In 2003, he started YoYo Factory. The business began at a coffee table and has boomed into a haven for yo-yo beginners and world champions alike.
“I love the game,” Van Dan Elzen said. “But I love watching the ‘aha’ moment when a kid does a trick they never in a million years thought they could do. I’ve seen it happen over and over, and it never gets old.”
YoYo Factory creates all its own yo-yos, but Van Dan Elzen and co-founder Ben McPhee also travel the globe delivering instruction to beginners.
“It’s mostly kids, but there’s really no age limit on a yo-yo,” Van Dan Elzen said. “It’s fun for people of all ages. All these years later, I still love it.”
Precision and quality parts go into creating the yo-yos. Van Dan Elzen said the team looks into everything from the length of the string to the kind of knot tied for the finger loop to the mechanisms that make the toy spin.
“When you’re making yo-yos, it’s more precise than aerospace engineering,” he said. “The development of toys for children, and the number of tests they have to go through, is intense. We have to be precise; we can’t be off by one decimal. There is lot of thinking that goes into every yo-yo.”
YoYo Factory also has a storefront in its building where people can come in and purchase a yo-yo and get a lesson in how best to use it.
“I like helping people realize they can do something they never thought they could do before,” he said. “No one out there rejects a yo-yo, they just need to learn how to use it.”