February 2009 | Vol. VIII - No. 2
MagnaPlay Cases Hit Market in Just Months
Son’s Project Begins Business Venture That Sticks
MagnaPlay, a magnet toy company, grew from a project that scientist Maya Gowri was working on with her 10-year-old son, who had to develop a board game for a class project, she told TDmonthly Magazine. When the pair failed to find on the market any magnetic activity case to use for the project, Maya began calling toy stores and vendors to obtain samples of materials that were available for such a product.
With help from her son, she began putting together a prototype — a wooden box with a magnetic surface — that would soon become her company’s first toy, the patent-pending MagnaPlay MagnaKase.
FROM PROTOTYPE TO PRODUCTION
After designing the case in June 2008, Maya began talking with her friends and family, showing them her idea but never letting on that she was considering entering the toy business. Upon receiving positive feedback, she began taking her prototype to toy stores. She also met with a trademark and patent attorney and searched toy directories to see what was already available.
The official product launch came in November, just months later.
“My son loved it and he was my inspiration,” Maya told TDmonthly. “He’s my cofounder, and he’s been a part of this process, so he’s learning right along with me.”
For the component pieces, Maya obtained samples from manufacturers in the United States and Canada, preferring to deal domestically. In addition to her North American suppliers, she also is using a manufacturer in India for her wooden magnetic toys.
“The company (in India) had high-quality products and they were willing to customize [their] products and make several different samples for me to look at before deciding,” she said of her decision.
FINANCING AND PLANNING PURCHASES
A former biological researcher, Maya funded much of her new business venture with money she had saved, but banks weren’t eager to lend the additional capital she needed. So, she borrowed some of the remaining $50,000 from her family.
Once her suppliers were in hand, there were more decisions that needed to be made, such as how much product to make at one time and how to best purchase material.
“At first I bought in bulk to save money, but then as things evolved and changed, I needed other materials, so buying in bulk wasn’t such a savings,” Maya admitted.
DIRECT BUY KICKS OFF SALES
To control costs and get her products into retail stores, Maya launched a website where both wholesale and retail customers can purchase directly from MagnaPlay. She has also offered stores incentives to market the toys through the Preferred Store Partners Program, giving storeowners samples to share with customers. The program compensates storeowners with a significant percentage of the purchase from the customers they refer to the online store.
Maya assembles small orders in-house and uses a local nonprofit organization to assemble large orders.
“You have to be flexible to be successful,” she told TDmonthly. “Think outside the box.”
See some MagnaPlay products below:
The MagnaKase™ Magnetic Activity Case is a sturdy plastic case with a magnetic dry erase surface and serves both as an activity board and storage case. The MagnaKase is an open-ended toy that, when combined with other MagnaPlay activities, allows children to engage in multiple activities in a short period of time. Activities sold separately.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21188 (added 11/3/2008)
This MagnaKase suits coloring activities while kids are on the go. Children can use the case top as a dry erase activity board. The set includes one MagnaKase, four double-sided Reusable Color and Erase coloring puzzle, two Magnet strips to secure coloring pages to the activity surface, six Foohy Washable dry erase markers six (Sanford Corp) and one sponge eraser.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21189 (added 11/3/2008)
The MagnaKase™ Wooden Magnetic Activity Box is a sturdy wooden box with magnetic dry erase surfaces, and serves both as an activity board and storage case. The 11-3/4" x 9-1/4"x 2" box is made of renewable wood and has brass hinges and clasp. This MagnaKase has two magnetic surfaces and comes with two magnetic strips to secure the coloring pages. Activities sold separately.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21190 (added 11/3/2008)
MagnaColeraze™ is a reusable “Color and Erase” coloring activity that helps children develop their creativity while they're having fun. These sheets let children color the pictures and solve the puzzle over and over again until they get them right. The sheets are water proof, and have magnetic strips on them enabling their use with the MagnaKase while on the go.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21191 (added 11/3/2008)
Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
The MagnaPlay Magnetic Activity Travel Set includes one MagnaKase and one magnetic wooden activity, such as the Alphabet Picture Puzzle or the Number Match Up. Children can use the top of the MagnaKase as a dry-erase magnetic activity board while they're on the go. The MagnaKase also comes with two magnetic strips that secure coloring pages to the activity surface. Launch date: November 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21897 (added 12/19/2008)
Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
The wooden Magnetic Number Match Up Puzzle is a great interactive activity that helps children develop math skills. It comes with 30 colorful wooden pieces that fit together to form three-piece number tiles. Children learn to count the number of objects illustrated on one piece of the tile and match it to the correct number and the right number word. Launch date: December 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21898 (added 12/19/2008)
The MagnaPlay™ Wooden Magnetic Alphabet Picture Puzzle contains self-checking tiles that give little fingers the ability to put puzzles together and keep them together. Launch date: November 15, 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21753 (added 12/12/2008)
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Writer's Bio: Terri Hughes-Lazzell is a freelance journalist based in Ossian, Ind. After spending nearly a decade as a daily newspaper reporter, she has worked as a freelance journalist for more than ten years, writing about a variety of topics. Her work appears in newspapers, magazines and specialty publications nationwide. Read more articles by this author
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