LIFE IS A JOURNEY, ARE YOU READY?

MUST-HAVE TOY FOR XMAS



James Hurley wrote for Telegraph.

That's the message from Wolverhampton toy company Wow! Stuff, which believes it has found the big hit of next Christmas on the video-sharing site.
Wow! Stuff workers spotted a video on the site starring an interactive dancing robot designed by scientists to help therapists improve the social development of autistic children.
 
When managing director Richard North was shown the video, he instantly recognised the potential of the £20,000 device, which was designed by US company BeatBots.
Wow! Stuff is now working with the American business to develop a £25 toy version, called My Keepon, which North believes will be one of the biggest selling toys of next Christmas.
North's company recently secured global distribution for 14 of its products through Toys R Us and has also been invited to work with the retailer on product development.

"They want us to show them toys that no amount of market research could have delivered, things that aren't necessarily 'on trend'. You need them to go 'wow'."

My Keepon, which dances to music and responds to touch, is the product of a new "whoever, wherever" innovation strategy, he said. "If you're growing a business you can have a perception that all the ideas and wealth have to be generated internally. We've realised you have to look outside."

Wow! Stuff uses the internet and social media to hunt for inspiration, "casting a wide net" in its hunt for designers from numerous industries and from anywhere in the world. Last year, it won a National Business Award for its approach to innovation.

On the Business Club forum, Patsy Brett, commercial director of Business Lounge Southend, said companies should also consider turning to their customers for the "next big thing" by "crowdsourcing" – literally getting a crowd's input.

She cited T-shirt manufacturer Threadless, which "crowdsources" initial ideas for new product designs as well as allowing its customers to decide which ones make it to market. " Threadless has got it just right. Innovation... is not the result of a C-level exec with superior intelligence turning his wheels in a plush office."

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