Past INPEX® Exhibitor Takes His "Crazy" Dream on the Road
Kurt Kirckof, inventor of the educational board game "Going-Going Crazy", will be hitting the road this June, from his home in Minnesota, to speak at INPEX, America's Largest Invention Trade Show. A former INPEX exhibitor, Kirckof will speak about what he's learned from his INPEX experience, what he wished he'd known in retrospect and how he made the most of his interaction among fellow inventors.
Kirckof's original experience at INPEX was actually twofold. Not only did he take home a first place award with him back in 2001, but he was also invited to attend the ERA's Invention Showcase that year, which is part of their national trade show in Las Vegas. It was there that he won the Best Short Form Product Award from the ERA.
Kirckof admits that he came to INPEX in 2001 with his prototype and not much else. It was during the show at the INPEX Inventor's University that he met Wendi Cooper, ERA's Invention Showcase co-founder and CEO of C Spot Run Productions, who told him about ERA's Invention Showcase, which was at that time called the New Product Program. It was through the ERA's Invention Showcase seminar at INPEX that Kirckof learned an important piece of information about his game.
Kirckof recalls Cooper telling him that his colors were all wrong and if he wanted it to work for children, he would have to change it and soften it. Kirckof was surprised by the information from Cooper, but went home from INPEX and made the necessary changes before he attended the ERA's Invention Showcase in Las Vegas.
After spending a few days at INPEX, Kirckof realized he had new information to try to get his idea started. "I had a positive experience at INPEX and also met a broker for a manufacturer there. That obviously helped me get my game produced in Asia, and I had my first shipment of product sent to me in December of 2001."
While there are many facets to Kirckof's story, it all began simply when he woke from a dream back in 1999. The brainchild for Going-Going Crazy had come to him in his sleep, and since that night he's been "working like crazy" to get his game from concept to the store shelves. "I woke up and could remember everything about the game, from colors to what the instruction book should look like. I like to think of it more as a vision than a dream," he said.
Fast forward about four years since that night, and you'll now find Going-Going Crazy being sold in 46 Wal-Marts around the United States and specialty stores in 17 states and Canada. It is also currently being sold at toysRus.com. To make it to this point, Kirckof had to find a way to market his product and he decided to take a less conventional approach. After buying airtime in practically every market in his home state of Minnesota that has a Wal-Mart, Kirckof went into each Wal-mart store four or five times before they finally agreed to sell his product. His persistence paid off. By 2002, eight stores were selling Going-Going Crazy and by the end of the year, it was the number-one rated board game in six of the stores.
Kirckof continues to travel the country to promote his game, and is looking forward to speaking to other inventors at INPEX who may be at the same stage he was back in 2001, when he came to the show with a "dream" and a prototype. "I'm a long way from where I want to be, but I'm learning everyday," he said. "I can't tell people enough that if you have a product, and you believe in it, and people you don't even know believe in it, it's worth it to go to trade shows like INPEX. Because of INPEX, I was able to gain insightful knowledge about my prototype color from Wendi Cooper, find a broker for a manufacturer and also get qualified to attend the ERA Show in Las Vegas. All in all, it taught me some in's and out's about inventing that I wouldn't have known on my own."