Spielwarenmesse: Interview Teppino: how a classic playmat tells digital stories

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Movers & shakers

Interview Teppino: how a classic playmat tells digital stories

from Harald Hemmerlein

The toys-to-life trend is taking another area by storm. The Teppino playmat from dadda GmbH combines a classic toy and digital gaming. Children can play on the physical playmat, while at the same time scanning various buildings on it using the free Teppino app to access interesting, educational stories. The content from the app then flows back into the creative play on the mat. We spoke with David Völker, CEO of dadda gmbh and inventor of the innovative Teppino playmat.

Spielwarenmesse®: The toys-to-life trend has captured the imagination of consumers to such an extent that many analysts ascribe the significant sales gains in many toy markets to the success of this category. Do you share this opinion and are you jumping onto this bandwagon with Teppino?

David Völker: It is impressive how quickly toys-to-life toys have established themselves on the market. In the broadest sense, we are operating in a similar field with Teppino, but Teppino differs quite considerably from products such as Skylanders and Disney Infinity. In my opinion, toys to life basically involves enhancing the digital gaming experience through physical (analogue) collectibles. But the digital computer game is the main focus.

With Teppino, we are also combining a physical toy and digital gaming content - but our focus lies on the children’s physical play. We add digital content to classic toys through the Teppino app, thereby encouraging children to engage in creative role play. Our goal is to offer specific added value for children’s physical play experience with our app. We are turning the toys-to-life principle on its head, so to speak, and putting the “real” toy at the centre.

What was your inspiration behind this product idea?

D.V.: The world (including the toy world) is becoming increasingly digitised. The success of toys to life in particular demonstrates in my opinion the appeal the digital gaming experience holds for children. Lots of parents have reservations or even fears when it comes to their children’s digital consumption.

As a father of two daughters myself, I am very familiar with the dilemma many parents find themselves in. With Teppino, we wanted to offer a solution by designing digital gaming content that inspires children to play creatively with their “real” toy.

How did visitors to the Spielwarenmesse in Nuremberg respond?

D.V.: Our participation in Nuremberg was completely worth it. There was great interest among visitors, and also other exhibitors, some of whom really put our Teppino through its paces. They particularly liked that with our playmat we have managed to digitise a product that has been a really traditional element of children’s bedrooms for decades.

I was personally impressed with how much time many visitors and also manufacturers took for us. In the end, we returned home with an enormous amount of feedback. We will now use this to improve our product. There has been some movement since the trade fair too. At the moment, I am on the go almost every week, for example, meeting up with retailers and manufacturers.

Is it becoming clear which sales strategy might be a winner?

D.V.: As a young startup, we get to test all possible sales channels, which is exactly what we are doing at the moment. We have found our first retail partner - interestingly, both toy and furniture retailers are options for us. And, of course, as a digital company, we also have our own online shop - and are working together with other eCommerce partners. We could also imagine distributing the product via a major manufacturer and are already in exploratory talks regarding this.

I could see the app being used to bring other play worlds “to life”. Would I be right in thinking this?

D.V.: Apart from our ongoing enhancement of the app, our next step is to develop other playmat themed worlds. As you can imagine, there is a very long list of possible themed worlds: from farms, the equestrian world, knights and pirates through to a construction site mat. We are planning a whole lot more in the background but do not wish to reveal anything about this at the moment - you will have to wait until Nuremberg next year.

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