Toy Venture Hatched in the Darden Business Incubator Launches New Interactive Experience for Kids

26 April 2012

The biggest blockbuster toy since Tickle Me Elmo could be on the horizon. Its inventor, Thomas Giedgowd — a Second Year student at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business — believes that TeeGee has what it takes to make it on every child’s wish list. With help from the Darden Business Incubator, he debuted TeeGee at the 2012 American International Toy Fair, which took place in New York City earlier this year.

“One of the press outlets said we had the potential to be the next Tickle Me Elmo. I would love to see that happen,” says Giedgowd. “That toy was very successful, and I agree that TeeGee has the potential.”

TeeGee, a stuffed toy that interacts with children through educational games and storytelling, has staying power. According to Giedgowd, TeeGee’s interactive programs transform as a child grows. A parent can simply download a new application to match their child’s expanded intelligence and curiosity.

“The way that we have created age-graded apps and smart accessories to create a new type of interactive toy makes me think that it could be something big!” Giedgowd exclaims.

TeeGee’s apps work with the iPhone or iPod and its suggested retail price is $49.99. Shipments to major toy retailers are planned for the end of the year.

In addition to the incubator, which provides Darden students with seed money, workshops and resources to navigate legal proceedings, find investors and market their products, Giedgowd found help through Darden’s alumni network.

“I spoke with several Darden alumni during the summer when I was developing the concept. I received advice about price points and marketing strategies. At Toy Fair, I met with a Darden alumnus who is a toy company marketing director,” Giedgowd says.

The advice paid off.

Toy makers eager to collaborate were also among the throngs of people Giedgowd met at the event.

“There was one company that made a toy similar to ours. The president of the company came up to us and said that he would have viewed us as a major competitor a few years ago, but now thinks that there are avenues where he could work with someone like me going forward,” Giedgowd explains. “We were also approached about partnership opportunities by a major manufacturer and a major retailer/ manufacturer.”

According to Giedgowd, many toy inventors return to Toy Fair to find inspiration and get ideas. Feeling good about his ability to continue innovating new items for kids, he too may visit Toy Fair again.

“I would love to keep working in this space after TeeGee,” he says.

For questions or information about TeeGee, write to or call +1-610-304-7051.

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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Darden School of Business
University of Virginia