Design Student Conference Track
20th Year as the Largest and Most Innovative in the World
Don't Miss Out - Only Happens Once a Year!
This is YOUR opportunity to pitch ideas directly to...
manufacturers, investors, retailers, and product acquisition executives.
November 17-19, 2022
This is your opportunity to show your portfolio, get internships and pitch ideas directly to manufacturers, investors, retailers, and product acquisition execs! Includes tickets to exclusive POP Roast and Networking Night at Radio Flyer and Toy & Game International Excellence Awards (TAGIEs). Space limited - reserve your place now!
Why You Need to Attend
"CHITAG/POP is “THE” event for the Toy Industry, it is a who’s who of Toy & Game Inventors, Innovators 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 events - they are timed perfectly for seeing the best of the best toys and games right in the heart of our biggest selling season!" - Gary Swisher, former EVP & SVP at Spin Master and Mattel
"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. Since first attending, I've licensed many toys and games, all to companies that I met at the conference (Spin Master, Marbles, Mindware & Fat Brain Toys). As a former 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, Professional Inventor
"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 – VP of Innovation, Spin Master
Conference Registration Includes
Our conference will be held in an all-suites hotel with a big open atrium, right in the heart of downtown Chicago. Wave to one another across the way, make friends as you pass each other, and get to meetings in a snap! We are offering a special hotel rate (which is fully refundable). We have guaranteed fewer rooms than usual, but our room rate stands no matter how many rooms are booked, so book through POP, and BOOK NOW. DO NOT DELAY: if the hotel fills up with non-POP people, you will not get a room in our hotel, you’ll pay a higher rate for participation, and you won’t enjoy the camaraderie of the breakfasts or evening receptions, and those chance encounters are the best! BOOK TODAY!
Information on Speakers on Conference Homepage
Thursday, November 17th - Keynotes, Speakers and Panels are held in hotel ballroom.
6:30pm - 9:00am – Breakfast in atrium - doesn't mean you need to be there at 6:30am. Arrive as you wish. (cooked to order)
9:00am Keynote - Ted Curtin, EVP & Chief Innovation Officer at ProdigyWorks on Breaking Through Innovation Barriers in Uncertain Times
9:30am Keynote - Peyton Gulley, Director, Content Partnerships and Development at Calm on Supporting the Mental Health of Kids – We all Have a Part to Play
11:00am - James Howard with a few stars from his episodic documentary series The GATHERING - A Black Inventors Got Game Episode 1
12:00pm - 2:00pm – Lunch and New Inventor and Design Student Exhibition during lunch. Included in your registration is an exhibit table with this "Speed Meeting/Pitch" opportunity to pitch your toy, game or app prototypes, products, and ideas to dozens of companies for licensing and feedback. If a Product Acquisition Exec is interested in you or your idea, they will set a meeting with you for sometime later in Conference.
2:00pm - Rachele Harmuth, Head of ThinkFun division of Ravensburger on We're in a Youth Mental Health Crisis. The Toy & Game Industry Needs to be Part of the Solution
2:30pm - Tanner Yarro, President at Yarro Studios on How is Crowdfunding and Social Media Evolving?
3:00pm - Legal IP Panel: Frank Sardone - Partner at Carter, DeLuca & Farrell,, Andrew Himebaugh - Associate Attorney at Irwin IP, Jason Keener - Senior Member of Irwin IP, on Intellectual Property - What is Protectable Now and in the Future... AI, NFTs and More
3:30pm - Julia Fitzgerald, CMO at American Lung Association and Author of Midsize - Marketing for Midsize Firms on Yes, Size Really Does Matter! Size or scale matters in a lot of situations. But does the size of a company really make a difference to your professional growth as a marketer?
4:00pm - 5pm - T.J. Simmons, Vice President of Sales: Specialty & Key Accounts at THiN AiR Brands and President of the ASTRA Board of Directors, with Tom Rushton, President, Revenew Sales and ASTRA Board of Directors on What is the Future of Retail? How to Partner with Retailers, Reps & Distributors? What do the Numbers and Acronyms mean? How are Retailers a Resource for Inventors and Self-manufacturing Start-ups?
5:00pm – TBA
5:30pm - 7:00pm – Evening Reception - two complimentary drinks - beers, wines, and premium spirits, appetizers (in hotel atrium)
6:30pm - Buses leave the hotel for Radio Flyer, if you miss the buses, the address for Radio Flyer is 6515 W Grand
7:00pm - 10pm – POP Pub Night featuring dinner, open bar and a savagely hilarious Roast of Matt Nuccio by a bevy of his peers – at Radio Flyer
One lucky attendee will win a Radio Flyer Electric Bike!
