From the July 2000 issue of Entrepreneur

Calling all toy inventors: On September 11, Haystack Toys will start its second annual Great American Toy Hunt. St. Louis, Missouri-based Haystack Toys Inc. will be hitting Dallas, Denver, Miami, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle and St. Louis in search of the next big idea.

Up to 10 winners will receive a 5 percent royalty, $5,000 advance and a commitment to spend $50,000 to help develop the idea. Competition will be fierce: Dan Lauer, toy inventor and Haystack Toys' founder, expects 12,000 entries. But here's a tip: Lauer isn't looking for board or video games; he's on the hunt for large, tactile toys that encourage imaginative play. One of last year's winners was the CuddleFish, a stuffed toy invented by Frank Young and Liz Farley of Mound, Minnesota, that makes underwater noises.

Think you're up to the challenge? For complete competition details, log on to www.haystacktoys.com.



Don Debelak is a new-business marketing consultant and the author of Bringing Your Product to Market (John Wiley & Sons). Send him your invention questions at dondebelak@uswest.net.