Toy Inventors Workshop Northamptonshire September 22 2015

Lego and Hasbro Toy Design Gurus to Speak at the Inventors’ Workshop

Inventors Workshop for toy and board game designers, 22 September, Northamptonshire, UK –

Budding toy and board game inventors will have a unique opportunity to meet professional toy designers from some of the world’s biggest toy companies at this year’s Inventors Workshop.

Samuel Thomas Johnson, a toy designer with LEGO Group, and Hasbro’s Dougal Grimes are among those confirmed to speak at the one day event, which takes place on 22 September at Whittlebury Hall in Northamptonshire.

The workshop provides both new and experienced toy and board game designers with a chance to take part in life-changing face to face ‘pitch’ meetings with leading toy companies as well as benefit from a morning of educational sessions covering critical issues including funding, toy safety, legislation, intellectual property protection, using technology and pitching to retail

Hasbro’s Dougal Grimes will lead a panel session called How We Made It!, which will see Samuel Thomas Johnson, Jenga inventor Leslie Scott and Crazy Cart creator Ali Kermani deliver a rare insight into life as a toy designer and the secrets behind the success of some of the industry’s best loved products.

“It’s always important for new toy and game inventors to understand the challenges that others are going through,” said Dougal Grimes, Hasbro. “And it’s important for toy companies to support the inventor community because if they are successful they’ll invent more, and we want to keep that community alive.”

Also on the How We Made It! panel is Gillian Logan, who attended the inaugural conference as a delegate last year with her idea for Skinny Sketcher drawing kits. A major toy manufacturer signed Gillian on the spot and her product is now in production and on the cusp of going on sale.

“Getting to pitch your ideas to the toy industry’s major players is a fantastic opportunity for inventors, some of whom have been trying to get in front of the decision makers for years, and everyone who attended last year came away feeling inspired, energised and better placed to get their products on toy shop shelves,” Gillian Logan, Skinny Sketcher.

Billy Langsworthy, Inventors Workshop conference director, finished by saying: “Toy and board game inventors could not be more important to the toy industry because, without them, there would be no new toys, no new play experiences the industry would stagnate.

“The tricky part for inventors who know they have a great product is getting in front of the right people. They can spend years patiently knocking on doors in the hope of getting their products noticed and picked up. We launched the Inventors Workshop to expedite that process and their frustration and we’ve stepped things up this year with an inspiring conference programme and the life changing One2One sessions that will give inventors an even greater chance of connecting with the right business partner.”

Tickets to the Inventors Workshop are on sale now for just £99. This early bird rate is applicable until 7 August and can be accessed here

Learning to Test Business Ideas at a Leicester Start up Weekend

A while ago I posted up about Leicester Startdom (Business Startup) Weekend so I thought I would share my experience of the weekend. It is something which should be of interest to anyone looking to start any sort business including inventors wanting to bring products to market, but who need to know how to test if their ideas are viable before plunging in time or cash.

Another FREE Startup Weekend running in Leicester on 27th June

There is another FREE Startdom Weekend running in Leicester on 27th June so if you want to learn how to start a business without wasting time and money check it out at I am going again!

So what  happens at the Startdom Weekend?

The Friday Pitch (don’t worry it’s only if you want to)

On Friday I went to the building in Leicester known as Incubate, a hub designed to help new start-ups. The event started about 6 and up on the top floor there were about 20 chairs ready for people to arrive, people interested in starting a new business just like me. Things like this are always pretty daunting, so I found a friendly face and sat down. The evening was for anyone who wanted to to pitch a business idea – it didn’t have to be big or polished as long as you got the idea across. If you didn’t have an idea you wanted to pitch that was fine too.

The ideas were voted on by everyone taking part in the weekend and the ones with the most votes were chosen (mine was not  – quick sob! ). We could then choose which project we wanted to work on for the weekend. Ideas ranged from an online gift business, to recycling metal in computers to alcoholic beverages. And if that wasn’t enough for one night there was take-away pizza to eat too :).

Saturday – The Lean Canvas

We had to throw away any ideas we had of writing a big business plan and instead we learned about the lean canvas. The lean canvas is a sort of one page business plan designed to make you look at key areas of the business – assumed target market, biggest risks, who is your customer etc. One of the biggest things that I, and I  think most people are apprehensive of is that we had to find potential customers to talk to to find out if the idea was viable. Our team were working on a Beer idea so this meant talking to people in bars. Walking up to strangers to ask them questions is not something I or most people are very comfortable with, but it had to be done and no-one told us to “get lost”. You also learn what sort of questions you should ask – to ask questions only in the past ie. Do you drink beer, what sort of beer do you like etc. You shouldn’t ask things like “WOULD you drink this type of beer” as this is all guess work and often people say what they think you want to hear (or say yes to get rid of you).


Imagine having access to several business mentors from all different types of business at your disposal to give their advice on how to progress the project (you can also get help with your own ideas too). That’s exactly what you get at the Startdom Weekend – and all for FREE!

Sunday Stick or Pivot the Business Idea

Sunday was a case at looking at the responses and revisiting the lean canvas to decide if the original idea was viable. If not, can you “bend” the idea a little or pivot as the call it in the world of Lean Startup to give the potential customer something they will want?

Overall Experience

I really enjoyed the weekend, as well as the tuition and mentors one of the things I enjoyed was having like-minded entrepreneurial people around me all with a common goal to start a new business.

There is another weekend running in Leicester on 27th June, check it out here I hope to meet you there!


Startup Weekend in Leicester UK 4 April 2014

If you are an entrepreneur or like me a wantrapreneur living anywhere near Leicester in the UK you might want to check out a Startup Weekend event that is taking place very soon.

The main point of the weekend is to learn to validate a business idea, turn it into a business model and begin customer development.

From the Startdom Website

“The event will start with an introductory evening meeting on Friday  4th April 2014 at Exchange Bar, 50 Rutland St, Leicester LE1 1RD. UPDATE: Friday will now be at at 18:00 in the Incubator at Incubate Leicester, 117 Granby Street, Leicester LE1 6FD. In this meeting you will be able to form teams and vote for the most profitable ideas. The atmosphere will be informal, friendly and full of excitement.

The next two days (Saturday and Sunday) will be dedicated to business building with the help of business advisors, MENTORS and entrepreneurs. The teaching will be intense and the learning will be fast paced. The aim will be to have an initial product and maybe also a customer by the end of the weekend.”

The three-day event will cost only 45 pounds.

To find out more check out the website