A Coconut Creek family creates a toy out of a trend

It started with a Labor Day barbecue. Something that had the potential to be a gathering of youths sitting and staring at their cellphones turned into a marathon session of one of today’s hottest games: bottle flipping.

The goal is simple: Flip a partially filled water bottle and make it land upright.

“My son and a bunch of his friends were outside flipping bottles for hours,” says Anna Parker, a Coconut Creek resident. That same week, her husband, Jim, came up with the idea of creating reusable bottles to sell. She remembers being skeptical at first, especially since they had no experience launching a product, but any activity that could keep kids away from their digital devices that long was worth exploring.

As with any idea, the first step is research. Anna and Jim spent much of last fall in experimentation mode. “The bottle took forever to find,” Anna recalls. They ordered samples from every bottle company in the United States, evaluating each based on durability and ease of flipping. They tested repeatedly, trying different materials, and adjusting the liquid ratios to find the perfect balance.

The couple’s three kids, Avry, age 4, Noah, 10, and Emma, 14, were involved in the process. Their friends were great for market research; they came over to play with the bottles and test the designs. The game had to be difficult enough to be challenging, but not discouragingly hard.

Finally, in January, they were ready to launch. The Parkers took their game, called Flipz, to the Coral Springs farmers market for its first presentation to the public. Their goal was to sell one bottle for $6, and see what feedback the toy would get. The response was overwhelmingly positive; adults and kids alike surrounded their booth, wanting to try their hand at bottle flipping.

But Anna and Jim wanted to take their product to the next level. They thought it was still too unpolished, too homemade. They knew the concept of bottle flipping was not new—the game has been popular for the last two years—but they believed their idea could transcend the trend. With two full-time jobs and three children to raise, they knew they needed outside help.

Anna used to work in the fundraising department of Junior Achievement of South Florida, a nonprofit organization that aims to teach kids financial literacy and entrepreneurship. Through Anna’s connections, the Parkers were able to find the guidance they needed on their own entrepreneurial journey.

With their next steps mapped out and new investor support to back them, Flipz reached a higher level. The final product, a set of four bottles, is now available in both the Boca Raton and Coconut Creek locations of Learning Express Toys. Each box contains four colors, a landing pad, and game cards with instructions for 12 different games.

The launch was at Learning Express Toys at Promenade at Coconut Creek in October. Local families attended, as well the mayor and vice mayor of Coconut Creek. All who came had the chance to try Flipz for themselves and tap into the connection that only off-screen play can provide.

“It was fun to see all these different types of people playing, and shouting that they wanted to win,” Anna says with a smile.

The product was available through Amazon two days later, giving the family another reason to celebrate.

With Flipz seemingly poised to take off, Anna is grateful for the local support that helped them get started.

The Parkers aim to use the platform they’ve built to operate from a place of service.

Anna’s mother volunteers at an assisted living facility, where the game has brought joy to residents. The product is assembled at the Habilitation Center in Boca Raton, which provides work for adults with special needs, allowing them to find purpose and meaning in their day. Eventually, the family wants to start a charitable foundation.

“We created this out of a trend, but we want this game to last forever,” Anna says.