Creating a successful business out of a simple idea is something many dream of but few act on, yet that’s exactly what Tim Worboys has done with his startup, WallJAM. Worboys has taken the schoolchild pastime of kicking a ball against a wall and used it as the basis for his apparatus that can be used to enjoy physical activities in a fun way. Worboys has shown that a new invention is not necessarily the only way to start a new business – all you need is innovation.
I caught up with Worboys to find out how he managed to drive the launch of his startup.
How did WallJAM begin?
It started as an idea, one that stemmed from my times spent in the garden and school playground. I wondered: could I take the idea of a ball and a wall and create a 21st century experience where social competition and fun are the primary drivers of participation?
WallJAM offers a new, intelligent, and interactive ball-sports challenge. It revolutionizes the way traditional ball sports can be played by using ball rebound and smart technology.
WallJAM can be designed and deployed for a number of promotional and training applications. There are multiple variations available and the wall can be adapted for a number of ball sports. It has the ability to measure power, speed, and accuracy. You can track your progress and compare your scores with others by signing in to your account.
How did you build your customer base?
Since raising the required funds to build and test the interactive features, the product has evolved significantly. Still in our early years, we are keen to protect and nurture our intellectual property (IP) as well as the user experience. We are focused on delivering a new experiential offer, one that can be used to activate brands and align products to major sporting events. To this end, we are initially working with a sponsorship and brand activation agency to build and engage with major corporations, but now we’re being approached by brands directly!
Why do you think it is important to build technology into sport?
WallJAM morphs technology with sport and hopes to drive participation though the gamification of ball sports such as football and tennis.
The time is right to integrate the physical challenge of playing sport, and monitoring and sharing performance data through the various social media channels. Technology in sport empowers the user and enables them to play without fear of failure.
How did you find the funding process when you first began setting up the business?
To kick-start things, I relied on investment from friends and family, grants from Innovate UK (Smart Awards), and the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS).
When we needed to deliver the full tech offer, I went through my own contact base to target high net-worth private investors. I aimed to raise £450,000 ($675,000) but fell short by £100,000 ($150,000), I turned to Crowd Funding and we approached Crowdcube. In the end, we actually raised more than our target. I would advise anyone going down this path to tread carefully. It is not a given you will succeed, and it requires a lot of personal effort and endeavor to succeed through the crowd – plus a good product and background of course!
What was the most useful thing you learnt as an entrepreneur?
Whatever funds you think you might require to get your project off the ground, double it, and double it again. Do the same for the time you believe you need to get your product market ready.
What is the most important piece of advice you would give to someone who is trying to start a business?
Try and identify a customer need. If there is a gap and you have the solution – happy days! I would recommend improving existing products and capitalizing on other inventions rather than developing a completely new product.
What are your future plans for WallJAM?
We are in the early stages of our journey. We are looking to gain a foothold with sponsors in the run up to Euro 2016. It is a demand-led product, where user feedback through social media will deliver the platform for growth.
I hope that, over the next few years, WallJAM will be a sports arena that can be found in leisure centres, leisure parks and shopping centres around the world.
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Source: Power More Business