Greg Kopec - Keep it Fun!
My advice to those new to the game… Keep it fun!
As a professional inventor for nearly 30 years and owner of Tremendous Toys LLC, I’ve experienced far more rejection than acceptance but both have taught me valuable lessons and I’m always reminded to Keep It Fun!
Some rejections and what I’ve learned from them include:
“That’s been done, I remember it from Kenner’s line in 1951.”
Due diligence goes a long way. Google and the associated Google patent search is your friend. Now I search high and low to make sure I’m not just recycling an old toy or game, especially one that didn’t do well the first time around.
“That’s a creative way to use duct tape, but is it supposed to dangle like that?”
Now I take my time when making prototypes. A polished prototype will garner more excitement and will be an easier sell than an eyesore of a prototype.
“It’s good but we don’t have a place for it in our line.”
Once again, research will go a long way. I try my best to know a lot about the company I’m showing to, studying current and past toys and games in their line. While it’s true they may be looking to bring something new to their repertoire, it likely won’t stray too far off of their staple product types.
“Is that supposed to be a bird?”
I’ve found that professional artwork, or at least my own best artwork and graphics will sell my idea faster than stick figures and creative use of crayons.
“We watched the video, but had to break for lunch in the middle of it, and most of the team lost interest after that.”
I’ve learned to make my videos play like 30 second commercials instead of major motion pictures. A long boring video won’t sell anything except more Excedrin. Avoid the pitfall of playing an entire game from start to finish on a highlight reel.
Choosing the toy and game inventor’s life may seem to some like a sure fire road to heavy drinking, but there must be something attracting us, right? Right! In fact there are many reasons I stay in the game; here are a handful of them:
The thrill of the pitch.
The joy of hearing “we want to license it”.
Seeing my name and / or picture on the box. This never gets old.
Seeing my invention on the shelves at my local retailers also never gets old.
While there are many other reasons, the royalties are nice too.
In order to remain creative and survive as a professional inventor, even in the face of rejection, you’ve got to know how to laugh and have fun...
Enjoy the video outtakes (I always make an outtake reel and sometimes watch these years later for a good laugh).
Play your own games with family and friends a lot! If you play your games only a few times before tiring of them, it’s likely others will shelve the game quickly too.
At your misplaced screwdriver being found in your own hand.
At the face the exec made when the game’s big payoff scared them.
At the hole you drilled in your last piece of wood that’s ½” too big.
At the name you chose for your newest game. A few of mine include “Balls Up”, “Get Hit”, and “Jumpy Colors”. I can laugh now, but really, what was I thinking?
The bottom line is if you aren’t having fun, even after a string of rejections, maybe inventing toys and games isn’t for you. Conversely, if you are having fun and really do enjoy playing with the toys and games you invent, it will show in your ideas, prototypes, and pitches, and lead to more licenses.