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2023 Inventor Pitch & Innovation Conference

Global Toy & Game Industry's Premier Pitch & Education Event
Connect, Pitch, Learn at Largest and Longest Running Innovation Event

November 2 - 5 and just 15 mins from O'Hare via Complimentary Shuttle!

Last November's POP Pitch set a record for licensing products for fun-damental . We licensed concepts in a variety of categories with existing clients as well as some new ones. I'll be back! 

- Gary Pyper, Fun-damental invention UK

Announcing Awesome Keynotes!

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Dr. Michelle Thaller

NASA Astrophysicist,  Assistant Director for Science Communication at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

If Dr. Thaller looks familiar, it means you probably enjoyed Michelle's introduction of the James Webb Telescope last year on one of your screens or one of the countless media appearances she has made over the years. She is extraordinary.. We had the good fortune to have her speak about ten years ago and Conference attendees still talk about it, so we had to ask her back!  More details about Dr. Thaller can be found on her Wikipedia page.

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Andrew Perlmutter

President, Funko

Andrew Perlmutter has served as Funko, Inc.'s President since December 2022, prior to which, he served as Chief Executive Officer from January 2022 through December 2022 and as a member of the Funko, Inc. board of directors since January, 2022. Previously, Mr. Perlmutter served as President of Funko, Inc. and FAH, LLC since October 2017 and as the Senior Vice President of Sales of FAH, LLC from June 2013 until October 2017. Prior to joining Funko, Mr. Perlmutter was a co-founder of Bottle Rocket Collective, a board and travel games company, where he oversaw product manufacturing and sales from December 2012 until December 2013. Mr. Perlmutter received a B.A. in Interpersonal Communications from Southern Illinois University.

Conference Panels! We'll be Sharing More Soon! 

Toys of the World: Japanese and American Business Partnerships in the Toy Industry
Cultural Differences and Historical Successes

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Robert Fuhrer

Owner of Nextoy LLC

Robert Fuhrer is the Founder and Owner of Nextoy LLC. His company connects great, original ideas with toy/game companies, such as Hasbro, Mattel, Spin Master, Goliath, The New York Times, PlayMonster, AndrewsMcMeel, Gakken, Kawada and many others, that turn the idea into product. Classic Nextoy products include Crocodile Dentist, Gator Golf, KenKen, Spirograph Animator, Will Shortz Games and iTop. On a business trip to Japan to 2007, Robert became fascinated with an unknown math-and-logic puzzle. So he set up KenKen Puzzles LLC and markets the popular KenKen puzzle worldwide with a popular website, mobile apps, books, and syndicated publications. AWARDS - Recipient of the I.D.I.O.T. (International Designer & Inventor of Toys) award. - TIME Magazine’s “Most Amazing Inventions” selection. - TOTY (Toy of the Year) 3x nominee for Most Innovative Toy of the Year. - Toy Industry of America, Caring For Children Award - Mojo Nation “Top 100 most Influential Figures Working In Toy and Game Design” BOARD MEMBER: - Chitag -Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Hudson Valley -Evan's Team -Ping Pong Parkinson

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Daizo Uehara

Global Award Winning Product Design and Development Leader

Read our interview with Daizo HERE!

Daizo is a creative and collaborative product developer who applies business and leadership skills to multi-disciplined consumer product development teams. He's experienced in multi tasked creative leadership roles at major toy companies for multi decades, holds Industry’s best in class skills and knowledge in product design, development and engineering applied to hundreds of toys and consumer goods for both hard and soft lines. He is a broadly known toy expert recognized as an influential business liaison by various major entertainment companies in Japan through numerous successes in IP acquisitions. His proven problem solving and analytical skills utilized in people, product, and process solutions.

Emergent Stories and Avatars: Ancient, Present, and Beyond


Nicholas Tragnark

Creative Director - Toy & Entertainment - Brand Innovation Lab at AMAZON

  • Nicholas Tragnark connects the dots of creative development, science & engineering, and business through play and storytelling innovation.  He is creatively spearheading partnerships with Toy and Family Entertainment Brands (Hasbro, Mattel, LEGO, SpinMaster, Pokemon, Disney, etc) at Amazon Brand Innovation Lab.  

