a 1992 Elon communications graduate, has turned a lifelong hobby
creating board games into a potential multimillion-dollar business.
Last year, he launched Funskills, Inc., an educational board game
and puzzle company based in Winston-Salem, N.C.
produced two games: Math Whiz Tray Puzzle and Lollipop Kidz. They
have received rave reviews from children and parents. The games
were unveiled at the 2002 International Toy Fair in New York, and
caught the attention of major toy retailers, including Toys R Us,
which is expected to begin selling the games on its Web site this
both games have broad appeal, and make learning fun. For instance,
Math Whiz features animal pieces that youngsters manipulate to solve
equations and practice addition and subtraction. The pieces also
have animal facts on the back.
a fun way to bring the subject to the kids," Harlow says. With
Funskills, Harlow has combined his knowledge of board games with
his background in marketing and corporate communications to tap
into the booming educational toy market. "It's the next billion-dollar
market in the toy industry," he says.
of board games has always fascinated Harlow. He started building
prototypes of games when he was 6, including one based on World
War II and a trivia game. "I liked to see how people reacted to
the games I created," he says. "I'm a really creative person, and
I enjoy that aspect of it."
he gets ideas by "looking at how people create their games
and seeing what the flaws are and how to improve."
is the second company Harlow has launched. After graduating with
a communications degree, he started an advertising company, Look
Marketing Design, and counted Coldwell Banker, DC Power and Shallowford
Farms Popcorn among his North Carolina clients.
was pleased with the venture, Harlow longed to market his own products
and created Funskills. Both companies are based in Winston-Salem.
"I got out of advertising because I noticed I was getting a lot
of my clients rich," he says. "I'm more of an entrepreneur than
Harlow is excited
by the early success of Funskills, which he says has 35 games on
the drawing board. He expects the company to grow substantially
over the next several years.
not going to be as big as Mattel or Hasbro," he says. "But for the
educational market, we'll be a major player."
by Brian Grady, Elon class of 2006)