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

New Inventor & New Business Conference Track Agenda

In our 14th year, 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! 



Wednesday, November 20th Evening

Usual hangouts for speakers and attendees are:

Timothy O'Toole's , 622 N. Fairbanks Court, 2  blocks from The W

D4 Irish Pub, 2.5 blocks from The W, 345 E Ohio St

The lounge area in The W

New Event! Custom Color 3D Printing Open House. Come see what Custom Color 3D Printing can do for the toy industry, stay and enjoy food and beverage, leave with your own action figure! RSVP HERE From 5:30-8:00pm for complimentary Drinks and Appetizers at Duffy's Tavern & Grill. $10 off Uber Voucher available from 5-8pm for the first 50 people use CODE: exuvusw Learn more about Custom Color 3D printing and tour the facility located just around the corner.


Thursday, November 21st


8:00 Registration outside Room 326 (3rd floor) see map on website


8:00 Continental Breakfast in Rooms 325/326


9:00 Welcome

All Tracks meet in Room 325/326

Mary Couzin Introduces Conference Hosts Catherine McMillan Gill (McGill Associates) & Richard Gill (PlayMonster)


9:00 Opening Keynote Speakers 

Joanne Domeniconi, Co-founder & Chief Discovery Officer, The Grommet

Chris Denson, Innovation Expert, Author, Host of Innovation Crush


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

Dougal Grimes (Spin Master)


10:30 Licensing... there are two kinds! 

Karri Bean, (Disney)


11:00 Coffee Break


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

Presenting and Licensing Your Idea to Companies and Retailers

You’ve heard less is more, it is true! 

Tanya Thompson (Hasbro)


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


1:00 Package Design & Product Development

Matt Nuccio (Design Edge)


1:30 Protecting Your Ideas: Perspectives for Individuals and Companies

Mike Hirtle (Paladin)


2:00  Working with Retailers, Reps and Distributors

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

Moderator: Kimberly Mosley (ASTRA) 

Panelists: Katherine Nguyen (Building Blocks), Megan Hinterman (PSI), Nicole Bortnick (BGN Sales Group)


2:30 Marketing

Moderator: Tracy Dudkiewicz (TAP Marketing)

Panelists: Lisa  Wuennemann (PlayMonster), Jake Davis (The OP), Josh Weaver (Exploding Kittens)


3:00 Coffee Break


3:30 Industry Trends

Steve Starobinsky (Diverse Marketing)


4:00 Global Market Perspective, International Trade Shows

Worldwide experts address the challenges and opportunities of accessing international markets and international trade fairs.

Moderator: Roger Gehrke

Panelists: Jenni Jalava (Martinex), Richard Gill (PlayMonster), Catherine McMillan Gill (McGill Associates) and Walter Krinsky (Novelty)


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

Steven Schoenmaekers (Cartamundi)


5:00 Wrap-up and Questions

We know you've heard a lot at this point in the day. This is your chance to ask questions about content you heard and what is happening in the toy/game industry.

Gary Swisher (Spin Master)


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

Open bar and dinner at Dublin (D4) Irish Pub, 345 E Ohio St, 2.5 blocks from The W

 Sponsored by Longshore Limited




8:00  Continental Breakfast (Room 325/326)

Exhibit Table Set-up for Speed Pitch (Lakeview Terrace on 2nd floor)


9:00 Keynote Speakers (Room 325/326) 

Richard Dickson, President and COO, Mattel, Inc.

Robert Fuhrer, Owner at Nextoy LLC and KenKen Puzzle

David Fuhrer, Managing Director at BlueSquare Innovations


10:00 Professional Inventors stay and New Inventor/Business and Product Acquisition tracks leave for Lakeview Terrace


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).


12:30 Networking Lunch – Lakeview Terrace (all tracks)


2:00 – 3:00 Be Seen! Social Media Tips and Tricks for Brands and Inventors (Rooms 325/326)

Sheena Stephens (Sheena Stephens PR), Rachel Griffin (Jakks Pacific)

2:30 – 3:00 How to Protect Your Brand from MAP Violations, Counterfeits, Gray-Market Forces

Robert Cook (Verisk Financial G2)


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

Hannah Fernandez (SCORE Association) and Gene Murtha (SCORE Association) 

Seven Mentoring Stations for One-on-One Consulting:

  • Sales

  • Social Media

  • Marketing

  • Operations

  • Technology

  • Financial 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 23rd and Sunday 24th is the Chicago Toy & Game Fair and your badge gives you access! 

Saturday 7:30 is a Women in Toys panel (Rooms 325/326) - How Brands Use Experiential Marketing to Drive Sales
Join WIT for an engaging panel discussion about what it takes to build and grow brands by immersing consumers in amazing, interactive experiences. Hear from a panel of experts who will share their knowledge, insights and recommendations. From hands-on grassroots marketing to social and digital engagement, learn how our panelists applied successful brand engagement strategies… as well as what they’ve learned to avoid.

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. A retractable 3' x 8' banner is permitted behind your table. 

Register for the 2019 Conference!

Thursday, November 21, 8am - 10pm

(includes evening pub event)

Friday, November 22, 8am - 4pm, includes  TAGIEs 6pm to 11pm. 

Conference Hotel

We reserve a limited block of rooms at The W (easily walkable or a five-minute taxi ride to the Pier), 

644 N Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60611. 

If you make your reservations through Kate Hennessy, there is a discounted rate of $152/night plus tax.  Call Kate at: 1-802-857-8434 or email: 

Availability is limited! Book early - we sold out last year! 

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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