Tom Carsello – SVP of Retail at Creata USA Inc.
What was your favorite toy or game as a child?
Growing up the toy that stands out with the fondest memories was this amazing table top game. I have lots of great memories playing this hockey table top game with my brothers, sisters, and friends.
Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?
Interesting story for me; I was designing Kodak point and shoot cameras for a Hong Kong based company called Haking. It was my first gig out of college and during my time at Haking I self-taught myself how to use a 3D solid/surface software package called Euclid. I was ready to move on after 10+ years at Haking and had heard from my brother-in-law that a company called Simon Marketing was looking for a person to head up their CAD department and they needed someone who knew Euclid. I was hired as head of Simon Marketing’s CAD group and started sculpting the Fisher Price Happy Meal Under 3 toys on the computer. That was my entry into the world of toys and I have not looked back since.
What advice can you give to inventors who are presenting new toy or game ideas to you?
Before pitching the actual idea, give some background of how your idea was formed and how you envision it working and why it makes sense for that idea to be implemented into a product. I little upfront information goes a long way for a successful pitch.
Always try to have a working prototype of your idea or toy....I can’t tell you the number of times having a working sample can not only answer any questions you might have about the game but it’s also a great way to get toy company excited about your idea. I’ve seen a lot of toy inventor ideas and you almost always gravitate to working samples over a static drawing” So my best advice is to take the extra time and money to prototype it out.
Additionally, part of the pitching process is to be open to other ideas that relate to other new applications or even a different spin on your idea. This is the creative process and it takes someone with the right frame of mind to go into a pitch and learn and improve upon what you are initially pitching.
And if you can’t pitch your toy idea and 30 seconds or less without someone understand it, then your item is either confusing or needs more work.
What does your typical day look like?
Lots of emails and phone calls – I am trying to connect with as many people as possible every day. I am constantly looking to work with high quality honest people in every area of the business. I meet with team members daily to go over design progress and work through any issues they have encountered. I try to keep my meetings down to a minimum, I set the agenda for my team and let them work. I am fortunate to have a great team that executes at a high level and trust that they will deliver consistently.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I love to develop new products - it gives me a thrill every time we start a new development. From concepting, to engineering, to prototyping, and then to finally produce the product. It is a ride that I have made many times and still have the same desire to get it right. The passion is still there for me.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had and what did you learn from it?
The worst job I ever had was working a polling place in Chicago handing out candidate pamphlets to incoming voters on election night. It taught me that I did not want to go into politics.
What and/or who inspires you?
I am inspired by smart, kind, hardworking people who put themselves out there every day to make a difference. One of my favorite things to do is watch interviews of some of the most intelligent people in the world and how they have dedicated themselves to make this world a better place.
Where were you born?
I was born and raised in Chicago. Proud to be a native of Chicago, it was a great place to grow up in the 70’s and 80’s. I have great memories of my childhood in Chicago.
What was your life like growing up?
Life in a Chicago neighborhood was full of action. Summers where living on our bikes and riding all over Chicagoland, winters where revolved around indoor school activities. Lots of sports, we would organize pickup baseball, basketball, and football games at one of the many public parks in Chicago. Went to St. Ferdinand for grammar school and St. Patrick’s for high school, I remember we had a great sense of community in our neighborhood. Everyone knew everyone, and we played together as one united neighborhood. I still remember the evening get-togethers where every kid in the neighborhood would come together to play different games. We had not much to work with, but we always came up with creative games to play each night.
Where did you grow up and how did that influence who you are today?