A shark out of water: Daymond John visits the New York Toy Fair
The New York Toy Fair is the largest in the nation, a capitalist nirvana for the makers of playthings for children. But while those manufacturers have their pitches and buyers have their cash, no one has more bite than a shark.
Daymond John of "Shark Tank" visited the recent show and said the experience made him feel like a kid who had just taken a hammer to his piggy bank.
"I get to see some of the most amazing products in the world ... some of the old-time favorites and the new renditions of those," he said. "And I get opportunities to hopefully partner up, and see other brands and companies that I could potentially invest in. … This is like heaven!"
Sparkup, Magical Book Reader and BrickStix were just two of the smaller companies he was excited to see. The former, an Israeli company, has developed visual recognition technology that reads books aloud. But that's more than a toy for John and millions of others.
"You know how badly I needed this, growing up dyslexic?" he asked.
BricksStix makes removable plastic designs, for use with Legos, that Greyson MacLean designed when he was 9. (John presented him with the Young Inventor of the Year award at the Toy and Game Inventor Awards in 2011.) Now 14, MacLean is giving John ideas.
"I'm going to hope that one day he'll give me a job, because he's going to be a billionaire," John said.
From rockets to robots, the fair had it all, but what was most evident was inspiration.
"The future's amazing for young entrepreneurs," John said. "The young ones that come on 'Shark Tank,' I just want to invest with them because they're smarter than me."
By Liza Hughes, Special to CNBC. Follow Liza @liza_hughes
Tuesdays have more bite with back-to-back episodes of "Shark Tank" on CNBC every Tuesday night at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. ET.