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New Inventor & New Business Conference Track

In our 13th year, formerly known as T&GCon, this is a forum for advocating, educating and bringing together the inventor community in the toy and game industry; with unrivaled opportunities for private/confidential meetings, knowledge sharing, discovering new trends, pooling resources and generating new business. Space is limited! Register to attend here! 

Learn, Network, Pitch Your Ideas to Executives at World's Largest Toy & Game Inventor Events 



Wednesday, November 14th

A common hangout is Timothy O'Toole's , 622 N. Fairbanks Court, a couple of blocks from The W, or check out the bar area in The W.  


Thursday, November 15th


8:00 Registration Near Room 326 (3rd floor)


8:00 Continental Breakfast in Rooms 325 and 326


9:00 Welcome

All Tracks meet in Room 325/326

Mary Couzin, Introduction to Catherine McMillan Gill and Richard Gill of McGill and Associates, Moderators of the Conference


9:00 Opening Keynote Speakers


Karri Bean, Senior Manager, LEGO at Disney Consumer Products


Tanya Thompson, Director Global Product Acquisition and Inventor Relations for Gaming, Hasbro

Kelly Page, Chief Innovation Officer, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy


10:00  Professional Inventors and Product Acquisition Executives leave for Room 324


10:00 Basics of the Industry – Who, What, Terms, Acronyms and more

Gary Swisher


10:30 Coffee Break


10:45 Protecting Your Ideas: Perspectives for Individuals and Companies

Mike Hirtle  (Paladin)


11:15 Pitch Perfect in One Minute – Getting Your Idea Across in 30 seconds

Presenting and Licensing Your Idea to Companies and Retailers

Advice on how to catch their interest in 30 seconds or less. You’ve heard less is more, it is true! 

Tanya Thompson (Hasbro)


11:45 Networking Chicago-Style Lunch (All Tracks) Rooms 325 and 326


1:00 Package Design & Product Development

Matt Nuccio (Design Edge)


1:30 Working with Retailers, Reps and Distributors

Best Way to Approach Retailers, Reps and Distributors; Be a Partner

Linda Schmidt (Cat and Mouse), Carle Wunderlich (WunderReps), Megan Hinterman (PSI), Ryan DeChance, the Grommet


2:00 Marketing

Sheila Judkins (Hasbro) 

2:30 Trends –Digital

Phil Sage (Hasbro), Krissa Watry (Dynepic)

As new emerging tech experiences evolve, experts Phil Sage (Hasbro), Krissa Watry (Dynepic) and Valerie Vacante (Collabsco) will discuss the latest digital trends in connected play; from voice, robotics, AR, IoT and more, this panel will share perspective on the connected play landscape, specific real world examples of developing connected play products and experiences, the importance of global collaboration and what’s ahead in the near future of toy and games.


3:15 Coffee Break


3:30 Toy Testing Internationally

Manish Kumar (Geo Chem)


4:00 Global Market Perspective, International Trade Shows

Worldwide experts address the challenges and opportunities of accessing international markets and international trade fairs in NYC, Hong Kong, London, Nuremberg, Essen, Shanghai, and Tokyo.

Moderator: Roger Gehrke

Panelists: Jenni Jalava (Martinex), Richard Gill (McGill), Catherine McMillan Gill (McGill), Stephan Van Hacht (Megableu)


4:30 Self-Producing Your Game Idea – Manufacturing, Testing

Bob Adams (Cartamundi)


5:00 Tips from the Toy Box

Tim Walsh, The Playmakers and Getta1Games

Expert Advice from these Uber Successful Industry Pros:

Gwen Austin

Brady Peterson

Peggy Brown

Gary Donner and Michael Steer

Dan Klitsner

Leslie Scott

Plus Many More


6:00 – 10:00 Inventor Night - Networking Dinner & Fun with the Experts/Speakers

Networking Dinner (open bar and dinner) at The W., a short walk from Navy Pier.





8:00 Continental Breakfast, Exhibit Table Set-up for Speed Pitch – Lakeview Terrace on 2nd floor


9:00 Keynote Speakers –Lakeview Terrace on 2nd Floor


Adi Golad, Founder and Chairman of Goliath (includes Pressman Toy, JAX, Tucker Toys and more!)


Gray Bright- CEO, Founder at Cloud


10:00 Professional Inventors leave for Room 324.


10:00 One Minute Speed Pitch –Lakeview Terrace

Companies will spend one minute at each new inventor table and will give you their information or take yours if they are interested. Prior to Conference, please put together your Product Overview Sheets and read the White Papers (link from website).


