Feb 23, 2012

Moving Beyond Hand Buzzers

I read a great article in Fast Company's Co.Design by contributing author Hellen Walters, who writes about the "4 Elements That Make A Good User Experience Into Something Great".  As the title implies, product design is critical for not only function but also to set expectations for "what we expect (the product) to do, and then, ideally, get the hell out of our way until we need it again".  Apple products, such as the iPod, are great examples.  Apple was the first to introduce a music player that was intuitive, attractive (red anyone?), and didn't scare the Belarus out of you!  For us working in the toy industry (and especially for us integrating more technology into our designs), these concepts are as important as ever and should be a part of the design team's tattoo collection.

Feb 22, 2012

Lower Taxes - a Liberal Idea?

Today, Obama announced his plan to cut corporate tax rates to 28% from the existing 35%.  There is a lower effective tax rate proposed for US manufacturers, firms that return jobs to this country and to companies that relocate to some communities that have lost big employers.  The craziest part about this ... the other side is already baulking at the proposal.  Since when is lowering taxes something the Republicans don't like?

Feb 20, 2012

What Private Equity Can Teach Entrepreneurs

It is rare that private equity will offer an entrepreneur anything more than indemnification or a really rough and painful life lesson, which is why I found the article in Strategy and Business Finance that offered entrepreneurs the "Seven Value Creation Lessons from Private Equity" wonderfully refreshing.  The lessons are so simple, and yet I find many entrepreneurs, myself included, deviating from them everyday.  Personally, I think every business owner should have these seven lessons printed on a card, kept on their persons, and reviewed daily!  Seriously.

Feb 19, 2012

Toy Fair NY 2012

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) Toy Fair in NY concluded this past weekend, and after our fourth year attending, I can say it went by pretty much as planned.  Much of the product development and new partnerships we are working on will not be ready until the summer (most likely for A.S.T.R.A. in Baltimore, MD), so this trip for me was to showcase our partnership with the Flipoutz and SnapTagz brands as well as an expedition to see new products and meet industry friends and associates.  And, while I can't say too much about what I took away (I don't want to give away too much here), suffice it to say ... it was a great trip!

Feb 1, 2012

Millennials and Wharholism

Most entrepreneurs and business managers are aware of two important trends that affect business these days:
1. The Baby Boomer Generation is HUGE, reaching retirement, and possesses significant assets that they are predisposed of spending.  They are also easier to relate to for most business managers (i.e. - me).
2. The birth rate in the US has been in decline, meaning that the market for upcoming generations of consumers is shrinking.  As well, generations such as the Millennials are maturing faster and are more sophisticated then their predecessors, which means they are more difficult to reach (figuratively) and relate to.
It is easy, therefore, to tend toward a business strategy that focuses on older consumers (let's face it, it's smart move).  With that said, however, if companies are able to develop a strategy to tap into the potential of younger generations (an easy task if understood properly), they can develop an intense loyalty that will be easy to defend against larger, stodgier companies.