  • Years of professional curiosity have lead him through 4 startup ventures, 10 industries, and 100+ studios and clients, ranging from designing Transformer robots and customer engagement for Barbie The Movie, to software inspired by neural connectomes and lunch chats about lasers and painting with Astronauts.

How AI Is Making Toy Innovation and Pitching Easier than EVER Before

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Azhelle Wade

The Toy Coach

In today's dynamic and ever-evolving world, the toy industry is experiencing a remarkable transformation thanks to Artificial Intelligence (AI). Join The Toy Coach for an engaging and insightful talk, "Unlocking Creativity: How AI Is Revolutionizing Toy Ideation and Pitching," where we'll delve into the fascinating realm of AI-driven innovation in the world of toys and games.

Imagine a world where the process of dreaming up new toys, refining their designs, and presenting them to the world has become faster, more efficient, and brimming with creative possibilities. During this enlightening session, we will demystify AI, explore tailored AI tools you can start using today, and experience a live AI demo.

Whether you're a toy designer, inventor, entrepreneur, or simply a curious individual interested in the intersection of technology and creativity, this talk promises to open your eyes to the exciting world of AI-driven toy innovation. 

Prepare to be inspired, informed, and equipped with the knowledge to harness AI's potential in your own toy journey. The future of toy ideation and pitching promises to be easier and more exciting than ever before.

Fourth Quarter PR Advice: Holiday Guides, Influencers, Lead Times, QVC & More

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Rachel Griffin

Co-Founder at PlayWise Partners, QVC Host

​An Advisory Board member for POP, two-time Women In Toys: Wonder Woman of the Year Finalist, and PRSA member, Rachel is a dynamic and best practice driven public relations leader with over 19 years of award-winning excellence.  She has successfully launched numerous toy brands and franchises for top ten toy companies, including multiple Toy of the Year nominees and winners.  She excels at implementing and negotiating strategic marketing & promotions, while deepening brand awareness year over year through comprehensive media coverage, events, digital and social media. And, she's a good poker player if you are looking for a game!

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Amy Friedland

Executive Vice President at Freeman Public Relations

Working with Media & Influencers: A Blueprint for New Product Launches

Amy knows the toy and game PR business.  She’s worked with the industry’s biggest names and the smallest startups, helping them with brand awareness, new product launches, influencer campaigns and more.  In a nutshell, she helps her clients successfully move the needle at retail.  Amy has spearheaded numerous award-winning campaigns that have driven explosive consumer awareness. Influencer campaigns that she manages generate important “eyeballs” that help translate into sales. She loves brainstorming with her clients and has been known to color outside the lines of traditional PR with some off the wall ideas! Plus, she’s helped nominate and win more than a few TOTY and TAGIE’s for her clients over the years. 

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Christopher Byrne

The Toy Guy

Chris is a 35-year-plus veteran of the toy industry. He has held major marketing and creative positions for toy companies. Since 1988, he has run Byrne Communications, Inc., a consultancy for product development, strategic planning, licensing, and marketing. He has written seven books on the industry and speaks extensively on the role of child development in play and toy design and consults to the investment community in the U.S. and internationally about the business of toys. He appears regularly on Live with Kelly and Ryan and is the creator and co-host of The Playground Podcast, now in its fifth season.

Who's Getting POP Roasted This Year???  Rich Mazel, VP Of Innovation & Inventor Relations at Spin Master - That's Who! 

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Are You Ready for the Toy Takedown?
Details & Contestant Applications TBA!

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Four Conference Tracks Tailored to Your Needs

2023 Agenda

Wednesday Evening, November 1st, Warm-Up! 

  • The POP Roast of Rich Mazel, VP of Innovation & Inventor Relations at Spin Master

  • The Toy Industry Takedown - a Family Feud Style Game organized by the 3 Super Heroes pictured above... we can't wait to see what happens! Applications for contestants opening soon!


