Sphero | Connected Toys

Weekly Wrap Up - Deal Me

29 Nov 2016
Weekly Wrap Up - Deal Me

Did you get all of your holiday shopping done? Did you pants expand because of the food marathon that is Thanksgiving and then shrink because of the shopping marathon that is Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

We feel a little lighter ourselves, to be honest. As mentioned before, we threw everything and the kitchen sink—which in hindsight we should have probably kept—into Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals for all you kiddos to gobble up. And like a newly-pardoned turkey, gobble, gobble you did. So many Sphero 2.0s, BB-8s, Force Bands, SPRK+s, Ollies and Darksides went out the door faster than Spheroites on ice cream day.

If you missed out on the action, fret not—we still have plenty of deals and Holiday Bundles to get your robot on.

Our robots, that is. Not necessarily the dance. Well, ok the dance too.

A Day In The Life: Jake Bendrick

Weekly Wrap Up - Deal Me

Q. Alright, for those who don’t know you—and that’s only a small few—mind telling us your name and title here?

A. My name is Jake. I am Director of Operations.

Q. Hi, Jake. So what do you do at Sphero every day?

A. Logistics. Customer service. Other things.

Q. What’s the best piece of advice you can offer for those looking to get into the same thing?

A. Don't smoke.

Q. Hear that, kids? What are you currently working on?

A. I am working on a lot of things.

Q. A man of few words. What is your favorite aspect of working at Sphero?

A. The words on the wall in our building.  One of the phrases is "Creativity takes Courage."  It's hilarious. I laugh and laugh every time I read it.

Q. I thought I kept hearing someone crying in the hallways. Do you have a favorite bot?

A. Sphero original.  I remember checking the very first units to come out of a Sphero box in 2011.  It was like seeing the first primate stand up on two legs.  Everything else came from there.

Q. What do like to do outside of Sphero?

A. I enjoy making sculptures of woodland creatures attached to wood and sometimes I add glitter to make the piece really "pop."  I also am hoping to create collectible sporks.  Some people collect different spoons with states associated with them.  I would like to do sporks of every county in the USA.

Q. I’m intrigued. What do you enjoy most about living in Colorado?

A. It's better than living in Nebraska but the mountains are so crowded I usually head north if I want to get outdoors.  Going to the mountains in Colorado is like being part of a zombie movie where the zombies are yuppies and I'm really sick of zombie movies since they were already tired in 2004, not to mention 2016.

Q. Can you recommend a favorite yuppie-less spot?

A. I don't really have a recommendation or a favorite spot.

Q. Right me neither. Last question—what can you share about yourself most of us don’t know?

A. I don't really like Game of Thrones at this point.  They jumped the shark.  You can only try to shock me so many times before I'm desensitized to it.  Rather than adding depth to the story and world they've created, they kill off likable characters and hope that the internet blows up. Not great, in my opinion.

ICYMI Top 5

  1. Frosty.
  2. Festive.
  3. Let it snow.
  4. Peek-a-boo.
  5. SPRK OG.

Weekly Wrap Up - Giving Thanks

22 Nov 2016
Weekly Wrap Up - Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is only two days away and things seem to be pretty quiet here at Sphero HQ. Don’t get us wrong—chit chat has been put on the back burner as we’re working hard tying up any loose ends and getting everything ready for the holiday.

Yup, it's officially that time. We’re once again throwing our hats into the chaotic rink that is Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and every other day that ends in "Y" and starts with "SALE". We’ll have some bot deals and holiday bundles you can ogle over as you recover from your week’s worth of turkey leftovers—all from the comfort of your home. Or bathroom.

Aside from that, we wish you a nom-worthy Thanksgiving and advise you don’t forget your sweatpants.

Or any pants, really.

A Day In The Life: Darby Vernon

Weekly Wrap Up - Giving Thanks

Q. Hi. Please tell us your name and what you do here.

A. My name’s Darby Vernon and I’m a game designer here at Sphero.

Q. That’s rad. Can you detail what that looks like day-to-day?

A. My work revolves around fun. Not just having fun, but also making sure all our products are fun. I come up with ideas, but spend most of my time testing those ideas. Did other people find those ideas fun? How do we make it more fun? This can be done either very quickly on paper or on the computer to test out.

Q. What piece of advice can you offer to those also interested in game designing?

A. The worst best piece of advice I got when trying to be a designer was: make a game. It’s a terrible piece of advice because, if it was that easy, everyone would be a game designer. Instead think of a simple game you used to play as a kid (tic tac toe, Go Fish, etc.) and change the rules to try and improve it. Test it on your friends and family. Write down their feedback and try again. Rinse, repeat, iterate. You’ve now gone through the most important steps to being a game designer, and have your own game to show off at interviews.

