Follow-Up Story: How a Build & Imagine Turned $500 into $600,000
For those of you who are new to our community Laurie Peterson was our grant recipient from July 2013. She was the founder of Build & Imagine, a constructible StoryWall toy company for girls.
Laurie recently reached out to us and told us about her accomplishments since receiving our Amber Grant. We were so delighted to hear about her recent success and thought it would make a great follow-up story with the community.
WN: How are things since you received July’s Amber Grant in 2013?
LP: It’s been a very busy year getting my new toy company Build & Imagine off the ground. The grant funded my first prototype and a video for a successful kickstarter campaign where I raised $30,000 to fund product design. I used the Kickstarter success and retailer interest to attract an additional $600,000 in angel investments. Meanwhile, I buttoned up the product design and worked with my university’s alumni office to find an advisor who connected me with an excellent toy manufacturer in China. Our product is now available for pre-order on buildandimagine.com and will be arriving in our warehouse next week!
WN: What makes your product unique?
LP: Build & Imagine StoryWalls are magnetic building sets that inspire storytelling. Unlike most magnetic building toys that are composed of abstract geometric shapes, Build & Imagine play-sets contain illustrated scenes that children can build, decorate, and use as a backdrop for imaginative play with the included dolls. We call them StoryWalls, because it’s like building a storybook setting in 3-D and then jumping in to play!
Our leading adventurous female characters and rich narrative details help to attract girls to our building sets. Historically, construction toys like these have catered to boys. Girls have been missing out because building toys develop important skills such as spatial reasoning, design, and problem solving. These are skills that are essential for overcoming the gender innovation gap. We believe our toys can make a difference.
WN: Congratulations on being Dr. Toy’s best new play product she has seen. Did you have to make any changes to Build and Imagine to get noticed by her, or was it constant perseverance?
LP: Early on I connected with Dr. Toy on LinkedIn, where I post occasional updated about the business. After she saw me post a fundraising article I wrote for Fast Company she reached out and requested a meeting. Our building sets appealed to her in that they engage early STEM skills (science, technology, engineering, and math) while they develop language. It was the combination of building plus storytelling that she loved.
WN: As a former Amber Grant winner, do you have any advice for the new applicants?
LP: Applying for the Amber Grant was the first thing I did to “put myself out there”. My advice is to go for it! The Amber Grant provided me with a little bit of cash and a lot more confidence to move forward.
WN: When will we officially be able to purchase your product?
LP: Right now! We are taking pre-orders on buildandimagine.com and ship in a few weeks. Our buildings sets are recommended for kids ages 4-8. Thanks so much!
Again, big congratulations to Laurie! We knew Build & Imagine was bound to be a success!
Imagine what you could do with the monthly $500 Qualifying Grant? Or with our new $2,000 Amber Grant? The deadline for our next Qualification grant is coming up soon, (November 30th.) Get your applications in before you get too caught up with family, friends and celebrations! ‘Tis the season!