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2024 Global Toy & Game Industry's Premier PRO Inventor Event
Inventor Pitch, Innovation Conference, TAGIEs & Fair all for $550/person
November 7-10th

Register HERE for PRO TRACK
Reserve Your Hotel Suite HERE

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It doesn't get any better, easier, more cost effective or more fun to get your business done!

All pitch meetings will take place in hotel suites - yours or the person you are meeting.

Breakfast every day in the atrium with your colleagues

Drinks and snacks at the end of each day with your colleagues

Outstanding keynotes & speakers

Lunch on Thursday

All events are in close proximity to the hotel and walkable

Free shuttle to and from O'Hare Airport about 15 mins away

The hotel atrium is the hangout between meetings and nightly for everyone

Past Attendees Say...

“I look forward to the People of Play Inventor Conference and the TAGIEs every year, but I have to say that this year was the best one yet! The toy and game community is an amazing group of people and Mary and this event have a way of amplifying all that is great about it. Where else can creators, inventors, manufacturers, retailers, and toy & game companies all come together for a few days in November to learn, share cool ideas and, if lucky, make that connection that leads to the next big thing? The energy is just so positive, and it reminds us of how lucky we are to do what we do. The POP inventor conference is not just about feeling good and celebrating our great industry though. It’s an essential component of Hasbro’s external innovation strategy.” - Angus Walker, Hasbro 

"The Mattel Games team is always excited to attend POP each year and look for new games to bring to market.  Our focus is primarily on fostering new relationships by meeting with inventors we have not worked with before, but of course we love to see our existing inventor partners as well.  Game pitches, great conversations, meeting new people – we look forward to it every year and it always delivers."  -Dave Harris, Mattel

POP Week - It’s truly the most wonderful time of the year! - Shannon Swindle, Moose Games

Amazing show! The caliber of people and inventions were simply outstanding. The location is perfect! So convenient and affordable! Well done! -Erik Quam, Smart Toys

POP Inventor Pitch/Conference is unique as the only industry show dedicated and specifically catering to game and toy inventors and the executives that influence the path of innovation for their respective companies. It’s also a terrific venue for networking as each year we emerge with new customers and stronger relationships. If you choose this vocation, it’s absolutely essential to attend.  –Robert Fuhrer, NEXTOY

We met with 20 companies from a list over 4x the size. I carefully culled the list down to who fits the concepts I am showing.  I pitched 4 of our new games and now have contracts for two of them. It is cool and convenient to meet in individual suites as it is casual and fun, but the best part is the networking.   Meeting the IR execs face to face as well as getting tips from other inventors throughout the event is key.  The events are fantastically fun and over the top including the TAGIE Awards night where you feel like you are at the Grammys." -Kenn Morton,  KidKenn

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

Register HERE for PRO TRACK
Reserve Your Hotel Suite HERE

Do not share this invitation! It is only for Pros, we have a separate track for new inventors.

Thank You!

Mary Couzin, POP Advisory Board and the POP Team

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Awesome Keynotes!

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Dr. Michelle Thaller

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

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Andrew Perlmutter

President, Funko

Conference Speakers & Mentors!

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Robert Fuhrer

Owner of Nextoy LLC

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Azhelle Wade

The Toy Coach

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Daizo Uehara

CEO, BUCO Entertainment 

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Rachel Griffin

Co-Founder at PlayWise Partners, QVC Host


Nicholas Tragnark

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

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Amy Friedland

Executive Vice President

 Freeman Public Relations

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Christopher Byrne

The Toy Guy

Tami Murphy

President & Chief Consultant

Tamic Strategies

Rob Yusim

President, Product Counsel - Consumer Product Marketing, DTC, 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 

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

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Toy Takedown! Are You Ready?
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 - Update - 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 - 10:30pm Robert Fuhrer and Daizo Uehara: Toys of the World: Japanese and American Business Partnerships in the Toy Industry

  • 10:30am - 11:00am Nicholas Tragnark

  • 11:00am TBA

  • 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 - 5:00pm – Panel Discussions

  • 3:00pm - 4:00pm - TBA

  • 4:00pm - 5:00pm - Crazy Toy Industry Stories

  • 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.

