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Toy of the Year creator addresses Bond Students

The mastermind behind the 2005 US Toy of the Year, Mary Toniolo, inspired Bond University students when she presented to a class of budding entrepreneurs on November 14.

Ms Toniolo knows a thing or two about being an entrepreneur when as a stay-at-home mum she successfully cracked the US toy market in 2004 with her Bella Dancerella product.

The idea came from a desire to help her daughter enjoy ballet, a pleasure she has been able to spread to thousands of households throughout the world.

“I always like having fun and my daughter and I would dance in the living room together. I came up with a concept to help her learn ballet steps and Bella Dancerella was born from there,” said Ms Toniolo.

“I had a passion and saw a gap in the market and decided to go for it as I had nothing to lose. I was the company, and had to do everything, from research, to marketing to distribution to get the product off the ground.

“That was a number of years ago and the product has now been sold in approximately 50 countries around the world and won the US Toy of the Year in 2005.”

The product, which has developed into a line of products, is basically a home dance studio kit which includes an instructional mat and DVD. Ms Toniolo’s daughter and son were also very much involved in the process, and are both currently honing their own entrepreneurship skills at Bond University.

Professor of Entrepreneurship, Dr Justin Craig said it was important to showcase excellence in innovation to the students, and prove how a simple idea could grow to be a world-wide phenomenon.

“Our entrepreneurship class is all about the process of ‘creating something from nothing’ and aims to help students develop and apply an entrepreneurial way of thinking, that will allow them to create and identify business opportunities in the future,” explains Dr Craig.

“Our classroom teaching is enriched by connecting our students to real-life entrepreneurs like Mary.”

Entrepreneurship is a key area of focus for the School of Business and is taught in a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate subjects at Bond University.

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