Three Things to Learn from the Designer of the Slotto Toy Set

I am inspired by the story of Robert Darling, the inventor of the toy called Slotto. Three years ago Robert found himself out of work and struggling to provide a source of income. After trying unsuccessfully to find a job, he went to work in his shop and starting working on a toy design that had been thinking about for decades.

What developed was a very cool wooden toy set that he called “Slotto”. It is a set of wooden pieces that fit together in countless ways so that children can design and create anything they want. He began selling them at a local market and slowly they grew in demand. Through several events and thousands of hours of designing, cutting and building, he now has a 5 year contract with a manufacturer that will build these on a very large scale. You can read more about his story on

If you have read my blog before, you know that I love stories like this and I enjoy learning from the success of entrepreneurs like Robert. Here are some things that I learned from this story:

  • Sometimes ideas wait a long time before they take shape – Robert waited years to put his design to the test. Perhaps it was the perfect set of circumstances for his design to work, but I wonder what could have been if he had tried this earlier in his life. Do you have something in mind that you have hesitated to act on? Is it a design of some kind? Perhaps it is a toy idea. Don’t wait too long to give it a try.
  • Many people look back and say how grateful they are for the “bad times” – If Mr. Darling hadn’t been out of work, he would not have had the motivation to design the Slotto Toy Set. Today he has grown famous for his ingenuity and reviving the American Spirit of creativity and entrepreneurship.  Sometimes the “bad times” are what we need to discover our real purpose.
  • Don’t be afraid to start small – I am impressed that Robert began to manufacture his toy sets and to sell them at a local market. See another article I wrote about a man in a similar situation that use a local farmer’s market to begin to change his life. Many communities have local markets that are welcoming more than just vegetables and baked goods. They are places to test new ideas and get feedback from customers. If you have a business idea or a product, I recommend investigating local community markets as a way to get started.

Get out there and make something happen!

About The Author

Duane Rockensock

Duane (Rocky) Rockensock is a husband, a dad, and the National Reconditioning Manager for AmeriGas Propane. Since he was a teenager, Duane has loved hearing the stories of how people have started creative businesses or found ways to use their talents to accomplish amazing things. For that reason he started this blog to encourage teens and adults to find their purpose and to provide the tools and resources to make that happen!

  • Jason

    Don’t wait, get out there and try! And don’t let other people discourage you.
    Good stuff Rocky!

    • Thanks Jason! Glad to see you making progress in your business!

  • Hi Rocky,
    Thanks for all the kind words and for sharing my story! I really appreciate it, and just so you know, my first name is Robert! Glenn got it wrong a few times. He keeps wanting to call me Richard for some reason. He also said I live in Ohio at one point but I’m not picky.. He’s helped me a lot and things are really hopping at the moment!! Merry Christmas and all the best to you and yours!

    Robert (in Oregon…)

    • Duane

      I apologize for getting your first name wrong! I have corrected the post. It’s an honor to have you comment on the article.

      Since I was in Junior High I have been inspired by stories like yours. Hopefully through my blog, and microphones like Glenn’s, your story will continue to inspire people young and old.

      Merry Christmas to you and your family as well!