10 Questions

Each month in the Inventor Newsletter I ask 10 Questions of an established inventor or game company. The results are posted below and will be updated monthly.

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David Fuhrer, Funanuf (Oct '07)
Q - # of years in the industry, # of years as a toy & game inventor?
A - 20 years in the industry inventing/consulting on toys and games.

Q - About how many toys & games have you had published? Which is/are your favorite(s)?
A - More than 200 license agreements. Some of my favorites are - Nerf Vortex Football, Aquadoodle, Backwords game, Hershey's S'Mores Maker, McDonald's McFlurry Maker.

Q - Favorite toy or game that is not yours?
A - The Frisbee.

Q - What did you do before this? And how did you make the transition?
A - I was a Hollywood talent agent. I had an unusual skill growing up to speak backwards fluently. This skill led to appearances on many national TV shows and also a Guinness World Records as the 'fastest backwards talker.' The exposure inspired me to create the Backwords boardgame which Random House released in 1998. In 2007, the game has been reintroduced by Imagination Entertainment.

Q - In a typical year... how many toy & game ideas do you prototype? how many presentations do you make? how many get licensed?
A - This is hard to answer but we create and present dozens. Fortunately, we have entered into numerous license agreements over the last 5 years.

Q - What is your process for getting toys & games seen?
A - Relationships with key executives and familiarity with multiple product lines. We are very focused on creating brand opportunities and then targeting the appropriate partner.

Q - What is your favorite thing about the game/toy industry? Least favorite?
A - My favorite thing about the toy industry are the wonderful people worldwide we have met and established both business and personal relationships with. I also enjoy getting 'up to bat' all the time for the next big hit. My least favorite things are the Fedex truck pulling up with the latest prototype being returned with a 'pass.' Also, the short life cycle of most products and the constant pressure to reduce cost at the expense of quality and innovation.

Q - Do you see any current trends in the industry?
A - More technology and age compression of the traditional toy consumer. We have to view the concept of what a toy or game is through a different prism than we did a few years ago. For today's child, an iPod is a 'toy' as is a cell phone. We have to create things that they want and that may not be what we historically viewed as a toy.

Q - What one thing that you know now, do you wish you had known when you were starting out?
A - The importance of strategic alliances to get products to market.

Q - If you were to give beginning inventors one bit of advice, what would it be?
A - Here are a couple of pieces of advice. Woody Allen once said something like "70% of success is just showing up." I suggest that would-be inventors go to as many trade events as possible to establish high level contacts and also to familiarize themselves with product lines. I would also suggest that you be very open minded to aligning yourself with others that might bring a strategic piece to your invention. Understand your skills and weaknesses so you may collaborate with others to get products placed. A smaller percentage of something is better than 100% of nothing.


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