Q. Simplistic and effective, like some of the best games I know. Can you share what you’re working on now or is it super secret?

A. Um, yeah, super secret.

Q. Ah, I figured. Ok, besides fun super-secret things, what is your favorite aspect of working at Sphero?

A. I love the culture here. Everyone is super friendly and talented, and we’re all experts in our field. It also means I get to learn about other practices. Just the other day I was in a marketing meeting with the marketing department, I get to work daily with engineers, and I’m constantly inspired by looking over the shoulders of our artists.

Q. Do you have a favorite Sphero bot?

A. BB-8! It’s amazing how much personality you can get out of a robot that’s just a ball with a head. Though I might be a bit biased, considering I helped with some of that.

Q. I think most of our fans would agree with you. What do enjoy outside of work?

A. Video games mostly, though I also like to do some drawing and creative writing in my free time.

Q. Nice. What do you love most about living in Colorado?

A. It’s always so sunny here! Even when it snows, it doesn’t outstay its welcome. I get cold easily so I prefer the warmer weather.

Q. So what can you recommend to do around here? Have a fave spot you can share with the rest of us?

A. If you’re ever near the University of Denver, there’s this little shack called Jerusalem’s. Looks completely unassuming; best shawarma ever. That shawarma got me through college.

Q. Never underestimate the power of a good shawarma. Ok, last question—what can you share about yourself most of us don’t know?

A. Robots used to scare me as a kid. My little six year old self probably wouldn’t believe that I’d end up working at a company that makes robots. I wanted to become a paleontologist instead. Hm, maybe… robot dinosaurs are in my future?

ICYMI Top 5

  1. Lights, Camera, Droid.
  2. Frosty.
  3. Rolling in the rain.
  4. Rugged.
  5. Ollie FTW.

Weekly Wrap Up - The Star Wars Show

15 Nov 2016
Weekly Wrap Up - The Star Wars Show

The holidays are quickly approaching and we don’t know about you, but we’re feeling the FORCE of the season. If you’re a Star Wars fan—or any millennial, for that matter—chances are you’ve heard of a little production called The Star Wars Show. This show is famous for giving us an inside peek into the world of Lucas Films, including special guest appearances, and who more Star Wars-y than BB-8?

This week our social media guru, Pete, is traveling to Lucasfilm LTD to guide the team in learning the ways of the Force with the help of Special Edition Battle-Worn BB-8 and the Force Band. With commands like Force push, Force pull and expert-style navigation, BB-8’s going to give a performance out of this world.

You know what else would have been out of this world? If the whole Sphero team would’ve also been invited to Lucasfilm. We’re only 197 people, and we promised to be super quiet, try not to touch anything nor freak out too much.

But no. They just needed Pete. It’s fine.

A Day In The Life: Matt Duncan

Weekly Wrap Up - The Star Wars Show

Q. S’up. To start things off, who are you and what is your title here?

A. Hey there, so I'm Matt Duncan, the North American Sales Manager here at Sphero.

Q. Awesome. And what exactly does that translate to Monday through Friday?

A. It's my job to make sure all of our fans can find our products. So I work with our retail partners to make sure our awesome toys find their way to store shelves.

Q. Visibility is not just a word. What advice can you offer for those interested in getting in on the sales side of things?

A. Try to pick an industry that you're passionate to be in. If you love what you're doing you're going to find success.

Q. Solid advice. So what are you currently working on?

A. Most of the projects I'm focusing on have to do with 2017 & 2018, so they're still under wraps.

Q. Love wraps, especially lettuce ones. What do you love about working here? Not sure I can comment on our wraps…

A. It's got to be the culture. We have the best people in the industry at our office and I love the community that comes from that.

Q. Which of our bots is your favorite?

A. My heart is torn! I love Ollie for its speed and ability to drift, but there is so much magic in BB-8! I think those two take the cake.

Q. All this talk about food is making me hungry. What do you like to do outside of work?

A. I love being outside, so you can usually find me running, hiking, or snowboarding, but I also love to do a little carpentry.

Q. And if all that wasn’t good enough, what is your favorite part about living in Colorado?

A. The outdoors and the beer! I think it'd be hard to find a better place for both.

Q. Any places you recommend we check out? What’s your favorite spot to eat or hang?

A. Spend some time in Rocky Mountain National Park. Between the crystal clear lakes, Elk, and occasional moose you'll get an awesome taste for what Colorado has to offer. I [also] love West End Tavern off of Pearl St. in Boulder. They have some of the best cornbread in Colorado.

