Making it Work

Holotoyz aims to bring AR toy brand to international markets

The company combines traditional toys with cutting-edge augmented reality technology to bring them to life

Kate Scott, co-owner, Holotoyz: ‘We can enhance children’s toys and books in a really magical way’. Picture: Lorraine O’Sullivan

Holotoyz, a futuristic toy brand founded in lockdown, is targeting international markets in a bid to bring its augmented reality (AR) toy brand worldwide in the next year, with new product ranges set to launch in the near future.

The company, founded during lockdown in 2020 by husband and wife Kate Scott and Declan Fahy as well as Paul Cosgrave, combined AR with kids’ toys to enhance the experience that children can have.

“We create magical experiences by combining traditional toys with cutting-edge augmented reality technology, which means you can play with your toys in the real world, but they also come to life using a phone or tablet, interacting with you in ways you’ve never seen before,” co-owner Scott told the Business Post.

Company details Holotoyz

Founded by: Kate Scott, Declan Fahy and Paul Cosgrave in 2020

Staff: 4

Funding: €1m

“Augmented reality technology uses computer-generated visual and auditory media that is overlaid on the physical world, meaning we can enhance children’s toys and books in a really magical way.”

The company employs four staff and produces a diverse product range, including children’s books, temporary tattoos, stickers and wall decals, with a range including jigsaw puzzles, play sets and magnetic cubes set to launch soon. It has raised €1 million in the last year up to July 2023.

“We believe this experience offers a whole new way for kids to play and learn with toys and books, captivating a new generation in a way that feels magical and more relevant to them,” Scott said.

Scott told the Business Post that the business was inspired by their own kids’ fascination with social media filters. Due to the safety risks associated with social media, Scott said that the idea was to safely combine this social media technology with toys.

“We landed on the idea that we could marry this technology with physical toys in a safe way, and this is when HoloToyz was born. We always wanted to keep our vision simple yet impactful. We set out to merge the wonder of AR technology with conventional toys and books,” she said.

“We wanted to make sure kids could still enjoy physical play while adding an extra layer of excitement and learning to their playtime through this creative technology, away from the open web and social media channels.”

This exciting venture allows children to bring their favourite iconic PAW Patrol pups to life

The company expanded its distribution partnerships across Ireland, the UK, France, Greece, the Baltics, New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong. It has also forged a sales partnership in the US and this month it will be launching its products in America at the New York Toy Fair, where it will represent Ireland as the only Irish toy company exhibiting.

A pivotal moment for the company, according to Scott, is its collaboration with Paramount, through Nickelodeon, this year. Together Holotoyz and Paramount unveiled an award-winning, world-first PAW Patrol range of AR tattoos and stickers.

“This exciting venture allows children to bring their favourite iconic PAW Patrol pups to life, enabling them to take photos and videos alongside their beloved characters, and it has been met with a hugely enthusiastic response from the toy industry,” Scott said.

The company received one of only six toy awards at this year’s Spielwarenmesse, the world’s largest toy fair, and Scott said that Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start-up (HPSU) fund was pivotal in the beginning, providing funding and resources as well as helping the company secure partnerships and key investments.

“This support enabled us to accelerate our product development, expand our team and reach new markets. The HPSU program also offered invaluable training and resources to fine-tune our business strategy and hone our pitch, helping us secure key partnerships and investments,” Scott said.

The company’s plans include an expansion of its product range to cover a wider range of age groups and interests. Additionally, it is investing in research and development to stay at the forefront of AR technology.

“We are ensuring that our products remain fun, engaging, and educational,” Scott said.