Wednesday to Sunday!
31 Jan – 4 Feb 2018
Actually, it was anything but lazy that Sunday three years ago at the home of founder Patric Faßbender. The CD with his two daughters’ favourite audio play had gotten scratched again. The little audio play enthusiasts were fed up and their father was also sick to the teeth of trying to fix these technical issues. He went searching for a child-friendly, digital audio player robust enough to withstand the hustle and bustle of children’s bedrooms. When he could not find what he was looking for, the Düsseldorf native designed the product himself. He convinced Marcus Stahl, who he knew from his work on the parents' council of his children’s kindergarten, and together they founded Boxine GmbH.
The idea is as simple as it is ingenious: the player had to be intuitive enough for the very young to use, look good and be fun. The result was the Toniebox, a rounded cube with ears which can play audio plays. The little play figures, the Tonies, function as the data carriers. Simply place them on the cube and the listening pleasure can begin. To take a break, remove the figure again. The cube can be switched on and off and the volume regulated by lightly pressing on the ears of the Toniebox. Give the cube a little pat and it jumps forward a chapter. Child’s play. Even the major book and audio book publishers have been bowled over, with Benjamin the Elephant, Connie, the Olchies and the Slurb, among others, on board from the outset.
But a whole lot of work was still needed before the Tonies could be presented. The two fathers researched, tested and tinkered away. Fabric had to be selected, samples sewn and licenses bought. They turned to their networks for many of the detailed questions and found partners for the start-up. The Boxine GmbH team grew quickly. And everyone agreed: “The Spielwarenmesse is THE industry event and if there is going to be a global première, then it has to be there.”
When it became clear that the Tonies should launch in 2016, the planning for the trade fair began. The young company prepared thoroughly and used every opportunity to present its innovation in the best possible light. Among other things, they submitted the Toniebox for the ToyAward, booked a presentation space for the PressPreview on the eve of the Spielwarenmesse and signed up for press boxes in the press centre and online.
This combination ensured a real stampede to their stand at the trade fair, even though the product “only” ended up as a ToyAward nominee: “Of course we were a bit disappointed at the beginning, but we quickly realised that even a nomination was a major success and it brought lots of visitors to our stand. Many found out about us through the presentation in the TrendGallery or the ToyAward reporting”, said Sarah Miranda, Social Media Manager with Boxine.
In parallel to this, the product was heavily promoted on social media, and fans could experience the “adventure” trade fair live on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the like. Such major visibility led to lots of media requests, which meant that even people outside of the industry soon began talking about the Tonies. All involved could feel how enthusiastic the retailers and journalists were being: “This was our reward for our work to date, and it also spurred us on a great deal, of course", remembered Miranda. “After just our first trade fair, we also found out how the real work only begins when the doors close. We made lots of new contacts and this has opened up new opportunities again.”
Another highlight then followed straight away in March: the Tonies were honoured with the “Red Dot Award: Best of the Best” for superb design, thereby making it into the top 1.5% of more than 5,000 submitted products. In spite of all of the hype, the now not-so-small start-up is mainly focused on ensuring that everything goes well with the retail launch. At Boxine, they are not just relying on joint decision-making for this, but also involving customers in the final improvements. How exactly? That is still a little secret. Anyone wishing to stay up to date should turn to the company blog: tonies.de/blog. Exciting times.