As I write this column I am sporting three wearable devices. No joke. Sports business trends are all about technology this year, especially with wearables. But in a world where we are always wired for data, there’s something liberating about checking out of our devices and checking in, to good old fashion physical activity. Here are seven startups that strike a balance of inspiring innovation, while making it easy to bring our physical game on the go.
- Wobblrs – In what is said to be the soccer capital of the United States, Kansas City natives Roberto Camacho and Max Hasslequist reinvented the DIY game of kicking a soccer ball at a pin. Removing the barrier of manually resetting each pin, Wobblers are uniquely designed pins that reassume their position after every strike, making the classic game much more enjoyable and efficient.
- Spikeball – During the 1980’s, a game similar to Spikeball was sold at Toys R Us stores for a very short period of time. In the early 2000’s, Chris Rudder’s original set was on its last leg. After a vigorous search, he couldn’t find a replacement. A large amount of interest from those who witnessed a game in action combined with Rudder’s passion for the sport, inspired him to reach out to friends for investment towards purchasing the expired trademark and resurrecting the lost game. Spikeball has since been on Inc’s 5000 fastest growing companies list.
- Hockey Sauce Kit – The inability to practice off the rink was the inspiration for Vince Stellato to create this unique backyard style hockey game. Hockey Sauce allows players to maintain their accuracy during the off season, by allowing users to play on any surface (even water), giving hockey enthusiasts a new, fun way play the sport.
- Twisted Guru Beach Yoga Mats – Have you ever tried to unwind in a beach yoga session but your mat won’t stay still? It’s no day at the beach. As a yoga instructor in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey, finding the perfect mat was Carrie Godesky’s biggest issue. As a result, she created a yoga mat herself with corner pockets designed to fill with sand, keeping the mat in place on even the windiest of days.
- KanJam – When tossing discs into a garbage can wasn’t enough, Charles Sciandra and Mitch Rubin of Buffalo, New York wanted to transform the makeshift game into a legitimate sport. The simplistic design and size of the cans make it easy to play while tailgating, camping, on beach trips, backyard parties, and basically anywhere else you can throw a Frisbee.
- Synapse 2-Line Sport Kite By Prism – Fascinated by aviation and design, Mike Reed and Scobie Puchtler made it their life’s work to create kites that expanded interest in a sport where their passion resides. Created in their Seattle basement, Prism Kites now provides a wide variety of products, each with their own specific functionalities.
- Wiffle Ball – After shutting down numerous games of stickball due to the damage they caused to surrounding homes, David Mullany asked his father for help. After much trial and error, a solution – a plastic, funny looking ball with a solid half and eight oblong holes cut in the other half – popularly known today as the Wiffle ball. Its name personifies the noise made from when the batter swings and misses a pitch – “whiff!” Mullany removed the “h” to save money in case they would eventually need to paint a sign for the company. Since 1953, Wiffle balls have been sailing through backyards and thwacking garages – arguably the most fun you can have for under $4.00.
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