Q. Final question: What can you share about yourself that most of us don’t know?

A. I grew up on a small horse farm in Georgia, so I love good southern BBQ.

ICYMI Top 5

  1. Bridges, not boarders.
  2. Epic slide.
  3. Tour de Force.
  4. Duuuun dun. Duuun dun.
  5. BFFs.

Weekly Wrap Up - The Choice

08 Nov 2016
Weekly Wrap Up - The Choice

You’ve done your research. You’ve debated back and fourth, maybe even changed your mind a few times. Now the day has come and the moment of truth is finally upon you. You face the daunting task of choosing between two candidates worthy of your fandom: Ollie or Darkside?

You know the characteristics they tout: one is heroic and tenacious, the other is devious and defiant, but both look like a heck of a lot of fun. So, which to choose?

Maybe you had your heart set on one, but Uncle John—buying what he felt was the right choice for you—gifted you the other for your birthday. It may not have been the one you wanted, but it’s the thought that counts, right? John could have also checked your wish list, but he’s not that tech-savvy yet.

Whatever the outcome, we trust that you’ll be the best driver you can be; pushing Ollie or Darkside to the max by racing and tumbling your way around the house or outside in the skatepark. Chances are you’ll meet other rad Ollie and Darkside adrenaline junkies to have epic races with. You’re all here to have a blast, right? So, why not together?

After all, we built these bots for fun, and we’re counting on you to take them to new heights.

A Day In The Life: Deidre Casey

Weekly Wrap Up - The Choice

Q. Ohayoo gozaimasu! Would you please introduce yourself and your title here?

A. Hi, I'm Deidre! I'm currently a QA & Localization Analyst, basically I get to play with robots in 8 different languages all day.

Q. So what you’re saying is my initial greeting didn’t even make you blink. Noted. Can you elaborate on what your job entails?

A. It's my job to make sure our apps and robots work well on all types of devices and no unexpected bugs show up while you're having fun. Localization has been a recent focus for the QA team, so we're working to improve the quality of translations across French, Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese and Korean.

Q. Like the UN? Or the UB—United Bots? Never mind. What advice can you offer for those interested in doing what you do?

A. The little things matter. In both QA and localization analysis, perfection is the reason you exist. Taking the time to critically and carefully analyze all aspects of a product ensures that you're helping your team put out the best work possible. It's not always fun to tell people all the things that are broken during the development cycle, but ultimately it helps the team deliver a product they can all be proud of.

Q. In this case, every body likes a critic. Are you able to share what you’re currently analyzing?

A. At the moment I'm on a pretty secret project, but I've done various work on Force Band, BB-8 and SPRK.

Q. What aspect to you enjoy the most about working here?

A. I'm sure everyone else has said this and it may seem super cliche, but honestly my favorite part of working at Sphero is that I am constantly inspired by the extremely talented and passionate group of people I work with.

Q. Since you have a good amount of insight into each bot, I’m curious to know which is your fave.

A. I remember asking my mom as a little girl if I could have an R2-D2 for Christmas after watching Star Wars IV: A New Hope. I didn't understand why I couldn't have one at the time, so having gotten to work on and own a personal BB-8 is a dream come true! Nerdiness aside, I also love SPRK+ and may or may not program it to terrorize my dog on the weekend...

Q. Pet terrorism aside, what else do you like to do outside of work?

A. Two things: learn more languages and play lots of League of Legends. I also volunteer on Skype as an English conversation partner with a private high school in Japan.

Q. What can you say is your favourite part of living in Colorado?

A. The colors! Each season has such a unique array of colors, I love going on walks or hikes and taking pictures of all the rich nature we have here. Plus our sunsets are pretty incredible.

Q. Where are sunsets the best? Any place you recommend we check out?

A. Hands down Rocky Mountain National Park. Even if you don't like to hike much, there are a lot of great locations to go on low key walks in our beautiful mountains.

Q. Alright, last question—what can you share about yourself that most of us don’t know?

A. I interned with the internationally-renowned photographer Benjamin Von Wong for 6 months in Canada several years ago. We're still besties.

ICYMI Top 5

  1. Shoreline.
  2. No tricks, all treats.
  3. Tickle, tickle.
  4. Duuuun dun. Duuun dun.
  5. Carvings.

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