Sean Fochtman, co-founder of last month’s Hatching winner Spray N’ Play, believes there is a better way to play with your Lego creations.
After taking home $1,000 at May’s Hatching competition, Spray N’ Play is ready to change the way kids and adults alike play with the classic toy.
The Problem Being Solved:
Sean, an academic advisor at the College of Engineering at MSU, and the team want to create a way to play with Lego creations that won’t be permanent. Once your Lego creations are complete, your options are currently limited. If you want to play with them, and don’t want them to fall apart, you need to superglue them. Which then sticks you with a permanent figure with no option to change it. Spray N’ Play is developing a spray that will hold the creation together in order to move it around or even play with it, then take it apart when you are done.
Worries and Opportunities:
Sean’s worries circle around the fact that they are developing a brand new concept and product, not just a variation on something old. “Explaining the benefits to customers is harder because we don’t have any competitors,” says Sean. But, he adds, “That’s also the exciting part.” The feedback they’ve received when introducing the product is encouraging. “Everybody gets excited,” says Sean, “Parents have said they’d buy it on the spot.”
Where the Idea Came From:
Sean was watching his nine-year-old son and a friend play with a Star Wars Lego battle scene. They had it all set up and wanted to move it around and play with it. Every time it moved a piece would fall off and they would have to fix it before resuming play. Watching them, Sean knew there needed to be a better solution.
Spray N’ Play’s Target Customer is two-fold. Obviously, he wants to sell to kids (and their parents) who want to actually play with the things they’ve put so much effort into creating.
There are also large groups of adults who build Lego displays as a hobby. They create elaborate displays that unless sealed together could be destroyed by a rogue cat or bump of a table, wasting hours of work.
Right now, their biggest challenge has been connecting with manufacturers who have the capability to produce the product. “Nobody knows who we are right now, so getting them to understand what we are doing and make them want to work with us is hard.”
They recently connected with a possible manufacturer, but Sean says that it’s definitely been a challenge.
The amount of effort its taken to get a phone call or email returned as a new company has been surprising. “It makes sense now, looking back, but it was a surprising thing to learn along the way.”
The Hatching was their first, fortunately successful, attempt to get funding. Seeking additional resources is definitely on their agenda.
In one year, Sean would love to see their product on shelves in Meijer, Target, Toys R Us, Hobby Lobby and more. But, beyond that, Sean says he would like to see the company blossom as a business rather than just a product. “There are so many different applications for the product,” says Sean and hopefully that’s where we are in five years, building a business.”
Sean urges young entrepreneurs to seek out help. When he had his idea, he didn’t know what to do with it. He put the word out and found others that could help him. The other members of his team have the experience needed to round out their abilities and skills.
“Talk to family, friends and people around you,” he says, “The people with the expertise you don’t have.”