Seriel entrepreneur and owner of toy and gift company Wow! Stuff, Richard North, has teamed up with the creators of the Next Hot Toy production company and the Toy & Game Inventors Workshop, in order to find the next Furby or Monopoly.
Not only will North be speaking at the event and taking part in the Inventors Panel Session, but he will also be talking to delegates about the chance to become involved with the search for Britain's Next Hot Toy.
North explained: "A single toy if it becomes the next big thing can make the inventor millions. Take the Rainbow Loom bands for example. The founder has allegedly made over £60m. The find of a single, albeit unusual product, was the catalyst to launch my Wow! Stuff company. It was in 1999 at the annual Harrogate Toy and Gift fair that I happened across two university scientists in their early 30s. They had the worst exhibition stand I had ever seen; a decorators pasting table piled high with bathroom towels. And they were no plain coloured bath towels but a novelty product they called the Arse/Face towel. It was quite bizarre seeing this at such an upmarket event. Half the towel was white with large brown letters spelling FACE while the other half brown written in white with the word ARSE.
"Several companies and a few years later Lord Digby Jones, now a good friend, asked how I got started in the toy and gift business. When I told him how I had backed these budding entrepreneurs and their towel he scoffed and asked me how much money I had lost. When I said we had sold over 2 million units making Graeme and Kenny, the inventors, a tidy sum of money he was very gracious with his praise and not a little humbled.
Graeme Taylor and Kenny McAndrew went on to become North’s business partners and Wow! Stuff later moved into the toy industry. North continued: “We had a hit with a robot monkey called Dave followed with a radio controlled giant flying fish called AirSwimmers which sold in the millions of units.
"It never ceases to amaze me how so many people I meet have great toy ideas. The problem is they are not in the industry or business is often not their vocation.
"Dragons' Den is a fabulous platform for business entrepreneurs with ambitions to build a company from a great concept or product. But that misses the majority of people who just have a brilliant product idea and no desire to be a manager, business builder or salesman. These people come under the grouping of inventors and for me that means enabling their idea, if it passes mustard of course, to be fast tracked into a sales company directly. The Dragon wants a sizeable cut and usually wants the inventor to build a scalable company. That's not the ambition of the majority of inventors I meet."
North has now partnered with Dr Jim Wyatt and Dr. Mark Gasson co-creators of Next Hot Toy and themselves accomplished inventors.
Wyatt takes up the story: "Next Hot Toy will connect anyone with a great idea, concept or prototype directly to the biggest toy companies in Europe and the USA. It’s a kind of Britain's Got Talent audition where you are the artist creating the records but in this case the artist is the inventor, the record is the toy and the toy company is the label it will go out under. The mantra is to let the experts build your idea and sell it, while the inventor gets recognition and monetary rewards through royalties.
"We want the young and old, male or female, rich or poor to come along armed with a carrier bag or case containing their ideas and prototypes.”
As well as Wow! Stuff the inventors will have the chance to show their product idea under confidential agreements to the world's biggest toy companies including global toy giant Hasbro and one of Europe's largest toy companies The Vivid Toy Group. On hand will be patent and IP organisations to help inform the inventors of the various ways they can protect their invention from copycats and counterfeiters. A particularly pertinent point for Wow! Stuff who recently sued and won a significant lawsuit against Gift House International Limited for infringement of its best selling AirSwimmers product.
Wyatt summarised: “Dragons' Den is a wonderful platform for PR of any product or service and leads to some great items coming to market across many different industries. Next Hot Toy wants to be specific in a category and find the next multi-million selling toy and the inventor behind it."
The Toy & Game Inventors Workshop takes place on Monday, September 22nd at Rich Mix, Bethnal Green, London. It is sponsored by Asobi, Cartamundi, Hasbro, Flair, John Adams, Sambro, Vivid, Casdon, Guandong Alpha Animation, HTI and Wow! Stuff. Associate sponsors are Fundamentally Children, Be Inspired and Big on Toy Innovation (BOTI).
Only tickets for the morning conference sessions remain. Click here to visit the official website for full booking details.