Thursday, November 2nd

  • 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 - Tim Kilpin, President, Toys, Licensing & Entertainment at Hasbro is now the keynote at our TAGIE Awards and we welcome Andrew Perlmutter, President of Funko

  • 9:30am Keynote - Michelle Thaller, NASA Astrophysicist,  Assistant Director for Science Communication at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

  • 10:00am - 12:00pm Robert Fuhrer and Daizo Uehara: Toys of the World:Japanese and American Business Partnerships in the Toy Industry

  • 10:00am - 12:00pm Panel Discussion TBA

  • 10:00am Speakers from curated panel videos answer questions from new inventors

  • 12:00pm - 2:00pm – 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 - 5:30pm – Panel Discussions

  • 5:30pm - 7:00pm – Evening Reception - two complimentary drinks - beers, wines, and premium spirits, appetizers (in hotel atrium)

Friday, November 3rd

  • 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 - 6:00pm – Evening Reception - two complimentary drinks - beers, wines, premium spirits, appetizers  (in hotel atrium)

  • 6:00pm - The Toy & Game Int'l Innovation Excellence Awards - the TAGIEs! This year the celebration is at Joe's Live Concert Venue - hot hot hot! Included in your conference registration! 

Saturday and Sunday November 4th and 5th

Chicago Toy & Game Fair - discount on table or booth if you attend Conference

  • 7:30am - 10:30am – Breakfast in lobby - arrive when you wish  (cooked to order). Great opp to have a chat with someone from industry.

  • 9:00 - 6pm Walk or exhibit at the Chicago Toy & Game Fair right across the street in the convention center! Information here.

  • 5:30 - 7:00pm – Evening Reception - two complimentary drinks - a variety of beer, wine, and premium spirits  (in hotel atrium)

Professional Inventor Track by Invite
Product Acquisition Exec Track by Invite

Conference Hotel - Embassy Suites

2 Rm Suite-1 King Bed - $169.00 or 2 Rm Suite-2 Queen Beds - $199.00 with
Made-to-Order Breakfast, Evening Cocktails and  Complimentary Shuttles to/from Airport and Around Rosemont. TAGIEs, POP Roast, Fair and more just 1-3 blocks away!

No other event offers you so many fun and unique networking opportunities and is so easy for you to get to meetings! Rooms are arranged around a light and plant-filled atrium. All suites have separate living rooms with a four-person dining table for meetings, mini-kitchens and more.  Your meetings will be in these suites or in the meeting spaces. Sounds great, right? Well, it gets even better....


Gift bag when you check-in, 24-hour business center, complimentary made-to-order breakfast each morning and cocktails and snacks each evening - with your colleagues in the atrium. The closeness to all transportation and free shuttles to/from O'Hare aiport and around Rosemont - no need to spend money on taxis, Lyfts or Ubers!  Indoor pool and fitness center are added perks, and fabulous restaurants all within walking distance - or take the free shuttle! 

Book Hotel Now! 

We Expect These Companies and More This Year! 
(These are the companies that participated in 2022)

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Execs from these companies - 75 companies! - are attending, ready for pitches & networking... and even more are registering! Don't be left out! Register today!  Deals are being made!

Industry Experts for One-on-One Mentoring on Friday and Saturday

In-person or via Zoom for 15 Minutes, More Experts TBA

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Rob Yusim

Founder & President, Product Counsel - Consumer Product Marketing - Direct To Consumer (Online/Social & TV), Strategy & Licensing.

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Gene Murtha

ASTRA Board Member, POP Executive Committee Member, SCORE District Director and as a Regional VP for the Mid-Atlantic States, Inventor, former President GUND and SVP Mattel.

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Jerry Cleary

President, In-Sync Consulting LLC, President, fromerly President of Tonka Toys, EVP Mattel 

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Amy Friedland

Executive Vice President

Freeman Public Relations

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Christopher Byrne

The Toy Guy

The Toy & Game Innovation Awards - The TAGIEs 
Joe's Live - Super Hot Venue!

This is a celebratory event you do not want to miss! Mark November 3rd for the TAGIEs - it is part of your ticket for the Conference and Pitch event!  To reserve separately, click here

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Mentor/Judge at the Young Inventor Challenge November 4th at the Chicago Toy & Game Fair (just across the street)

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One of our most passionate and fun events! Make a difference in a child's life and encourage the next generation in our industry.

More information about mentoring, judging and sponsoring on this page!

What Past Attendees Say...

"CHITAG/POP's Inventor Conferences are timed optimally.

There is no better time of year for inventors to pitch ideas to us!"

Ben Dermer​, SVP Creative Development and Innovation. 

Deputy Creative Officer, Spin Master Ltd. 

“One of the first purchases we made as a new design studio was to sign up for a full POP Pro membership. The relationships we have made, the lessons learned and ultimately the deals we have signed as a result of our involvement with POP has paid for itself many many times over. It could cost 10x as much a nd still be a deal!” -Jordan Goddard, Co-Founder, Indy Toy Lab

"I love the CHITAG/POP events!

They're extremely well run with a great amount of thought put into them."

Carly McGinnis, Chief Operating Officer at Exploding Kittens

I highly recommend attending POP's Inventor Conferences. The knowledge, networking and access to decision makers is unmatched worldwide. I got my start the industry at these Conferences a few years ago and am now on track to hitting over a million games sold this summer of 2023! -Bob Kamp


It’s an annual rite of passage for our industry. Keep doing a great job bringing the community together and promoting the spirit of play.” –John Bell, Director, Product Design & Development, Buffalo Games

I attended CHITAG for the first time, and thought it was a fantastic event. It was great to connect with peers and learn from the quality talks. Look forward to attending next time! Gabby Toniolo, Bella Products, Australia


“This event makes me fall in love with the Toy & Game Industry each year!” - Megan Hinterman Kanous, PSI, Inc.

"Thank you for putting on such an informative and comprehensive conference and show.  ChiTAG is an excellent way to meet fellow inventors.  Our company, 1015 Creative, grew out of it.  Michael Adams and I met each other three years ago and within a year we were working together.  In October of last year we formed 1015 Creative, LLC with Damon Brown, bringing together a combined history of over 25 licensed games and 80 years of experience in game design, illustration and product development.  Our new company of successful inventors collaborating together debuted at the 2016 ChiTAG show.  We owe our success to the event and environment you have created." -Eric Foster, Principal at 1015 Creative, LLC.

"The Innovation Conferences are a must for anyone - inventors or company people - in the toy and game industry.  The information you'll learn, the pitching and the networking is incredible. Mary and her team are to be congratulated; there is nothing else like it in the world!" - Tanya Thompson, Hasbro   

"I don't think I have learned more about the Toy Biz since?... ever. I didn't want it to end." - Carle Wunderlich, Best of Best Toys, Inc. 

"Mary, you and your team throw one heck of an innovation conference!  It was a fantastic experience with a great group of people in the inventor community worldwide who are so clearly passionate about what they do and collaborative in spirit. Great keynotes/speakers, too!"  -Patty Sullivan, Highlights

"Chicago Toy & Game Week’s Professional Inventors Track is not just fertile ground for making the connections necessary to do business, it’s the annual gathering of the inventor tribe. In the whole wide world, there’s not a better place for independent toy and game inventors to go to catch up with each other, build friendships and strategic alliances, and spend quality time engaged with others who truly understand the nuances of the toy and game invention industry and share the common goal of expanding and improving our business opportunities. No other convention compares in personal warmth, richness of content, generosity of information sharing, and glorious un-rushed bubbles of quiet time to meet in depth and set a well-considered course right before the show season swings into hyper-warp mode and calm clarity morphs into frazzle." - Peggy Brown of Peggy Brown Creative

"Thank you for putting on such an informative and comprehensive conference and show.  ChiTAG is an excellent way to meet fellow inventors.  Our company, 1015 Creative, grew out of it.  Michael Adams and I met each other three years ago and within a year we were working together.  In October of last year we formed 1015 Creative, LLC with Damon Brown, bringing together a combined history of over 25 licensed games and 80 years of experience in game design, illustration and product development.  Our new company of successful inventors collaborating together debuted at the 2016 ChiTAG show.  We owe our success to the event and environment you have created." -Eric Foster, Principal at 1015 Creative, LLC.

“We are not mere creators of trinkets and insignificant baubles and playthings. we are the toymakers, the shamans, the wizards, the blacksmiths, the court jesters and sometimes even the town fool, and what we do – the toys that we create, contribute to the ever-evolving ever-advancing forward motion of the civilized world.” –Bruce Lund

Thank You to our 2022 Conference Sponsors!
Be a 2023 Innovation Conference Supporter - Contact Us! 

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