10:00pm - Buses leave Radio Flyer for Embassey Suites
Friday, November 18th
6:30am - 9:30am – Breakfast in atrium - arrive when you wish (cooked to order). Great opp to have a chat with someone from industry.
10:00am - 10:30am – Mentoring with a Product Acquisition Executive (we will give you info and suite number)
11:00am - 5:00pm – Advice from Experts! Book a meeting for advice from experts in manufacturing, legal, design, shipping, retail, other shows, exhibiting, social media, marketing/pr, pitching, financial and more!
5:30pm - 7:00pm – Evening Reception - two complimentary drinks - beers, wines, premium spirits, appetizers (in hotel atrium)
7:00pm – Open to book your own activity... great opp to have dinner with someone from Conference
Saturday, November 19th
7:30am - 10:30am – Breakfast in lobby - arrive when you wish (cooked to order). Great opp to have a chat with someone from industry.
11:00am - 5:00pm – Advice from Experts! Book a meeting for advice from experts in manufacturing, legal, design, shipping, retail, other shows, exhibiting, social media, placing ads, marketing/pr, pitching, financial and more!
5:30 - 7:00pm – Evening Reception - two complimentary drinks - a variety of beer, wine, and premium spirits (in hotel atrium)
6:00pm – TAGIE Awards at the Epiphany Center for the Arts, with cocktails/appetizers and afterparty in the catacombs under the Great Hall! (You'll need to order a taxi, uber or lyft to 201 S Ashland.) Lifetime Achievement Honorees: Alan Hassenfeld, Leslie Scott and Kantaro Tomiyama. Keynote by Ben Varadi and TAGIE Nominees! Seated dinner, open bar, celebratory, star-studded evening. Black-tie optional, but bring on the sparkles! Photos from last in-person
Two Recorded Panel Discussions for
Design Students Interested in Toy Design
Past Attendees Highly Recommend!
"The conferences were informative and motivating. It was wonderful listening to industry professionals speak to a variety of relevant topics. We attended as new inventors with a diverse portfolio of ten games to pitch. The connections we made at ChiTAG resulted in licensing six concepts and one brand. Pretty remarkable! We look forward to many more conferences in the future. Thank you!" - Brenda Ekstroem of Blue Ninja Studios & Erica Golub of DesignELF Studios.
“My game is being manufactured by PlayMonster for a 2020 launch, and I am already working on my next game. My goal is to be there every year from here on out to exhibit a new game.” Shawn Villela
“The Inventor Conferences are an incredible opportunity to network and pitch your ideas to industry professionals. I licensed my game, Stripes, to Breaking Games after pitching it at a speed dating event. The contacts I made remain invaluable years later. Thank you, Mary!” -Maxine Ekl, Clever Playing Cards, Protospiel-Chicago organizer
The Inventor Conferences and consumer Fair surpassed our wildest expectations. We have interest from retailers, licensees and met vendors with whom we have now contracted for manufacturing and fulfillment. The Conference panels were so rich with content and we are so grateful for this insider knowledge. Perhaps the most rewarding element, was the direct family and kid feedback we received at the Fair following the Conferences. The positive reception gave us the data we needed to accelerate getting our game into the market! - Stacy Katz and Maximina Revis, Co-Creators of Not Parent Approved
BrainSpin continues strong sales at Winning Moves USA, selling over 50,000 copies since its debut in 2016. 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. Super psyched to come back this year with a new idea!" - Frankie Abralind
"CHITAG is the best conference and networking experience I have ever had!" -Heidi Larson, Hb's Toys & Accessories
"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
“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 this event my game “Choice Words” was picked up by MindWare.” and I've since licensed more - Bob Kamp
“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
"This event makes me fall in love with the Toy & Game Industry each year!” - Megan Hinterman Kanous - Publisher Services, Inc.
The Innovation Conferences are aa valuable a networking event to me, as it is to the inventors attending! Mary and her team assemble some of the most talented people in the industry. It is like no other toy conference available. I am sure some the industry’s best, new ideas are being discussed and created throughout the conference events – we will just have to watch the toy shelves to see!" - Tracy Dudkiewicz, TAP Marketing
"In two days companies such as Hasbro and Barnes and Noble covered everything from what the major retail buyers were looking for, how and why decisions were made, to how to save on manufacturing. This was topped only by the opportunity to have a one-on-one with the same experts allowing them to comment on our product and answer our questions. They were all very generous with their time and suggestions. T&GCon is a must for anyone who wants to understand the toy and game industry or market their product. I came away from the event both professionally and personally enriched." - Gary Nolan, Inventarium