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GoldieBloxToys for the Girl Engineer Published On: Thursday, December 18, 2014 Views 2614

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It is always easy to think of an idea of bringing about a change at large but you barely find a few who actually stand-up and say, ‘dude, let me fix this’!

GoldieBlox was born out of a similar thought! GoldieBlox is a toy company to introduce girls to the field of engineering at the very base level.

A mechanical engineer by qualification & currently the founder of GoldieBlox – Debbie Sterling strongly felt that engineering was one field where the presence of women needed to be increased big-time but there was no easier way to do it.

Just then she got the idea of “Goldie,” a smart young girl who would be featured in the book that comes with the construction toy and the girls would help Goldie solve problems by building things. This idea indirectly encouraged young girls to the field of engineering.

She chose Goldie as the name coz Goldielocks was one character that was never used by Disney and was an instant hit amongst the girls with the obvious girlie feel it gave.

Now after the necessary calculations were done, without wasting any time Debbie rushed to raise money for the prototype. She launched a Kickstarter campaign and within just 5 days crossed her goal and raised a total of USD 285,881 with 5,519 backers by 17 October 2012.

Debbie Sterling

With the money raised, Debbie along with her team of volunteers created & tested the prototype amongst more than a hundred girls in the Bay Area, just to see how they reacted. At the same time they also created a Shopify website or a webstore for orders.

Now while all that was happening, the unexpected happened! That video they created for the Kickstarter campaign went viral and in a matter of days they received 10’s of thousands of pre-orders. This was a huge shock for her!

As much as she was happy, the fear of falling short on her commitments feared her too. But she acted calmly and decided to take things step-by-step.

As a first, the prototype which was built with wooden blocks, a wooden frame, thread spools, clay, and Velcro needed to be replaced with something better. The head of production at the last company she worked for helped her out greatly with this issue as he had spent decades in the toy industry in the past. He got Debbie connected with a factory in China that could do quality injection-molded plastic for the toys.

And thus she was able to complete the initial forty-huge-thousand orders that she had received.

Once the orders were completed, Debbie flew to the factory to check the ready lot and a huge tragedy that could have taken place got averted. When she checked the product it was found that one of the axles was too tight to fit into the pegboard. This was taken care of by the producer after minor tweaks in the set.

Anyways, the happy news for them was that their revenues now soared up to USD 1-million. So with this she decided to grow her team of herself to 15 people.

The success she received next was such that, in the summer of 2013, GoldieBlox made it into ‘Toys R Us’, right next to Barbie and all the other toys. At the same time their revenues also grew to another level and were touching USD 300,000+ per month in gross.

To increase their business, the company also released a viral commercial advertisement featuring girls singing an altered version of the Beastie Boys song “Girls”

But to their unfortunate luck, the Beastie Boys accused GoldieBlox of copyright infringement, to which GoldieBlox sued them for declaratory judgment in U.S. District Court in San Francisco in November 2013, seeking a declaration of fair use due to parody. Eventually the lawsuit and the video were withdrawn after mutual terms were agreed.

Just after that in 2014, GoldieBlox received their biggest achievement when they won a contest amongst 20,000 other applicants sponsored by Intuit, which gave them a 30-second commercial spot during the broadcast of Super Bowl XLVIII. This made them the first small business to have an ad aired during a Super Bowl which was valued approx USD 4-million and was seen by a record 111.5 million viewers.

This news brought a definite increase in the sales of their next two GoldieBlox products – GoldieBlox and the Dunk Tank, GoldieBlox and the Parade Float.

GB Dunktank
GoldieBlox and the Dunk Tank

As pleasant that news was, it brought along with it another problem but this time it was a different one. This time there was a flaw in the design of the toys. They started getting angry reviews from customers who were frustrated about the fit of the blocks wherein some blocks were fitting well and some weren’t.

But the prepared Debbie, very smartly turned a problem into an opportunity and immediately redesigned the blocks, replaced every toy in its warehouse to include the modified design and sent them across to its customers which included a letter from Goldie explaining to kids how the blocks were redesigned from having a circular point of entry for axles to an octagonal shape.

Well, talking about the present, the recent invention of the company in a move to go digital is their iOS app which teaches the basics of animation by having kids create 12-frame animated GIFs through additive illustration. These creations can then be shared on Bloxtown.com, where kids can also explore educational tutorials, view others creations, etc!

The company now has various products, carried by more than 1,100 retailers in the U.S. and Canada. GoldieBlox has also expanded their reach to U.K., Australia, and South Africa as well. They also found a well-wisher in Maxine Clark – the founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop, who along with being their primary advisor has also invested an undisclosed amount in the company.

The major challenge that the company faced was keeping up with the demands of the markets and to cope with that GoldieBlox is already churning out new toy sets, including GoldieBlox and the Movie Machine, and a larger kit called GoldieBlox and The Builder’s Survival Kit.

GB Moviemachine
GoldieBlox and the MovieMachine

They also launched three new characters with Goldie including a boy character and more gender-neutral color palettes.

Goldie

GoldieBlox Girl-Powered Spinning Machine also joined the 88th Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in November, 2014, which had a whooping 50-million viewership from home and 3.5-million on the streets, giving a huge boost to this business.

They recently launched a new vibrant cartoon video series featuring all the characters with Goldie and “Lightning Strikes” as the new official song by Emily Haines of Metric. Debbie also launched GoldieBlox merchandise like kids apparels and a doll that is sure to take down Barbie’s market.

GoldieBlox Merchandise

All this fast pace developments of this startup is steering GoldieBlox past many market competitors and is establishing Goldie as the new best friend for millennial girls.

Have something to add to this amazing story? Share your views with us in the comments section, below.

Author:

YoChef puts the spotlight on emerging businesses and reputed personalities to help young entrepreneurs learn from their experiences. Watch out for posts published under YoChef to discover entrepreneurial journeys and life lessons.

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