintendo, Niantic, Pikachu, and all images and characters associated are trademarked and protected property of the original owners. All images and references used is in this article are for editorial purposes only and are not meant to imply permission or authority to use.