Update: Well, we have been off the grid for awhile. If you are reading this I just want to say thanks for your interest in the Bandit Ball Project. We are still working with the manufacturer and engineers to produce the perfect toy ball. This has taken some time but patience is a virtue. Hoping to launch in the spring or summer of this year!
OFF THE GRID: What follows is the story of an idea which has taken up the second most amount of time in my design career. It's not on the market and may never reach that point. I just wanted to put it out there to illustrate the effort and expense which folks like me go through to follow a dream.
"OFF THE GRID" is a cool table top game that I came up with in 2008. In a span of 5 or 6 years, I sent it out to a number of companies, all with the hope of getting a license agreement. It's a highly speculative endeavor and the chances for success are slim. We kept at it because this was/is a good idea. I say "keep at it" because I am not alone. There are so many people out there with hopes and ideas. So many who work during the day and spend time at night or weekends to pursue a goal or creative idea. I wish you all the best of luck and perseverance in following your passions.
OFF THE GRID had several names and iterations. I spent hundreds of hours on design and detail of this new word game, all while working full time, sometimes overtime, at my job.
GRIDSTER Version 2011 Color Version with Cards 2012
How it works: You quickly shake up letter discs and each falls into a space on the playing venue, which is the unique Grid surface. In each play you want to be the first to find a random word. This is determined by the roll of a die or the turn of a card. To win the game, be the first to get a certain number of discs "Off The Grid".
Nate and Kailee with GRIDSTER
Cousins Emily and Jack with an early version of OFF THE GRID.
In 2010 I got an interview with a very large toy company from Toronto, Canada. I won't mention their name because this is a blog, but they have lots of cool products in the toy industry. The appointment was at a hotel in downtown Chicago with their world traveling product discovery V.P. I had been trying to develop a relationship with them and wanted to show them my crazy new game. The V.P. was seeing several inventors that day, as is the custom. He was to text when ready for me. What was funny was I didn't even have a cell phone at the time. Had to borrow my son's!
I recall being sooo nervous. Where was that gutsy young entrepreneur from my twenties? Wise enough not to wear cowboy boots (see post # 3), I was dressed in "business casual". The text came and I was on my way to room #945. I got into the elevator, only to find that there was no 9th floor! I had to text back. It was his mistake and I traveled to room 745. Big breath. Knock on the door.
"Oh my Gosh... I'm over dressed!", was my introduction. There was Ben, the international vice president... with a week's growth of beard, sweatshirt and cut offs! I quickly lost all nervousness. We had a great meeting and he directed me to send the prototype to Toronto. As luck would have it, the company was just about to start a game division.
That was a big deal. I remember calling Michael on the way home to share the good news. It began an exciting period of about 4 months. "A time of hope," I've always called it. A company has your concept in hand to review and they might say yes!
I ended up sending the game to Toronto at least three separate times over the next few years. Each time with a couple of revisions. But they never did say yes. It's just the law of averages. Keep trying. Hard to sometimes, but you've gotta do it!
A photo from the most recent submission in 2016.
If there has been a constant in all the years I've spent doing this, it's the love and support of my wife, kids and grand kids. Son-in-law David has come into the picture. You can see how Nate has grown. Ideas come and go but your family is always with you. For me this has truly been a blessing!
Here is a short video, filmed at our kitchen table as we tested an early version of the concept. At least my kids have put up with me! It has been a long journey and in some ways it is just beginning...
It does take a village, or a family, to raise a child. Even if the child is the dad! You can add friends, acquaintances and community to the equation of inventing or entrepreneurial ideas.
We are all in this together people. Stay tuned for Bandit Ball ... it's a hopeful time!