What do you do in the industry?
I’m the Founder and CEO of InRoad Toys. What do I do? I make tape. Lots of tape.
What is your claim to fame in the industry?
I invented PlayTape, instant roads for toy vehicle play, anytime, anywhere. Fame remains elusive.
When I was a kid I had a fascination with stickers. I still have my sticker collection from when I was 8 years old. Somehow that’s turned into a business. Who would have guessed?
Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?
Playing with my 4-year old son on the floor with his Hot Wheels in 2002, I thought, “We have hundreds of toy cars but not a single road. Where are the roads??!!” That spurred the invention of PlayTape. I then spent a dozen years researching the toy industry and tape manufacturing, and a lot of sleepless nights getting up the nerve to launch the product in 2014 at New York Toy Fair. It’s been a wild ride ever since.
What are you working on now?
(Making a PlayTape TV commercial)
What trends do you see in toys or games that excite or worry you?
I come from a 30-year career in high-tech, having spent a lifetime focused on emerging technology and how to apply it to create new value for businesses and consumers. I’ve been an active participant in the increasingly frequent technology revolutions that we used as levers to upend, disrupt, disintermediate, overturn, or overhaul entire industries in grand, sweeping gestures. I now find myself inside the tornado, as technology and toys wrestle to figure out how they will emerge together in a new age. This is a time full of opportunity, and risk.
What advice can you give to inventors who are presenting new toy or game ideas to you?
Good ideas are a dime a dozen. So, first, make sure your idea is better than good. It needs to have real market potential, something you’ve thought through carefully. Then, a sound go-to-market strategy can make all the difference.
What advice would you give a young adult graduating from high school or college today?
Give your life meaning and work hard, because these clichés are true:
What does your typical day look like?
InRoad Toys is a 100% virtual company, so I spend a lot of my day on the phone, emailing, texting, and sharing my screen with others to keep the business humming. We haven’t graduated to video conferencing though. That would require me to get out of my jammies.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The best part is seeing how much someone loves what we created.
What is the worst part of your job?
Paying bills. Isn’t that always the case?
What is the best job you’ve ever had (before now)?
I was a “Revolution Strategist” when the Internet was young. I would help companies figure out how to leverage the Internet for their business. There was a little bit of stardom in that title that caused customers to pause and ask about the Internet revolution. It was a blast.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had and what did you learn from it?
Looking back, I think I enjoyed and made the best of every job I ever had. My first job was at a Carvel ice cream store. What lasting skills did I learn? Customer service and swirling soft-serve.
What and/or who inspires you?
The people who inspire me the most are the technology pioneers who created everyday necessities out of thin air. Steve Jobs was among the greatest contemporaries in that category.
How do you recharge or take a break?
I walk into the kitchen. I eat. I watch Netflix. I drive the convertible. I travel. I should exercise more.
What was your favorite toy or game as a child?
Monopoly. I was the kid who sat in the attic for hours playing Monopoly against myself. I usually won.
Where did you grow up and how did that influence who you are today?