  • 8:00am - 5:00pm - Pro Track Pitches all day

  • 10:00am - 10:30am – Product Acquisition Executives - New Inventor Mentoring

  • 11:00am - 5:00pm – Optional - 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 across the street

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

  • 9:00am - 12:00pm - Be a Judge at the Young Inventor Challenge in the Fair

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

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

Conference Hotel - Embassy Suites

Special Rate Ends October 7th! 

2 Rm Suite-1 King Bed $169.00 or

2 Rm Suite-2 Queen Beds $199.00

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.


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. Close to all transportation. Free shuttles to/from O'Hare airport and around Rosemont. No taxis, Lyft or Uber needed!  Indoor pool and fitness center are added perks. Fabulous restaurants within walking distance or take the free shuttle! 

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

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The Toy and Game Innovation Awards - The TAGIEs 
Joe's Live Concert Venue!  Celebrating Excellence in Innovation Worldwide!  Move over Oscars, Emmys, CMA, the 16th Annual TAGIE Awards are taking center stage!

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~ Welcome & Keynote ~

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JoAnn McLaughlin

EVP Merchandising - Hard lines at Marvel Entertainment

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Tim Kilpin

President, Toys, Licensing & Entertainment at Hasbro

~ Host ~

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Karri Bean

Senior Licensing Manager, Disney Parks Experiences & Products

~ Lifetime Achievement ~

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Jill Barad

Consultant, Prior: CEO & Chairman of Mattel

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Rouben Terzian

Founder at Terzian Enterprises: Prior: Co-Founder of BMT - Big Monster Toy

~ Game Changers - Unsung Heroes ~

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Tara McGrath

Creative Director, Inventor Relations and Innovations, Mattel

Michael Gramelspacher, Jon Harter, & SG Labs  Club Organizers for St Clare School Innovator Club

~ Entertainment ~

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Mark Setteducati

Magician, Author, Inventor, Celebrity

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Barry & Jason Games and Entertainment 

Official scriptwriter and stunt provider of the 2023 TAGIEs. 

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Music provided by Skip Towne and the Greyhounds

Chicago's #1 Blues Band & TAGIEs Band for over 10 years! 

~ Efficient, Economical & EXTRAORDINARY Events! ~
Just $500/Person

Here's What Happened at the...
2022 Inventor & Innovation Conferences

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

Connect and Pitch at Largest and Longest Running Toy & Game Inventor/Innovation Event Worldwide
Four Conference Tracks Tailored to Your Needs

"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

The Great Re-Connect!
Conference Hotel - Embassy Suites in the Heartbeat of Chicago

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 an 11-story, light and plant-filled atrium with bubbling fountains. 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. Chocolate truffles 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 (train to airport is just one block away), indoor pool and fitness center are added perks, as is the renowned on-site restaurant, Osteria Via Stato, and the multitude of restaurants and shopping just outside the entrance. Book Hotel Now! 


Versatile Gift Bag from Moose Games with POP'in Yummy Snacks! 

Such as PopTarts, Tootsie Pops, POP Rocks, Popcorn.... you get the idea! Fun! And, you'll use the bag for years to come!

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Toy and Game Int'l Excellence Awards - The TAGIEs! 

This is a celebratory event you do not want to miss! The venue is the 1885 historic and newly readapted award winning Epiphany Center for the Arts. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it embraces whimsical elements in its interior design while preserving the historic qualities such as Queen Anne detailing, arched ceilings and Tiffany stained glass windows, a nod to the fact that the building was previously a church. Mark November 19th for the TAGIEs - it is part of your ticket for the Conference and Pitch event!

To reserve separately, click here

The TAGIEs After Party in the Catacombs! 

After the celebrating the nominees, winners and honorees at the TAGIEs, join us in the Catacombs, just beneath the  Epiphany Center for the Arts.  This is part of your TAGIE Awards ticket! 

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Mentor/Judge at the Young Inventor Challenge at Radio Flyer!

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!

2022 Awesome Conference Keynotes and Speakers

New POP Duo!
Robert Fuhrer Debuts the Will Shortz Interview with Josh Wardle, Inventor of Wordle! 

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Josh Wardle

Software Engineer, Product Manager, Artist

Josh Wardle, a software engineer, is best known for creating the word game Wordle. In January of 2022, The New York Times Company acquired Wordle from Josh. You can now satisfy your Wordle addiction every day in the New York Times. In October, Hasbro debuted a tabletop game based on Wordle. 

