Toys By Teens Plays it Forward

You own your own business because you know that it’s more than just making a profit — it’s about using your talents to make a difference. You work hard to find the best products for your customers because it’s more than just the bottom line — it’s about long-term relationships and service. Which is why it’s important to not only partner with companies that have great products, but also promote better living. Toys By Teens is a company that’s giving high school students a window on the realities of business, but with a helping hand.

Pat Chmiel, co-founder of the Teen Entrepreneur Boot Camp (Toys By Teens LLC is part of this non-profit), has a vision for creating strong business leaders for a new generation. The TEBC focuses on building entrepreneurial skills. What began as a two-week summer course on business evolved into a creative approach to partnership between the TEBC and Stuyvesant High School in New York City.

“Most high schools were hesitant to take on an unknown and unproven program,” notes Chmiel. But this hesitation wasn’t really warranted: The TEBC has been managing business skills courses for schools in Lower Manhattan since 2008, with satisfying results. But it’s not just that Stuyvesant students were fortunate because their school decided to take a chance. The time-tested principles elucidated in the courses run by the non-profit were further augmented by access to a thoughtfully developed product created by a man familiar with business, Dr. Howard Wexler.

Wexler is best known for his popular Connect-4 game and he brought his experience to the table in the form of a marketable product. The product, Correct Me If I’m Wrong™, is a nod to today’s ever-increasing focus on making learning fun and enticing. Developed for children 5 and up, the dry-erase book is a collection of novel puzzles. Kids can go through the crosswords, word searches and other challenges at their own pace. Solutions can be found via “Flip ‘N Check”, a sheet with the solution that can be dropped over the main puzzle page, allowing a child to independently monitor progress through the book.

Stuyvesant students were able to launch the product at the International Toy Fair at the Javits Center, garnering global attention and the notice of industry leader Walmart. With so much interest in the product, it’s easy to see that the future of Toys By Teens will be fruitful. An added bonus to helping teens learn about business now is that they also get to pay it forward. “All profits made from the sales of the games go back into the non-profit that runs the program,” explains Chmiel. This helps to ensure that the program garners a larger reach.

Interested in picking up the Correct Me If I’m Wrong book or supporting TEBC’s mission? Chmiel is always looking for great partners who take an interest in the future: “We are looking for corporate funding and pro bono professional services to help get this toy company off the ground.”

Partnering with the future is not just philanthropic, it’s good business: