Truth Collective Gets Into the Puzzle Business and Adds a Punk Edge

By Kyle O'Brien 

The founder and CCO of Rochester agency Truth Collective is a fan of punk music and also puzzles, and he combined the two seemingly disparate loves with a new venture, Punkzles. The endeavor is dedicated to bringing consumers closer to the artists that sparked a musical and social movement and it kicked off with its first Kickstarter campaign, with the product expected to launch through direct-to-consumer channels in early 2022.

Punkzles’ CEO Jeremy Schwartz, along with his co-founders of Truth Collective, saw a whitespace in the puzzle industry, especially when puzzles rose to prominence during the lockdown of the pandemic. They saw that the selection of jigsaw puzzles was often sedate, and Schwartz realized that he could combine his passion of art direction, design and brand experiences with his love of punk rock to create a deeper connection with artists.

Schwartz told Adweek that Punkzles is its own entity, through it is associated with Truth Collective through its separate incubator company, Truth Ventures, which has dabbled in entertainment projects over the years, but only as minority equity partners.

“Punkzles as a brand and business was conceived in 2020 and today it’s the first independent startup company we’ve created born from our Truth Ventures business growth incubation process,” Schwartz said.

Family puzzle night goes punk

Punkzles rose from Schwartz’s own experience and love of punk and indie music he has had since his early teens. But it was also his interest in seeking analog experiences during the heart of the quarantine that identified the white space in the puzzle category.

“While I found puzzles to be an enjoyable way to pass time and engage with my family, I could not find puzzles with truly exciting imagery and design that suited our tastes,” he said. But when doing puzzles with his family while listening to music one night, the shuffled playlist served up classic punk from The Clash and The Ramones among a slew of other artists.

“That stimulated the simple question for me, ‘Could I blend punk with puzzles?’ Not only did that sticky conjoint name ‘Punkzles’ come to mind right then and there, but it drove me into image searches of the iconic artists that created the punk movement from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s,” Schwartz stated.

He wrote up the idea and brought it to the next partners meeting at Truth Collective, and they agreed it was an untapped market. John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, the frontman of punk pioneers The Sex Pistols (and later Public Image Limited), seemed the perfect first subject for the puzzle, and his face adorns the first puzzle.

Future puzzles look to feature more pioneers of punk, and the company has already secured its second feature, H.R. of Afro-punk band Bad Brains.

Each puzzle offers a puzzle, but also a deeper connection to the artist through a poster, liner notes, experience enhancers and curated streaming music playlists. The company is also committed to donating 3% of profits to MusiCares, the charitable partner of the Recording Academy.

Punkzles is trying to get off the ground with its Kickstarter campaign, which will run through the middle of December. Those interested can visit a dedicated website to learn more about the project.

“Our passion is to build the Punkzles brand to learn from the entrepreneur and marketer journey firsthand of building a consumer business from square one, gain new category knowledge, push our branding experience, craft and capabilities and follow our passion for the music that’s been important to so many peoples’ lives,” said Schwartz.

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