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Will Shortz

Puzzle Master for NPR's “Weekend Edition Sunday” 

Crossword Editor of The New York Times 

Founder and Director of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament,

Founder of the World Puzzle Championship in 1992

Co-founded the World Puzzle Federation in 1999.

The world’s only academically accredited puzzle master, Will has a degree in Enigmatology, the study of puzzles from Indiana University. He is the author or editor of more than 500 puzzle books and has appeared as himself in both movies and television. There is so much more to read about Will, we suggest perusing his website HERE

To watch Will's first POP Duo with Garry Trudeau, visit here

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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

Breaking Through Innovation Barriers in Uncertain Times

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Ted Curtin

EVP - Chief Innovation Officer at ProdigyWorks

A strategic global marketing and innovation leader with extensive experience in brand innovation, strategy, insights, and consumer activation across a number of industry verticals. Ted is the Chief Innovation Officer at ProdigyWorks, a creative ideation and global innovation lab that grew out of a partnership with Mensa. ProdigyWorks’ taps into an exclusive global network of High-IQ thinkers, creative geniuses, and industry experts to quickly build out robust innovation pipelines and deliver transformative innovation opportunities for some of the world’s biggest companies and best-loved brands. Audiences benefit from Ted’s passion for accelerating innovation, pushing creative boundaries, breaking through organizational innovation barriers and moving companies ahead of competitors by tapping into high-level cognitive and cultural diversity. Ted’s ability to address real-world examples of breakthrough innovation success across a variety of industries makes him extremely relevant to a range of marketing, insights, and business executives across Food/Bev, CPG, Toys, Tech, Health, and more..

Supporting the Mental Health of Kids – We all Have a Part to Play

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Peyton Gulley

Director, Content Partnerships and Development at Calm

Peyton leads content partnerships and development at Calm, the #1 creator of sleep and mindfulness content.  Since the launch of Calm Kids in 2021, Peyton has developed partnerships between Calm and globally recognized brands, such as Disney, Hasbro, Spin Master, Universal Studios, Mattel and Roald Dahl Story Company, with the purpose of providing quality mental health tools and resources for parents and children that are fun and engaging.  Peyton is a former high school teacher, Stanford Law graduate and author of "Stella and the Dinos...Alive in Space."

The GATHERING - A Black Inventors Got Game Episode 1

2022 TAGIE WINNER Game Changer of the Year Award

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James Howard

Executive Director At Black Inventors Hall Of Fame And Executive Producer BIHOF Films. Design Thinking Leader,CEO Entrepreneurial U. Board Of Directors, U.S. Intellectual Property Alliance

The GATHERING is the first of a three-part episodic documentary series that tells of how legendary Black toy and game inventors come together for the first time in Washington D.C. for a historic occasion - to share their secrets to succeeding in an industry that all but overlooks them. Panelists share poignant advice on overcoming racism and rejection while engaging in lively discussions on mentorship, diversity, inclusion, and equity in the toy and game industry. Presented with endearing childhood reenactments, The GATHERING offers advice on parenting a curious-minded child and provides audiences with valuable lessons in endurance, overcoming barriers, and believing in self.

We're in a Youth Mental Health Crisis.

The Toy & Game Industry Needs to be Part of the Solution

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Rachele Harmuth

Head of ThinkFun division of Ravensburger

Rachele is passionate about play and creating products that make an impact on kids’ lives. Focused on spreading the word that we can build kids resilience and MESH skills through play. She is Head of Thinkfun division of Ravensburger where they design activities and games that build kids skills with progressive challenges.

How is Crowdfunding and Social Media Evolving?

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Tanner Yarro

President at Yarro Studios. 2 million in sales in 30 days. Product and design house for the gaming industry.

I make toys and games and handle all aspects of business

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?

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T.J. Simmons

Vice President of Sales: Specialty & Key Accounts at THiN AiR Brands, LLC

President of the ASTRA Board of Directors

Organizational and communication skills make you good at your job and passion drives the success. I have an incredible passion for the toy industry as a true believer that play is the key factor in development for every child, person and family as a whole. I pour that passion into my work and consistently move forward, constantly improving.

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Tom Rushton

President, Revenew Sales

ASTRA Board of Directors

Revenew Sales is a Toy Industry Consultant and Sales Representation organization. We specialize in Retail Key Account Management...working with friends/buyers at mid-tier retailers across the US/Canada. We also assist our clients with Sourcing, Product Development...and Building the "Bank of Karma". We are available as consultants to help grow your company into what you know it can become.

