People I Know: Leonardo Ortega

Lenonardo Ortega (Lenny to his friends) is a budding entrepreneur and one-fourth owner of the Cardboard Arcade, a store dedicated to gamers of all shapes and sizes who love table-top gaming–whether it be Warhammer, board games, or card games!

Leonardo Ortega

How I Know Lenny

Lenny and I met in our sophomore year of high school when I dropped my student ID card and he politely handed it back to me. He then asked my name and I made a smart-ass quip that he would never be Batman (the world’s greatest detective) if he still had to ask me my name after he just had my ID in his hand. Fortunately for me, Lenny is a big fan of Batman and all over things “nerdy” (as am I!) and we hit it right off.

Lenny became my “big brother” all through my teen years. He remains one of the only people I know who has put himself in actual physical endangerment on my behalf and is an all-around decent fellow.

It makes me smile that after years of working toward this goal and that he finally ended up doing exactly what he always did: Playing table-top games! And I’m so proud he found a way to do it for money. Great job, Bro!

Lenny and me at Junior Prom

My Interview with Leonardo Ortega

What do you do?

Cardboard Arcade is an LLC composed of myself, Stephen Johnstone, Leif Davidson, and Keala Asato. We each have our own responsibilities but we will pick up each others slack when needed.

My responsibility is getting the paperwork handled, filled, organized as well as doing our Tax papers.

How did you start?

We started last year, as gamers sitting around a table talking about how cool it would be to have our own store. It started out as a joke, though for me personally it has been [my] fantasy ever since I was in middle school. To have my own store, be my own boss, and have a great place where people could come in and have fun. As we started talking about how we would operate our store, and it seemed less as a fantasy and more as probability. We all had our own lives though, with jobs and bills, why start a risky venture?

In October a friend of mine passed away at a young age, it was devastating. During my grieving I decided life is too short, and called my friends back and talked heavily on making this store happen. After Months of planning we filled for our LLC and got the ball rolling from there.

What’s your favorite part of what you do?

Being a part owner of a game store has its perks. We get a heads up on upcoming games, play tons of games, and have fun with customers who come in the shop. Yes, there is a lot of work that goes into running the store, and my partners and I find ourselves working from home a lot.

Those few moments where we can sit down, pull out a game in our store and play with good friends really make it worth while.

That and introducing people into a new game and seeing how they love a new challenge or game mechanic is always a blast.

What advice do you have for someone looking to get into doing what you do?

Well, starting a business or pursuing any dream requires work, but what in life doesn’t? You can’t start off blind; you need to do research and build a knowledgeable foundation.

Then you need money.

I would recommend digging into your savings and finding partners. We decided to skip the bank loans so we wouldn’t have deal with interests and save us some money. But eventually we will need to borrow money so I would ask investors first after making a thorough business plan.

What’s next for you/your business?

Whats next for us is to move to a larger location in about a year to house more gaming tables and allow more people to come in and enjoy the store’s games.


Official Website

Cardboard Arcade Store

Like Cardboard Arcade on Facebook

IN THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AREA? VISIT THE CARDBOARD ARCADE AT 820 San Fernando Road, Ste. 208 San Fernando, CA 91340.  Their official Grand Opening is on July 28, 2012! Don’t miss out on the festivities!

And if you’re going to Comikaze this fall, be sure to sign up for the Warhammer 40k Tournament and pit your skills against Leonardo Ortega himself!

The Cardboard Arcade logo. (I like to think that’s Lenny in the box).

Photos provided by Leonardo A. Ortega.

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