The Netflix for LEGO, Pley is Shipping Fun Direct to Kids

March 3, 2015

9:00 am

If you go back far enough in the history of LEGO you’ll see that the models of old are in stark contrast to what they are today. There weren’t instructions, detailed LEGO bricks, and you were supposed to build purely off of imagination.

What I’m getting at here is that as they’ve grown in popularity LEGO has also grown in complexity. And with growth in those areas comes also a growth in price.

“I realized I spent literally $3,000 in Legos back in 2012 for my son. I thought it was obnoxious and bad parenting more than anything else. And my kid isn’t a guy that gets everything he wants: the toys are just that expensive now,” says Lachman.

Not to mention, once his son had finished building a set he would want to start in on the next one immediately. And that’s when Lachman started looking for rental services, only he couldn’t find anything.

So, he began researching and building a thought off of the fact that 86 percent of US households have at least one LEGO set. Paired with the fact that LEGO is the number one toy in the world and brings in $5 billion annually, Lachman knew he had to get in on the action.

The end result was brilliant in its simplicity and concept: users sign up to receive LEGO sets every month, usually one per, but upgrades are available. Lachman decided to call his new venture Pley, and business is booming.

Once users sign up, they can create a ‘Pleylist’ from hundreds of LEGO sets, play with them, and then return them with free shipping both ways. To further extend the innovative nature of his idea, Lachman recently announced PleyWorld, a platform that goes hand in hand with the rental model.

PleyWorld creates LEGO kits based on designs created by LEGO enthusiasts before being voted on by the fan community. Photos of the design are uploaded to PleyWrold, and once a design reaches 5,000 votes Pley uses their machinery to create a new set; in effect they’re putting the hands to develop new LEGO sets into the hands of their consumers.

“As you may know, LEGO has tried to adopt its own crowdsourced set design, but the process has been extremely slow – just 10 limited availability kits in the last several years – and designs still require approval by a LEGO board,” says Lachman. “PleyWorld creates sets in as little as two weeks, designs aren’t edited, and we create what the community wants.”

All of his success is backed by data as well: Lachman surveys his members asking how many times they purchased a LEGO set six months prior to joining Pley, how much the kids played with it, and how many LEGO sets they bought post-Pley. What they found was that the service actually increased brand awareness by 40 percent for LEGO and proved their revenue.

LEGO is expensive, and most kids only get a new set maybe once or twice a year. With Pley, kids are enjoying three to four sets a month. You take a product that used to be on the fringe of existence due to price and put it in the core of a kid’s play time, and that in turn ignites other areas of interest for LEGO love.

When kids go to a book store they’re looking at the LEGO books. They want to watch the LEGO TV series. And all the royalty revenue goes right back into the corporate LEGO wallet. So, in effect, Pley could be considered a complementary promoter for the LEGO brand.

“In an on-demand economy where sharing becomes more important, our idea becomes that much more important,” says Lachman. “Owning is old school, and the smart consumer is the one who can use capital for experiences versus owning stuff. Why buy the Lego when, for one tenth of the price, you get to build it? Then you get to that 9 more times.”

To put it bluntly: this is epic. There are plenty of kids and families that can testify to that. I only wish Pley was around when I was a kid.

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Will is a Senior Writer with Tech.Co, based out of America's Finest City: San Diego. He covers all territory West of the Mississippi river, digging deep for awesome local entrepreneurs, companies, and ideas. He's the resident Android junkie and will be happy to tell you why you should switch to the OS. When he's off the clock, Will focuses his literary talent on the art of creative writing...or you might find him surfing in Ocean Beach. Follow Will on Twitter @WJS1988

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