1:00 Networking Lunch – Rooms 325 and 326


2:00 – 3:00pm Be Seen! Social Media Tips and Tricks for Brands and Inventors

Kathleen Tomes and Alexa Vogue  (Brilliant PR and Marketing)


3:00 – 4:00pm Resources for Building Your Business

Gene Murtha (SCORE Association) moderator

Six Mentoring Stations for One-on-One Consulting

  • Sales

  • Social Media 

  • Marketing

  • Operations

  • Technology

  • Financial management

  • Management

  • Partnership development


4:00 Wrap-Up Conference - Speaking Portion Concludes, But Networking Picks up Again at Evening Events (included in your ticket)


If you have exhibit space at the weekend ChiTAG Fair, you have until 6pm to enter the Hall (Festival Hall A) in order to set up your booth or table. Once in the Hall, you may stay until approximately 9pm. See ChiTAG Exhibitor Manual for details.


6:00 to 10:00pm Toy and Game Innovation Awards (TAGIE) Awards – a playful, celebratory and elegant event! (Included in your ticket – do not miss!)

Saturday November 17th and Sunday 18th is the Chicago Toy & Game Fair and your badge gives you access! 

This is 'THE' Event to Attend!

"ChiTAG is “THE” event for the Toy Industry, it is a who’s who of Toy & Game Inventors and Toy & Game Companies. The Conferences, Gala and Fair are unmatched for Educating, Celebrating and Playing in our industry. I’m very excited for this year’s event - it is timed perfectly for seeing the best of the best toys and games right in the heart of our biggest selling season!" - Gary Swisher, SVP of Inventor Relations and Head of Gaming​, Mattel Inc.

"ChiTAG is a high point of the year. I am able to meet and speak with inventors from around the globe in an amazing, innovative and supportive environment.  It is the only toy and game fair that offers this combination of new and experienced inventors, learning and networking opportunities, and an event that is literally and figuratively built around an open-to-the-public Toy Fair set on Chicago’s historic Navy Pier.  It is a great place to experience every part of the toy industry, from the inventors, colleagues, and business partners, to watching the children’s reactions to the toys and games on the show floor to wrap up the week.”  - Rich Mazel – Head of Global Product Acquisitions, Hasbro, Inc.

"If you’re truly serious about getting into the toy & game industry, whether it be as a designer looking to license your ideas or start producing your own products, I can’t recommend enough attending this Conference.  I first attended T&GCon in 2014 and have since licensed several toys and games, all to companies that I met at the conference (Spin Master, Marbles, Mindware & Fat Brain Toys).  Although I’m a newbie to the industry I’m confident in saying that you would be very hard pressed to find any single event that new (and experienced) toy & game inventors can attend that will be as helpful to your aspirations. " -Brady Peterson

Conference Registration Includes...

  • Two days of customized conference sessions designed to give you a broad exposure to the toy & game industry, expand your business and save you from making costly mistakes. 

  • An exhibit table with a "Speed Meeting" opportunity to pitch your toy, game or app prototypes, products, and ideas to dozens of companies for licensing and feedback. 

  • Unparalleled opportunity to network with peers, speakers, toy and game product acquisition executives as well as consultants and others that can help you succeed. 

  • Opportunity to meet with toy an game companies 
  • One ticket to Pub Night - great food, great space, great networking! 
  • One ticket to the Toy & Game Innovation Awards (TAGIEs) on Friday night 
  • Two-day admission to the Fair on Saturday & Sunday

  • Discounts on exhibition space at the Chicago Toy & Game Fair - A $300 discount on a 6 feet inventor table space or a $500 discount on a 10 x 10 square feet or larger booth space. This is separate from the table you receive at this inventor conference. 

  • Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner for both days

  • Coffee, tea & networking breaks for both days


Exhibit Tables and "Speed Meeting"

Attendees with prototypes, inventions, products, and/or services receive a 6 foot exhibit table in our mini show room (near the conference rooms) which allows you to present product during the conference on Friday.

During the "Speed Meeting and Pitching" period on Friday morning, all conference speaker/experts have agreed to take time to walk through the Walkabout room to see product, and listen to the "elevator pitch" at each table. The schedule permits at least one minute with each company, and then take advantage of the networking opportunities to have deeper discussions with the people who are interested in your products.

There is no additional cost for reserving a table at the conference, Contact us to reserve your table.  All materials being displayed must fit on top of the 6 foot table. Table coverings are acceptable. No items may be placed adjacent to the table (i.e. banners or display racks).

Register for the 2017 Conference!

