This trending and up-and-coming toy and family entertainment company burst onto the international toy scene in only 3 years. Since then, their success has been, well, pretty much spectacular. . .
In 2017, only a few years after attending University in The Netherlands, YULU partners Jochem van Rijn and Thijmen de Schipper arrived at Toy Fair with their own booth on the main floor Javits Center. By the end of the show, they secured an exclusive deal with Target to distribute their first branded line of games and distribution partnerships with several top-tier companies.
Not a bad rookie year for two not-even-30-something year olds.
The duo originally met in University during their masters’ studies. They first worked together on an app about the rules of Games & Sports, which launched just before the 2012 Olympic games in London. The app, which was purchased by the Dutch government, helped open several doors for the partners. It also inspired the two young entrepreneurs to get into the toys and games business. They decided then that their passion was to try and create fresh new play experiences people had never seen before. They recognized that the toys and family entertainment business was a difficult one to break into. But they still decided to move ahead with their plans because they so deeply believed in their concepts for their products.
From then on they set their minds to making fresh, imaginative, active play and entertainment experiences.
Their first toy launch was Helix Paddle Game. It was based on a game Thijmen played during his semester as an exchange student in China. Their love of competitive activity games, along with feedback they received from several industry experts, helped them turn a traditional yard game into a modern play experience. The pair next collaborated with Dutch University, set up production in The Netherlands and traveled around the world to sell Helix. They ultimately sold distribution rights to the toymaker Zing. Jochem and Thijmen subsequently moved to Hong Kong to set up offices and begin mass-production shortly after their graduation.
In 2017, YULU launched three new games under their own Spy Code line with mega retailer Target. One, Operation: Escape, cleverly tapped into the massive popularity of escape rooms and capitalized on that year’s unparalleled increase in the sale of games and puzzles. The year culminated with Target naming Operation: Escape to their Top Toys of the year list.
Later that year, YULU was also a finalist in The Toy Association’s annual TOTY (Toy of the Year) Awards in the category of “Rookie of the Year,” while Thijmen was recognized as a “Rising Star” finalist as part of the prestigious Chicago Toy & Game Group TAGIES awards.
In 2018, the company has experienced rapid worldwide expansion which has included the launch of diverse new product and a move into new toy aisles, a dramatic increase in personnel including the appointment of three new general managers in North America, Europe and Asia as well as an international expansion from its Hong Kong headquarters with the opening of new offices in Europe and North America.
As Jochem and Thijmen move their company forward, they continue to advocate the fundamental need for physical, social and emotional engagement in the creation of their line, plus a lot of fun!
Today their ever-expanding line includes an impressive roster of 16 unique toys and games including the successful and growing SPY CODE brand, award-winning innovative, fun family and party games like Watermelon Smash (named one of the “Most Wanted Toys Summer 2018 by TTPM and one of the Hot The Toy Insider), Tic Tac Tongue (named by Target as one of the ‘Toy Toys of 2018), Hackathon, Pacemaker Extreme and Cut the Wire along with Flip Finz and expansions to their HELIX line of outdoor playthings.
YULU products are available in both mass merchants like Target and Walmart, online retailers, as well as specialty stores.
Stay tuned to see what happens next at YULU!