Colorwheel Toys

Phone call with Byrne Reese of Toy Talk

Posted on: January 30, 2012


  • ENVIRONMENT: Lab vs Home is a huge difference
  • DATA DRIVEN OBSERVATIONS: Byrne creates graphs of measurements he observes instead of just subjective observations
  • IRRATIONAL: Kids cannot and will not explain why they like/dislike something
  • QUESTION-BASED TESTING: We must have 2-3 specific Hypothesis to answer every session
  • REDUNDANT TESTING: Do not conclude with 1-2 data points especially with KIDS
  • TIMING IS CRUCIAL: Kids can be tired after a long day at school , or full of playful energy on a Sunday
  • NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE: Purchasing vs Subscription isn’t necessarily either-or

How do we deal with us playing vs alone time with product?

His methodologies
Where we are with our company and what we’re doing
– We devised an approximation of our final product to present to the kids
– Our product is months and months away before we can put it in front of the kid
– a lot of content still to be generated
– our mvp is a fancy rig that bounds two ipads back to back
ipad on the back is running skype – human is improvising and performing and interacting with the child
ipad on the front is approximation of our final interface
– the cost of producing the content for the ipad would be expensive, the product life cycle would be too long
– the timing wouldn’t work

– tests have to be backed by well understood goals
– can we produce a product to interact with children
– what are the target age ranges
→ might see that 3 yr olds are too young
→ next time go for 5 year olds, more successful

  1. understand who is our customer
  2. what characters content resonate with kids
  3. do kids enjoy games, talking, songs – what are the types of activities that children enjoy
  4. how long can we engage with them

Secondary to that, we have parents in the room/builidng
– parents watching from the side
→ ask them after what they thought of the experience
– would they buy it
– ask the parent to talk to the child after the experience on the way home – try to glean what you can from the kid

we have found that after 30 min of play trying to get a meaningful quantitative analysis of the play
kids don’t analyze their fun

“child doesn’t think about play the way adults do”
you know if it’s fun or not just by watching
if after 5 minutes, if the kid turns to the mom and says i’m done – take this as an opportunity to find out how to reengage them

another kid engaged for 18 minutes (a long time)
– only said 5 or 6 words
– after 18 minutes, the kid stood up and said “I’m done”

“when the child is done, they’re done”
creating graphs of what the child was doing

– how many times do they look away from the camera
– how many times do they walk away from the camera
– how often do they talk
– how many times do they smile
– how many times do they laugh out loud

→ all of these are metrics
a transcript is not enough, we need video

A lot of questions that need answers:
How many dialogs do we need to produce in order to get 30 min of playtime with the child
– dialogs we have to record, person we have to recruit, person to make video, editor to chop up video – all of these have costs
How many new minutes of material do we need to sustain in order to maintain this amount of growth
Cost of goods
Correlate what type of content more resonates with kids
– Is the kid more likely to engage when there is a song or it is telling a joke?
– revolves around making a kid laugh
“if you can capture that child laughing their ass off and give that to their parents, that’s priceless”

“no one experience with a child is enough to make conclusions”
“you’ll have to replay that experience with many children and look for patterns”

“Kids, especially young kids, can be tough because they’re not rational beings”

Children at 4:00 in the afternoon are tired, emotionally exhausted, are probably hungry – they’re a wreck
Child in foreign environment
He was getting sick
– He wasn’t the ideal testing scenario, but at the same time that can be sort of typical

You have to do this over and over again, even with the same child. Have to be aware of the environment that you are testing in.

“Kids are irrational, they don’t make any sense”
To ameliorate that, I try to make the experience as fun as I possibly can
– provide snacks
– allow them to become comfortable, let them warm up
– I set out play doh, markers
There is a lot of information you lose, when you perform your tests in a lab

“A child in their home environment is substantially different than in a lab environment”

“if you have the opportunity to go to a child’s home, you have very different results”

– lab has the basis of creating a normalized environment (eg tv on at home – fine in some homes, not in others)

You have to approach every test with a child with a hypothesis, limit the number of questions you’re trying to answer in a single experiment

“A child playing when they’re tired and a child playing when they’re refreshed is a totally different story”

Suggestions for us in our testing:

If you have the opportunity to play with the same kid again:
– play with them together
– then play with them independently
→ see how their behavior changes

especially if you’re friends with a family, see how they grow with the product

To test retention: at the end of the session, give them the opportunity to keep playing with our toy or play with another toy

To help test retention:
(first session)
Have them play first with a completely different product (paper, crayons)
Have them play with our product

(followup session)
The next time you see them, give them the choice between your toy and an analog toy (don’t introduce analogs at first session)

In our next sessions,

We need to give them like 5 choices of products instead of giving them 1 product then the next, then the next..

We also need to be not so suggestive and involved too much, let the kids more be independent

“I get myself out of the room as quickly as I can”
We cant really do that in our sessions?
– how can we find the closest approximation of that?
– tell them we need to go to the bathroom and leave a camera running for 5 minutes
“Child has a natural inclination to try to please the person watching them”

Leave older sibling to play with toy alone and entertain younger one then after some time, see if younger kid wants to go play with the older one.

“See if you can play with the kid in a room other than their playroom – that could be a way to create a neutral environment”

Indirect questions (perhaps he’s doing this to judge a child’s IQ, or figure out other miscellaneous things)
How can we give them extra feedback instead of just analog toys
Sit them down in front of an ipad
– Do you know what this is?
– Do you know how to turn it on (ex: ipad)

– let’s us know how familiar they are with it

– Show them icons of other games
– what games they’re familiar with
– how many they’re familiar with
– give insights into them and their parents

I give the parents a parting gift as a thank you
– gift certificate to a child’s museum, ferris wheel
– establishes who we want to be as a company
– give them a chance to do something with their child (i.e. not an itunes gift card)

“I don’t think one time purchases and subscriptions are mutually exclusive”
– cheaper! and convenient
“There’s inherent value in the physical object, regardless of how successful the product is”

EXAMPLE of a product that is focused on solving ONE Pain Point:
Keep my kids entertained and engaged while my family and I are traveling
Byrne’s neighbor is an entrepreneur selling a kit that is TSA friendly, etc
– packages vary depending on how long the flight is

We need to look for Science Magazines, or Education Magazines, or Parent magazines that we can partner with?
“When my kids get something in the mail, that’s something that’s really special”
If you could partner with a magazine, especially if there’s a science or reading component

“What parents are constantly plagued with is keeping their child entertained”


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