Thursday, November 15, 8am - 10pm

(includes evening pub event)

Friday, November 16, 8am - 4pm, includes  TAGIEs 6pm to 11pm. 

Conference Hotel

We reserve a block of rooms at the Doubletree Magnificent Mile (a five-minute taxi ride to the Pier) with a discounted room rate if you make your reservations through our travel agent - Kate Hennessy at Milne Travel American Express.

Call Kate at: +1 802 735 1316 (or +1 802 862 2200) or email: 

Availability is limited! Book early!

Past Attendees Recommend Attending! 

"What an excellent introduction to the toy and game profession! I met acquisition execs, license brokers, experienced game designers and  newbies like myself. And I learned a lot from each group!" -  Luke Fischer, Gamefish LLC

"The CHITAG Innovation Conference was a great opportunity for me. I walked away with a deeper understanding of the industry and met many inspiring people. Their passion was motivating and provided an excellent experience that I will hang onto as I follow my dream."  Steve Rolland, Game Creator of Yes, and…you are the Comic! 

"CHITAG is the best conference and networking experience I have ever had!" -Heidi Larson, Hb's Toys & Accessories

"The Chicago Toy and Game conference was a great opportunity for me. I walked away with a deeper understanding of the industry and met many inspiring people. Their passion was motivating and provided an excellent experience that I will hang onto as I follow my dream."  -Steve Rolland, Game Creator of Yes, and…you are the Comic!

"Thank you for all you do, one word describes my experience "Phenomenal". -Susan Polodna

 "I had been trying over the last 6 months to figure out how and who to license my toy idea to (Evolvems reversible dino plush if you had a chance to see it on the table).  I got not only a ton of great info... but I think I made a deal yesterday with a great company, all through the network of folks who were generous enough to share their insight and make connections.  know there is some saying about chickens and hatching but regardless I think this is the best money I ever spent." - Avram Kaufman, Evolvems

"T&GCon was amazing and I highly recommend that any and all budding toy and game inventors invest in this opportunity to learn every aspect of the toy and game industry!  Not only do you get to network with the top experts in the industry, but you can get a one-on-one meeting to discuss "your" toy or game with them!  It's a rare and golden opportunity for toy and game inventors!" - Barbara Jenkins, J Links Enterprise

"Thank you for putting on such a wonderful conference. It definitely exceeded my expectations! As someone who is interested in getting started in the toy and game industry, I found this conference invaluable. The great variety of session topics and quality of presenters helped me gain a better understanding of the industry as a whole. I would recommend it to anyone who thinks toy or game design is something they want to do." - John Berube

“I just licensed BrainSpin to Winning Moves! I learned so much at the Conferences and Fair and could not have gotten this deal without the work you do supporting newbies like me. I came to understand the value of licensing versus self-publishing; learned the important terms, conditions and gray areas of legal deals; met a Hasbro executive and played my game with him (he later connected me with Winning Moves); and a colleague of his, who kindly offered his advice on who to work with and what I could expect in a deal; and I boosted my credibility by selling more than a hundred copies of BrainSpin at the Fair. Thank you so much!” - Frankie Abralind

"You can spend years trying to figure out the ropes of a new industry, or you can spend two days at T&GCon and meet those that know, listen to those that know, and then you can move forward with your idea. We listened. When we left we had orders and we had a vision. We went from being a nobody to a somebody. Thank you so much!" - Bill Witt, Founder, Pajaggle, Inc

"I attended T&GCon and ChiTAG for the first time in 2012 as a newbie inventor looking to gain feedback on our party game, Schmovie. I received invaluable insights from seasoned industry folks and consumers alike, and we ended up making key changes to both our game play and box design as a result. I’m excited to return this year as we celebrate Schmovie’s official launch!"  -BryanWilson, Partner/Creative Director, Galactic Sneeze 

“T&GCon was first class - ample venue, fine food/beverage, well-credentialed speakers, awards dinner, impressive and well-connected industry execs attending. Your event far exceeded my expectations! A great experience! The face-to-face contact with industry folks is invaluable. I heartily recommend this for anyone hoping to break into the business. Even if a person does not find the news to be good about their proposed toy or game, then they at least know that they gave themselves the very best chance for success. Thanks to T&GCon 2013, my game “Choice Words” was picked up by MindWare.” - Bob Kamp

“We launched in 2012... We went to a Toy Show, and it happened to be the Chicago Toy Fair, and within the first hour we got offered a license agreement.” —  Dustin "Red Dragon" Berk, Ninja Cards on Shark Tank

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