Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Startup Club: Retoy

We speak to CEO Josh Shabtai about the new toy company that aims to mix mobile games with real-life imagination

By: Caitlin Marceau

Published: June 12th, 2014 in Business » World

Over the past few decades, a growing number of small businesses involved in various industries have popped up around the world meeting the needs of an ever-growing, ever-changing market.

Jewish businessmen and innovators continue to excel throughout these industries, displaying their prowess as creative, forward-thinking entrepreneurs, and tapping into continuously developing markets with ‘startup’ companies.

In a bid to recognize these decorated entrepreneurs for their ongoing contributions and advancements to these fields, Shalom Life is pleased to present: Startup Club, highlighting the best and the brightest of Jewish entrepreneurs who continue to provide our community with new, influential and innovative ideas that will forever change the way we interact with the world, and with one another.

Follow our lead and we’ll follow yours – send us tips or suggestions via email, comment below or tweet us @ShalomLife, in our mission to celebrate the most visionary of Jewish entrepreneurs.

Check out last week’s inductee into the Club here.

Business: Retoy

Base of Operations: New York

Entrepreneur: Josh Shabtai & Edo Segal

Industry: Toys/Technology

Founded: 2012

Ever play games on your phone and wish what you saw in the game was something you could own in real life? Well thanks to Retoy, that’s soon to be a possibility.

The New York based company, founded by Josh Shabtai and Edo Segal roughly two years ago, is geared towards creating toys in an on-demand way that you can purchase in app while playing games from your mobile device, be it a phone or a tablet. They were even named on Time Inc.’s Ten Startups to Watch for 2014.

However, the tech-savvy duo had begun working with each other way back in 2009. “Edo is a pretty amazing guy who founded a new kind of company, they call it an invention studio, called bMuse. And bMuse was basically set to create all kinds of new companies, new technologies and new platforms that would sort of change the way media, in various ways, is produced and distributed, and things like that,” Shabtai explains to me in an exclusive interview. “So I got involved with him and helped him build one of the initial subsidiaries for bMuse which was a video game studio.”

The studio which Segal and Shabtai would develop would be Liminal, which, in conjunction with THQ and Lucasfilm, would go on to produce one of the most successful mobile Star Wars game ever.


Physical Toys with Digital Capabilities

“We ended up taking on new types of game projects, and again it was always about deep immersion and things, and we started working with Hasbro on connected toy-gaming experiences where your iPhone or Android device would connect to a physical toy,” he explains. During this time, Shabtai and Segal helped Hasbro to develop physical toys with digital capabilities, including a version of laser tag that, when connected to your mobile device, would give you a heads-up display and allow you and 23 friends to play a real life version of a first-person shooter video game. “The inspiration for Retoy and this product of ours, which is called Telepods, feels like it came almost overnight after having worked with them for a couple years,” he says.

During their time working in tandem with Hasbro, toys like Disney Infinity and Activision’s Skylanders began coming out on the market. These toys could be imported into video games so long as you had all the necessary equipment and systems to do it. For example, the Disney Infinity series requires you to have a console system, or a computer equipped for gaming, and a specialized platform that the figurines hook up to in order to be imported into the game.

For Shabtai and Segal, they wanted to make these digitally immersive toys more affordable and accessible.

Continue Reading on Page 2

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