Intellectual Property - What is Protectable Now and in the Future... AI, NFTs and More

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Francesco Sardone

As a partner at Carter, DeLuca & Farrell, and with over 20 years of Intellectual Property (IP) Law experience, I have developed an expertise in all aspects of IP law, including U.S. and international patent, trademark and copyright prosecution. I have been fortunate enough to work with small, medium and large clients who are looking to protect their ideas and/or build IP portfolios. I primarily work in the mechanical, electromechanical and medical arts, with an emphasis on medical and surgical devices including robotics, as well as, working with clients in the toy and game industries. My practice also includes conducting due diligence investigations, validity studies and clearance searches and preparing freedom-to-practice and validity opinions. 

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Jason Keener

Senior Member of Irwin IP LLC . Jason is an experienced IP litigator and trial attorney who has worked on a wide range of issues, including patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets. Jason has a particular expertise in technology, software, and Internet related issues. His litigation experience includes trials throughout the country including a number in both the Northern District of Illinois and the Eastern District of Texas. As an alternative to district court litigation, he has also successfully invalidated numerous patents at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. His practice has included extensive experience with defending companies facing patent infringement suits from non-practicing entities (with a focus on East Texas) through a variety of strategies, including pre-complaint aggression to avoid a complaint, preemptory declaratory judgment practice, invalidation of the patents through the Patent Office, coordination of joint defense groups to minimize costs, and defeat of the NPE at trial.

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Andrew Himebaugh

Associate Attorney at Irwin IP LLC 

I am a passionate intellectual property attorney with expansive experience including litigation, post-grant proceedings, and patent prosecution.

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? 

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Julia Fitzgerald

Chief Marketing Officer at American Lung Association

Author of Midsize - Marketing for Midsize Firms

Julia is a CMO and senior executive with over 20 years of leadership experience, specializing in CPG, retail, franchising, non-profit, B2B business models, and bringing pragmatic digital plans to midsize organizations. She is the author of Midsize, the newly released book that shares success strategies for marketing in midsize firms. Fitzgerald earned her MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern, and she serves as as CMO at the American Lung Association, director on the Kellogg Alumni Board, marketing and leadership speaker, and mentor to young marketing professionals.

After working in both large and midsize firms across various business sectors, Julia Fitzgerald had a revelation: the size of a firm does indeed matter when looking for your dream marketing job. Midsize gives readers an insider’s look at how an organization’s size can impact the work experience for marketers. It is the guidebook for those just charting their path in marketing, CMOs evaluating their best fit, and CEOs of midsize organizations hungry for insight on their marketing teams and growth strategies. Midsize features an engaging collection of stories from Fitzgerald and other leaders in the marketing space, providing readers with effective strategies to use for their own midsize teams. Smart, scrappy, and savvy, this is a no-nonsense read on how to make a big impact with limited resources.

Panel of Experts to Answer Questions about Industry Basics and Pitching Tips


Peggy Brown

Owner, Peggy Brown Creative Consulting

We at Peggy Brown Creative have invented and developed hundreds of products that have been mass-produced and marketed all over the world. We work with the world’s biggest and best toy, game, and kids' entertainment companies in a number of capacities: as inventors, designers, writers, creative directors, consultants, and everything in between. The industry has grown to depend on us to offer innovative new products to add to their lines, time and time again. Brown has a Fine Arts degree in Industrial Design. She is the only woman in the US to start, own and run a pro toy invention company with a dedicated studio and fulltime staff. She started her first invention company, Alley Oop, in 1991, was Vice President of Product Development at PlayMonster for seven years, and now owns and runs Peggy Brown Creative.

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Matt Nuccio

President, Design Edge, Inc.

Design Edge is a toy and game development company and licensing agency whose clients include Mattel, Hasbro, Spin Master and Fisher-Price to name only a few. For 4 years, Matt co-chaired the Toy Association (TA), on their associate panel, representing all designers and inventors within the toy industry. Currently, Matt sits on the board of directors of the United Inventors Association of America (UIA), a non-profit organization working to educate and advocate for all types of inventors. He also sits on the the People of Play (POP) advisory board and Toy Association’s Creative Factor advisory board helping start-up inventors to navigate successfully within the Toy Industry. Matt writes a column in Toy Family Entertainment magazine focusing on the industry, and, he has lectured at ChiTAG, New York Toy Fair, ASTRA, Hong Kong Toy Fair, and various inventor clubs around the world including the 2019 Emerging Innovation Summit in Melbourne Australia.

