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Wiz Kids

Was there magic in their sales pitch?

What do you get when you combine green ink, a pair of glasses, a broom and two kids? The coveted licensing rights to Harry Potter.

That's how San Francisco game producer University Games did it. Co-founder Bob Moog and former president Jeff Pinsker (who's no longer with the company) used creativity, innovation and their knowledge of Harry Potter to win the rights. They sent green-inked letters that they doubled daily, the way it's done in the book. And their costumed kids began the presentation to Warner licensing execs as story characters, conversing with each other about who would best produce board games about them, at which point Moog and Pinsker joined them in the room. "We couldn't let [the Warner people] think we were going to approach this like any other company," says Moog. "If we did things [that way], we'd never win.

Warner didn't expect two kids to show up at University Games' presentation. And they certainly didn't expect Harry Potter himself (Pinsker's son Joe) to complain that "these Muggles think they can put games out about us."

Moog says there are two ways to do business: "One is to look at the leaders and try to emulate them. The other is to say, 'They got where they are by doing better than anybody else; so, if I'm going to compete, I have to change the rules so I can be an alternative.' "


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This article was originally published in the June 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Wiz Kids.

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