About Unsolved Case Files - The True Story (2024)

Partners in Crime

Hi. This is John Carroll and Lou Wilson, we’re the inventors and founders of Unsolved Case Files. What follows is the true story of how this business came to be.

We’ve been friends since high school in the late 90’s. Although we followed separate paths after graduation, the two of us hooked up in 2016 to start a company inventing new products to sell on Amazon.

​Before inventing Unsolved Case Files, we made a bunch of products that all failed miserably.

Our wives were growing weary of the long hours and savings invested into a business that kept losing money, but we refused to quit until we had a winner.

The Idea Develops

We recognized the growing interest in true crime and wanted to create a product for that market. We were midway through development of a product about serial killers when we had a change of heart. We decided we didn't want to glorify murderers. And if anyone in the true crime arena should be honored, it’s the investigators who catch the killers and bring justice to the family members left behind.

About Unsolved Case Files - The True Story (1)Logo Concept Mockups

​Our first thought was to make replicas of case files for real unsolved murders. We thought true crime enthusiasts would enjoy reading through a case file that looked and felt like the real thing. Maybe along the way we could even help solve a few cases. As we explored the concept, we realized how incredible it would be to make cold cases that could give everyone the thrill of catching a killer. That led us to the idea of writing our own cases and turning it into a game.

Turning a case file full of documents and pictures into something you play is anything but simple. We spent months brainstorming how to make an experience that not only felt authentic but was also interactive and fun. We wanted to immerse players into a story and deliver an experience more exciting than a Hollywood blockbuster.

The First 14 Cases

About Unsolved Case Files - The True Story (2)The first 14 cases.

Eventually, our concept evolved into a real workable case with a realistic-looking case file and a three-step process to provide plot twists and release new evidence as detectives work through the case. We also developed an online answer key so you can test theories without spoiling the answer and get hints if you're stuck.

After six months of hard work, we sent our first 14 prototypes of the Harmony Ashcroft Case to Amazon. (It was supposed to be 15 but John sliced his finger cutting crime scene photos and there was too much blood to sell one of them.)

We sold that first batch of cases in a week and got the feeling we might be onto something.

So we started making them in batches of 25, 50, and eventually 100 at a time on our kitchen tables.

Initial sales were promising and we could barely keep up, but we did our best (thanks to a lot of help from our wives and children).

Things Start Going Viral

About Unsolved Case Files - The True Story (3)

Things got a little crazy about 2 months after we sold our first case because several of our fans' social media posts started going viral.

At one point we went from 24 Facebook fans to 24,000 in 24 hours!

​We’d been struggling to make 100 case files a week and suddenly found ourselves getting hundreds of inquiries a day from people all over the world who wanted to buy one.

Did we mention Lou's wife was 9 months pregnant at the time?

The First UCF Factory

It was clear we no longer had a kitchen-counter project on our hands, so we hired a team of assemblers and set up a factory in Lou’s father-in-law’s half-finished farmhouse a week after the first post went viral on Facebook.

​As if that wasn’t enough excitement, Lou’s wife delivered their first child three days after we opened the factory!

​Growing the Team

About Unsolved Case Files - The True Story (4)

In the months that followed, we continued to make new cases, improve product materials and develop our production capabilities.

​We also started growing our team with some of the finest people you'll ever meet. A few of our first hires were:

  • Winchelle - Customer Service Manager
  • Amy - Production Manager
  • Bonnie Daly - Lead Writer
  • Haruki Ito - Graphic Designer

Don't ask us how we found such talented and hard-working people so quickly. Seems like we just got really lucky.

New Partnerships & Opportunities

About Unsolved Case Files - The True Story (5)

About Unsolved Case Files - The True Story (6)

About Unsolved Case Files - The True Story (7)

In August of 2019, just seven months after our first sale, we partnered with international game distributors, Goliath Games and The Pressman Toy Corp. This partnership has enabled us to get Unsolved Case Files on the shelves of Walmart, Target and numerous other national retail stores.

Continuing to Grow

We outgrew the barn and moved production into an office complex in September of 2019.

We've also continued to hire more case assemblers, customer service associates and other integral members of our team.

​And in June of 2020, we outgrew our space once again and moved the factory into a 6000 sq. ft. standalone warehouse facility in Tampa, FL.


So What's Next?

About Unsolved Case Files - The True Story (8)

So far it’s been a hell of a ride. But we’re just getting started.

​The positive feedback we keep receiving from all the fans out there keeps us going day and night.

As long as there’s still detectives ready to solve them, we won’t stop making Unsolved Case Files.

Thanks for being a part of the UCF story.

​John Carroll & Lou Wilson
Unsolved Case Files

​​

About Unsolved Case Files - The True Story (2024)
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