Salih and Joseph are partners in Entertoyment, which presented at our Inventor Conferences last year and are returning this year. They have a successful partnership even though they live in different countries – Spain and Turkey. Their partnership developed after playing tennis often. There seem to be many company leaders that play tennis, perhaps some of us should take up tennis again, but I digress. They share some interesting ideas.
Salih and Josep, you are partners at Entertoyment, yet reside in different countries. How do you make that work?
Both of us have been operating in the toy industry for more than 25 years and we have known each other for 10 years. I have been working as a CEO in a family company that has been in the business for 50 years in in Ankara, Turkey. Josep Pastor has worked in senior management positions in many international toy companies. For many years, we came together for toy fairs in various places such as Hong Kong, Nurnberg and London, and also for dinners held after work days. Moreover, since both of us have been playing tennis, this common hobby made our friendship deeper. Eventually, it came out that both of us had a common goal: producing unique and original toys. As a result, 3 years ago, we started to make our dream come true by establishing our company, Entertoyment.
Where did you grow up and how did that influence who you are today?
I grew up in Ankara, Turkey. In my childhood days, I helped my father in his store, after school and on holidays, except the times we were on a vacation with my whole family. It makes me realize that this is why I love toy business now. In the place I grew up, people had a thought that as a tradition, boys need to be in the business environment that they become familiar with the environment. I always saw the benefits of that, making me respect and love my job.
Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry and what made you decide to start Entertoyment?
Like most other industries, we think that in the future there will be no margin for the intermediaries; the retailer and consumer will come face to face. Our desire is to stay on top as this develops. In addition, while we have been doing this for 25 years, the toy business was becoming more and more monotonous. We want to deliver fascinating, exciting and unique toy ideas to the children all around the world.
What does your typical day look like?
I have to travel a lot for business. If I am home, I usually wake up at 6 am, play tennis for 4-5 days a week and be present in the office around 9.30-10 am. Since I am pretty busy during the day, I work until 6-7 pm. In the evenings, I try to spend some quality time with my family.
What musical instruments and music do you play?
Even though I wanted a lot, I cannot play any musical instruments. That is why I wanted my children to learn to play music. My older son, who is in college now, had piano lessons for years. Even though he was really good at it, he stopped playing and now he doesn't even touch the piano in our house. From time to time, like writing on a typewriter, I am trying to play piano with my 2 fingers, by myself. However, when it comes to listening to music, I am a big fan of Sting.
What is the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
Since I am a pretty cautious person, I actually cannot remember any terrible jobs I have ever had. But, from my personal experience, I am very well aware of one thing: if I see something which is being sold for less than its actual value, it will tend to bring me more harm than benefit.
What inspires you?
I always come up with a creative idea in the conversations I have with my friends. Also, I hate that I sometimes come up with an amazing idea in the bed, since it makes me awake for the whole night, trying to develop the idea.
What do you read every day, and why?
Since I live in Turkey, a country that always has a really busy agenda; I start the day by reading newspapers. Also, during the day, I follow updates from the Internet. I have so many books in the office that are related to tennis that when I want to take a break, I skim through them. This sometimes keeps me away from the work even for 2 hours that helps me to take a breather. At home in the evening, I read adventure books. I am a huge fan of Jean Christophe Grange, I read all his books.
What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?
The big trio: my iPhone, my iPad and my laptop! I use my laptop in the office. When I'm away for meetings, I use my iPad. Nearly all the time, I use my iPhone. I also would like to thank Josep here, who introduced me with the app Evernote, which links this trio together.
What trends do you see in toys or games?
These days, the main complaint of the parents is that since children are busy with computers, mobile phones etc. They have pretty low amounts of mobility during the day, which is not healthy for a child in that or any age. So, they should prefer toys that make their children move around more, during the day. However, it means a lot more to identify what a child may actually like or want since they have different perspectives than us. Sometimes, children may not like the products that have been liked by dozens of professionals in the industry, or vice versa.
What advice can you give inventors presenting ideas to you?
Being newbies, the only advice from us to the inventors is they should share their biggest ideas with us also, not only with the big firms in the market. Actually, rather than advice, this is really our desire.
I think I get it pretty straight that they want to make the most of an idea which they think is their best project that they want to take it to the biggest firms, which may be able to do more with their ideas. However, many of these ideas may be lost in big firms.
What was your favorite toy or game as a child?
I used to own a trains set produced by metal can. However, I was allowed to play with that set for a short period of time; my mom carefully stored it since it was really valuable that stayed solid for a long period of time. Even today, I can remember the color, the extensions of its railroad tracks and the place it was kept in our cupboard. Thinking about how fast we consume these days, it makes me realize how valuable that train set was for me.