In 2015, Jordan Goddard decided he wanted to create a special gift for the birthday of a team member who loved two pastimes: board games and prepping for the end of the world. So, Goddard enlisted his wife Mandy to help create a game. They ended up putting the game on Kickstarter. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Westfield residents, the Goddards had so much fun creating the game, they decided to create another. They then spent the next several years saving money so Goddard could start his own game company.
With a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State in finance and economics, Goddard taught himself computer-aided digital sculpting and modeling. He would wake up at 4 a.m. to get in as much work as he could before he went to his actual job.
In January 2020, Goddard quit his job, becoming a full-time toy inventor with his company Indy Toy Lab.
Goddard chose the name Indy Toy Lab to ensure that he would design toys and not just stick to games. Although most of his contacts were in games, toys are more lucrative by a large margin, and Goddard recognized that’s what would drive revenue.
The COVID-19 Pandemic hit a couple of months after Goddard went full time. No longer could toy inventors visit publishers and companies to promote products. However, what could have been a curse, and was for many larger toy firms, became a blessing for Indy Toy Lab.
Because the company wasn’t yet established in the business, Goddard pivoted quickly to “video sizzles.” These “commercials,” often starring Mandy and their two young kids, introduced new products to the powers that be.
Fast forward not quite three years, and Hasbro named Goddard Innovator of the Year for 2023. Not only that, but he was also named in the Mojo Nation 100 Independent Creatives. Not to be outdone, Mandy just won the Women Innovators of Play Challenge from Hasbro for a game she and their daughter created. And the honors don’t include all the national and international awards for which Jordan, the company and its creatives have been finalists.
Although Goddard is the primary inventor, Mandy often lends her skills as a project manager, helping with planning, finance, inventor relations and writing rules to many of their games.
“We wouldn’t start anything without me,” Goddard said, “but we wouldn’t finish anything without her.”
In fact, Mandy was the one who grew up playing games. Goddard credits Mandy’s brother, Todd Keller, with introducing him to the “modern board game.”
Although Mandy works full time as a program manager for Salesforce, company employees include Sales Representative Catherine McMillen, Digital Sculptor Danny Nordowl, Electrical Engineer Kelly Moham, intern Micah Keller and Art Director Dustin Faust, a former Disney animator.
With Goddard’s Westfield garage still housing the company’s workshop, Goddard said they are looking for a building to expand.
Fall is generally one of the busiest times of year for toymakers. In October, Indy Toy Lab had around 20 open projects and was finishing up around five for Christmas — 2024 or 2025. Three of those five projects will be on the market within the next two years with companies like Hasbro, Play-Doh and Disney theme parks.
“My kids see that we fix toys a lot,” Goddard said. “That’s the lesson I hope my kids take from our work. We don’t ever call anything broken. It’s more fun to fix it. You’ll appreciate it more.”
Indy Toy Lab has around 20 products in the market, including Mr. Potato Head Tater Tots, Hungry Hungry Hippos Launchers and other products with companies like Mattel, National Geographic and Melissa & Doug. Some of the company’s award-winning games include Pawvacados and Lotus.
Goddard said toys sometimes take a year to develop, two years to get to market and three years to get paid. Even then, he said, there is a one percent placement rate in the industry. That means for every 100 products Indy Toy Lab designs and pitches, only one will make it to market.
“You really have to love the craft,” he said. “You can’t love the payoff. You have to love the work you do every day. You have to love waking up and making things.”
For more, visit IndyToyLab.com.
Game recommendations from Jordan Goddard with Indy Toy Lab
InnyBin from Fat Brain Toys, sensory shape learning toy, for ages 6-months and older, under $30
Spinning Gear Puzzles from Melissa & Doug, wooden puzzles with spinning gears, for ages 3 and older, under $20
Pop It! Pro from Buffalo Games, light-up pattern popping game, for ages 5 and older, under $20
Pawvacados from Blue Orange — collecting and matching card and dice game, for ages 4 and older, under $15
800-Pound Gorilla from Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza fun family card game, for ages 8 and older, under $15
The Night Hunter from University Games, a cooperative murder mystery game, for ages 14 and older, under $25
Super Mario Bros. Wonder for Nintendo Switch — the next side-scrolling Mario adventure, E for everyone, under $60