FROM THE TRENCHES
In 1992 twentysomething New York City commercial real estate exec Karen Fried invented a rhyming word game called Think-It Link-It, which during its first holiday season became FAO Schwarz's number-one-selling game. She is now preparing to bring out a new game called Visionary -- but there are some steps she will not repeat.
"Starting the first game was like going to business school for me. I learned all about manufacturing, distribution, sales. I took so many wrong turns, like spending $20,000 on 1,000 prototypes. I went through $1,000 designing nine different packaging options. I navely spent an hour explaining exactly how I brought my game to market to a supposed Harvard Business School student who expressed interest in being my intern and writing a marketing plan for me. Two months later there he was at the Toy Show with a similar game. People ask, 'How have you been burned?' The biggest, most glaring lesson I've learned is to be very careful about whom you talk to about how you build your company." -- Alessandra Bianchi