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Azhelle Wade

The Toy Coach

Azhelle's been having way too much fun in the toy industry over the past 11 years working for companies like Toys R Us, Party City, and Madame Alexander, just to name a few! She's climbed up and across the ladder in the toy world, starting out as a designer, later gaining 3 toy patents and eventually becoming a VP at a toy company. After building and mentoring a diverse and talented team toward success, she had the vision to do the same with newcomers to the toy industry. Azhelle combined her industry knowledge, inspirational mantras, and extra passionate toy talks to create The Toy Coach Podcast: Making It In The Toy Industry. The Toy Coach Podcast is designed to demystify the toy industry for aspiring toy inventors and entrepreneurs. Each week touches on industry topics with  encouragement, toyspiration and step-by-step advice. Listeners have credited the show with helping improve the marketability of their ideas, connect with toy agents, prep for toy trade shows, and above all else, clarify the next steps to make their toy or game idea real.

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Gene Murtha

Chair, Mid-Atlantic Region SCORE Association, Executive Committee, People of Play, ASTRA Board of Directors

​Gene Murtha has over 40 years in general management, marketing, sales and product development within the toy, games and gift industries. Gene’s corporate background includes 16 years at Mattel in various executive roles, both in the US and abroad. He served as General Manager of Mattel UK and Ireland, ran the Toys-r-Us Customer Business Team for Mattel, opened markets in China, Japan, India and Eastern Europe. Gene is a patent-holding inventor who has experience as an entrepreneur, having started and run Main Street Toy company the 1990’s. There he developed and marketed many successful products including Slap Wraps, one of the hottest fads of the ‘90’s.
In one capacity or another, Gene estimates he has brought over 7,000 concepts to market, managing many mega-hit properties such as Star Wars, Cabbage Patch Kids, Trivial Pursuit, Barbie and Tickle Me Elmo. He joined SCORE in 2011, has served as a District Director and as a Regional Vice President for the Mid-Atlantic States. As a volunteer mentor for small businesses, Gene has served hundreds of aspiring start-up, counseling existing business owners on sales growth in a variety of industries. Gene is a member of various Corporate and Not-for-profit Boards. 


Robert Yusim

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

Robert Yusim has a passion for helping inventors and companies launch their new Consumer Products. Through his 30+ Year career, Robert has successfully launched hundreds of Consumer Products and Brands across most consumer categories including Housewares, Kitchen, Health & Beauty, Fitness, Hardware, Automotive and most notably toys. Early in his career, Robert was fortunate to work directly with his mentor Raymond Kives one of the
founders of K-Tel and Quality Dino Entertainment. Dating back to the 1990’s Robert has been part of the success of many amazing As Seen On TV Consumer Brands including The Suzanne Somers Thighmaster®, Sweepa® Rubber Broom, Sophist-O-Twist®, Restform® Airbed, Gymform® & many more. As Founder/President of Product Counsel, Robert is a leading expert at guiding inventors and helping them to launch or license their innovations. Recent successes include Pixicade®, Pop2Play® and the FlareÔ Light Up make Up Brush. Robert is also an expert at
launching new consumer brands using Direct-to-Consumer Strategies. Robert initiated the Direct-to-Consumer craze in the Toy Category with Spin Master Ltd., launching brands including Moon Sand®, Pixos®, Havoc Heli® and more. Since 2011, Robert has worked with many Companies to help them launch their Brands including Wubble Ball® (#1 on
NPD), LaserX®, Zippysack®, Rapid Ramen Maker® (From Shark Tank), Pom Pom Wow® (#1 on NPD), Kurio® Tablet and many more. Robert routinely reviews inventions and/or sits on pitch panels at many of the largest tradenshows including The Licensing Show, The Inspired Home (Housewares) Show, Toy Fair and more. Robert has also written many published articles and speaks at various conferences.

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

In-person or via Zoom for 15 Minutes

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What Past Attendees had to Say...

I highly recommend attending POP's Inventor Conferences. The knowledge, networking and access to decision makers is unmatched worldwide. I got my start in 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 Conference Sponsors!

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