LOCATION: Great Neck
LAUNCHED: Spring 2013
FOUNDERS: Avi Cohen, Dean Gah
EMPLOYEES: 2 part-time
PRODUCT: Children’s puzzles
LAUNCH INVESTMENT: $5,928
FUNDING SOURCES: Kickstarter campaign, private donations
MAJOR CHALLENGES: Product exposure
PRODUCT STATUS: Ready for assembly
The average age of clients of Great Neck-based Vertex Product Development – a consulting firm for design, engineering and product development and Avi Cohen’s other company – is around 50 years old. With his new venture Infinipuzzle, which he cofounded with partner Dean Gah, Cohen gets to play with 6-year-olds.
Cohen spends most of his time brainstorming engineering and industrial-design solutions for tech-industry clients with deep pockets, and he’s therefore no stranger to innovative ideas. Creative thinking is certainly behind his new Kickstarter-funded startup, which offers an obscure take on a toy industry – the jigsaw puzzle.
Envision a puzzle with no smooth edges and no conventional point of reference to guide (or confine) the builder’s creativity. There are no rules in Cohen’s puzzle world; every Infinipuzzle can be assembled in unlimited ways.
“The idea is taking a regular, classic puzzle that we all know and are familiar with and designing it in such a way that you can have two people constructing the same puzzle and each one gets a different picture,” Cohen said. “Who says a puzzle can’t end on an angle?”
The outcome of each assembly depends completely on how a gamer starts the assembly process, he noted.
“There’s a never-ending composition,” Cohen added. “The image can completely change so that the whole message of the image can change; that’s really the ‘wow’ factor.”
Consider the Central Park Set Bundle, a package comprised of two 350-piece sets. It includes an illustration of the park in the daylight and one under a starry night sky; if the user starts the puzzle one way, he or she can develop an image showing an entire day scene spread on the left that transforms into a moonlit view of skyscrapers and a vibrantly lit park under the moonlight.
If started from another point, however, the puzzle can transgress from night to day and back into night, if the puzzle-builder wishes, all in Infinipuzzle’s artfully creative way.
Cohen said the concept is currently patent-pending and that he and Gah have met with big-brand manufacturers, whom they hope will invest in Infinipuzzle and ultimately push it into mass production. Infinipuzzle is currently available online at playboxus.com.
If its Kickstarter success is any indication, the product will find that mass-production home. Within 38 days of its February 2013 Kickstarter campaign launch, Infinipuzzle surpassed its original fundraising goal of $3,700 by 60 percent, collecting a total of $5,928. The campaign, Cohen noted, provided enough funding to produce the first 2,000 units, as well as shipping for those units and initial promotional expenses.
The secret to success, Cohen said, was conducting a soft launch of the product before it even went into production or even received a dime in Kickstarter funding. Cohen and Gah began sending email blasts to toy bloggers and other online forums wherever toy-relevant conversations were happening.
“We learned the most challenging thing was getting exposure,” Cohen said. “I think the reason that big companies did not take it into production is because people who typically put puzzles together are very conservative.
“Conservatism is what’s held them back, but it’s the manufacturers, not the users,” he added. “The users say it’s amazing.”