What do you do in the industry?
I’m lucky enough to have been involved in the research, design, development, management, manufacture, supply, launch, and retail of 1,500+ CE hardware and software products. Spent over a decade working for a large format electronics retailer (head of product development) then manufacturing consumer electronics under license for Mattel, Activision, Fox, Nickelodeon. Once living in LA, I of course worked for will.i.am because that’s a clause in your LA rental agreement, then a design studio for Google / Uber, and currently creating a small electric scooter rideshare competitor to Bird and Lime.
What is your claim to fame in the industry?
I’m member to a small group of people who have performed stand-up comedy for NASA at Kennedy Space Center during a live rocket launch (is there more than 1 member in that group?)
What are some of your long-term goals?
I’m a maker who loves the intersection of entertainment, technology, and play. Developing products and experiences fulfils me, whilst performing inspires me. Short term I’d love to be involved in projects such as LEGO Masters, and long term I have an unflinching desire to build a time machine.
Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?
My dad worked for Mattel, he then owned a few toy stores while I was growing up in Australia, so from the age of being able to ride a bike I was working in the stores, stocking shelves, using archaic POS machines, and transacting customers with click-clack - wow I can’t believe I still remember the name of those credit card machines. Getting on the shop floor experience from around 8 onwards, which by the way I think is now totallyyy illegal to make a kid work like that, however it did engrain the retail ecosystem deep in me, it taught me how to buy, market, and sell.
My first solo retail business started in grade 4 when I would purchase Warhead candies at the local store for 5 cents, then sell them at school for 10 cents, hitting 50 points margin at 10, not bad at all! Sadly I got in a lot of trouble from my teachers for this salesmanship, presumably the thugs running the school canteen didn’t want little Gra distributing delicious goods on their turf (and yes my name was Gra back then, only in later life did the ‘y’ in Gray get added).
What are you working on right now?
I’ve created a dockless rideshare system similar to Bird and Lime, and am exploring deployment locations, along with future mobility devices - maybe one day scooters will self-park?...
What are some of your short and long-term goals?
I’m a maker who lives for the intersection of entertainment, technology, and play. Developing products and experiences fulfills me, whilst performing inspires me. Short term I’d love to be involved in projects such as LEGO Masters, and long term I have an unflinching desire to build a time machine.
Mary tells me many of the creatives at LEGO read these interviews, so I'd like to take this opportunity to
Dear literally everyone who works / knows people / once had coffee
with someone from LEGO,
Can I host your show, yes, great, thanks, let's start filming tomorrow.
Watch my show reel!
What trends do you see in toys or games that excite or worry you?
I first hand saw the devastation Toys-R-Us entry into Australia under the ‘World 4 Kids’ entity had on local business in the late 90’s. Retail is harder than ever, and with the recent total demise of Toys-R-Us, it casts a worrying shadow on local toy retail, and the entire supporting ecosystem.
What advice can you give to inventors who are presenting new toy or game ideas to you?
Think your toy through, and if someone doesn’t buy it, you make it yourself, contract manufacture it, self-distribute, there’s so much opportunity to start small these days, the secret is this - with the internet & alibaba.com you’re halfway there!
What advice would you give a young adult graduating from high school or college today?
Make things. Always build stuff. Learn to sell products and experiences. Do n