Matt Nuccio, Toy Designer, Talks About Being Authentic In Your Career and Embracing Your Identity, Episode 44

Matt Nuccio is the President of Design Edge, Inc., a toy and game development company, and a licensing agency whose clients include Mattel, Hasbro, Spin Master, and Fisher-Price to name only a few.  This week he joins me to discuss the evolution of his career within the toy industry.

Our conversation includes a discussion about how to be authentic within your chosen industry and harness the value you bring to the table. For Matt, he is both a business owner and an idea guy.  He brings amazing toy ideas to life and commercializes them on behalf of huge organizations. So, as you listen, think about how you might want to get credit for your knowledge.

We also talked about this notion of competing with the big guys versus staying true to yourself and embracing your identity. And finally, Matt talked about how every idea should be a solution to a problem that someone is looking to be fixed.

For 4 years, Matt co-chaired the Toy Association (TA), on their associate panel, representing all designers and inventors within the toy industry. Currently, Matt sits on the board of directors of the United Inventors Association of America (UIA), a non-profit organization working to educate and advocate for all types of inventors. He also sits on the Chicago Toy and Game Fair (ChiTAG) advisory board and Toy Association’s Creative Factor advisory board helping start-up inventors to navigate successfully within the Toy Industry.

Matt writes a column in Toy Family Entertainment magazine focusing on the industry. He has also lectured at ChiTAG, New York Toy Fair, ASTRA, Hong Kong Toy Fair, and various inventor clubs around the world including the 2019 Emerging Innovation Summit in Melbourne Australia. Design Edge’s products have been nominated for, and have also won, many industry awards such as TOTY (Toy Of The Year), TAGIE (Toy and Games Innovators), Games 100, Origin, and Family Fun among others. In 2019, Matt was honored by the National Security Agency (NSA) as an American Innovator and was recently listed for the second year in a row, by Mojo Nation, as one of the top 100 most influential people in the toy industry today.


  • The design-conscious is about not being fully satisfied with your work. (7:40)
  • The beginning of Design Edge Inc., a toy business family. (8:30)
  • The value of knowing about mechanical techniques even for designers who use modern design software. (10:17)
  • Why is experiencing the evolution of the toy industry (or any other industry) is of value to clients or employers – or the evolution of the toy industry – from toy businessmen. (11:24)
  • Santa Claus the movie from 1985 was based on the old school toy industry. (15:00)
  • Designers vs. sales; and why designers hold their keep. (19:13)
  • Is art school a waste of time? (20:00)
  • Leveraging being a family business versus changing its culture to be more corporate. (24:00)
  • I ask Mark, “What one piece of your business is the highlight of your day?” (27:51)
  • Toys is a fashion-based business; fashion and toys – similarities are plenty! (28:06)
  • What runs through Mark’s mind when a toy he designed does not make it? (30:00)
  • What a toy idea MUST have. (31:38)
  • The impact of the internet on retail in the toy industry. (32:40)
  • Start-ups can benefit from the low barrier to entry. (34:04)
  • Puzzles as the game comeback story of this pandemic. (35:00)
  • The trick to a good board game is that there are clear instructions. (38:38)
  • How true to life was the movie Big with Tom Hanks? It reflects the evolution of the industry. (39:45)
  • Matt’s best advice for anyone with a toy idea: understand the difference between a toy and a solution. (41:48)

Links to quench your curiosity:

Did you enjoy the conversation? Ever wish you could be a fly on the wall? Now you can by following me on Instagram! There I jump on an IGTV Live every Wednesday! You’ll catch me reporting LIVE on-location (so far in a gas station on a highway, a modern art museum, and my local fruit smoothie shop) always depending on my guest’s career thrills! During those LIVES, I share behind-the-scenes podcast stories, offer you a glimpse into my guest’s expertise, and always release more specifics around HOW you too can pursue your own billion-dollar career! Who knows where my next episode will take me? Come along! I want YOU to join me on my next adventure.

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Melissa Llarena

Melissa Llarena is an author, imagination coach, consultant, speaker, and contributor to ForbesWomen articles that have garnered 4 million + views. She is also the host of Unimaginable Wellness, the podcast for entrepreneurs, founders, and creators who are also moms. Featured guests include GaryVee and Beth Comstock. Melissa holds a psychology degree from New York University, an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, and a Transformational Coaching Academy certificate. She is training to become a meditation practitioner. Melissa lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and three sons. Visit

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