Spikeball Founder Chris Ruder Joins Us On The Steve Jobs Inspired Join Up Dots Podcast
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Introducing Spikeball Creator Chris Ruder
Spikeball Founder and CEo Chris Ruder has created a new and fun sport that looks like its going to be big everywhere.
Spikeball’s appearance on Shark Tank was voted as one of the best episodes of all time.
ESPN went as far as to say Spikeball is mainstream.
Now our guest today started the business 2008 and ran it as a night job for 5 years while keeping his day job as an Advertising Executive.
5 years after its founding, Spike ball hit $1 million in annual sales with zero full-time employees.
How The Dots Joined Up For Spike Ball
At that time, Chris quit his day job and went full-time.
That was one of the best days of his life and Spikeball’s mission is to the create the next great global sport, with tournaments appearing on ESPN whilst taking place all over the world.
Chris lives in Chicago with his 3 great kids and fantastic wife.
He is on the board of I Grow Chicago and the company has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to help address gun violence, the environment and education.
So did he need to spend those five years as a side hustle business, or was it simply a leap into the unknown that scared him.
And how do you know that you have a great product on your hands before you ever invest your own money into the business?
Well let’s find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Chris Ruder
During the show we discussed such deep subjects with Chris Ruder from Spikeball such as:
Chris shares how Spikeball wasn’t his idea at first, but he took an original product that in many ways had failed and made it much better.
Why it is such an amazing idea to provide free parts for life to customers as they become your marketing department for free.
Chris allows us a glimpse into the starting process of getting his customers to fall in love with SpikeBall.
The Spikeball founder talks openly about his appearance on Dragons Den, and what the show truly brings a new business.
How To Connect With Mr Spikeball Chris Ruder
Or if you prefer just pop over to our podcast archive for thousands of amazing episodes to choose from.
Full Transcription Of Spikeball Founder Interview
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK. David Ralph.
David Ralph [0:25]
Yes, of course. It’s me friends. It’s Join Up Dots. I’m not gonna hand this over to anybody else to host Am I so yes, it’s David Ralph. And thank you so much for joining us, um, today’s guest on the show. He’s the founder of a company called spike ball, which is a new and fun sport, but looks like it’s going to be big everywhere and fight. I’ve already crunched the numbers and it sort of blew me away. 135,000 people a month, Google Spikeball. So he’s got a hit product on his hands go him. Now the Jonas Brothers Drake, Ryan Seacrest and a load of other sort of numerous pro sport teams and players. I’ve expressed their love for Spikeball and its appearance on Shark Tank was voted as one of the best episodes of all time, ESPN went as far to say Spikeball is mainstream and they know a few things. Now. Our guest today started the business in 2008 and ran it as a night job for five years while keeping his day job as an advertising executive. Now, five years after its founding, Spikeball hit 1 million in annual sales with zero Yes, zero full time employees. At that time our guests quit his day job and went full time I bet his wife is saying Yeah, come on, come on. We’re getting the money just do. That was one of the best days of his life and spike balls mission is to create the next global sport with tournaments appearing on ESPN whilst taking place all over the world. Now he lives in Chicago with his free kids and he’s fantastic wife. He’s on the board of igrow Chicago, and the company has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to help address gun violence the environment and education so Did he need to spend those five years as a side hustle business? Or was it simply a leap into the unknown that scared him? And how do you know that you’ve got a great product on your hands before you ever invest your own money into the business? Well, let’s find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Mr. Chris Ruder. Good morning, Chris, how are you?
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [2:23]
I’m fantastic. Thanks for having me.
David Ralph [2:25]
Hopping you on fantastic because you got hit brought out you’ve got a hit product. It’s, it’s one of the things I was just looking at it on YouTube. And I have a load of people that come on the show, and we had a guest a little while ago, you probably have heard of them. And they’ve got a sort of similar thing called cross net, which is like a volleyball game in four squares based on the Foursquare game that Oh, you Americans used to play when you were kids and I’d never heard and yours is one of those ones again. But as I said to the founder of fat, I could have come up This idea so it makes me wonder why did nobody come up with your idea because it looks great. It looks like something we could all have in our gardens. We can put it down at the park, we can have it at beaches. It goes in the back of our car, and it’s great fun. Why were you the genius that fought it?
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [3:16]
Well, I would love to say I am the genius that came up with it. But I’m the if we have to use the word genius, I’m the one that brought it back to life. So it was actually around when I was a kid. So Spikeball was launched in 1989 when I was like 14 years old. And one of my friends bought it at a toy store just kind of randomly brought it back to the neighbourhood. We started playing, we loved it. And then it said, from what little we understood, the company stopped making it in 1991. So it was only around for like two years or something like that. Why was
David Ralph [3:51]
that and have you delved into it now being Mr. Spikeball? Have you found the older Mr. granddad’s Spikeball sitting on his porch somewhere. Have you found him?
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [4:04]
Yeah, so we’ve spoken a handful of times. And he’s nice guy lives in Indiana. And I never really talked to him about sort of why it didn’t work. But my guess is I think they marketed it as like a kids game. And you do you need a decent amount, not a lot, but you need some hand eye coordination. So if you’re marketing it as like a toy or something like that, for like, maybe kids under the age of 10 or 11, then it you’re probably not going to have a whole lot of fun. But if you’re, you know, 10 1112 or older, then you know, it’s an absolute blast. So, you know, they also didn’t have this thing called the internet back in 1989. So very difficult to launch a product. Now of course, plenty of products were launched back then and did really well. So I’m not exactly sure why it didn’t work, but I just know that when we played we absolutely loved it. And What told us that other people might be into it? It’s like when we play strangers would walk up to us and just start asking about it. And they were naturally drawn to it. And that’s sort of, sort of had a light bulb go off in my head.
David Ralph [5:12]
Now, we’ve always beings I grew up in the 70s. I’m slightly younger than you older when you actually I think, What What year were you born? I was 1970.
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [5:23]
Yeah, I was born in 1975 75.
David Ralph [5:27]
So not that much different. And in the 70s, the games were crap. They were terrible. And I look back on some of them, and I think I just don’t know I remember Stretch Armstrong, do you remember Stretch Armstrong, but was just like this man that you could use a rubber guy? Yeah, just pulleys ohms. And that was it didn’t do anything. And all my games were rubbish. And the one that I used to love was swing ball. were used to plant a pole in the garden and used to bang it back and forth. And as I was talking to the cross net guy, I said it was brilliant when I was a kid. It was so well made. It really was it was metal. It was firm. You could really whack it. And now it’s just made out of plastic and it just falls to pieces. Was that something but you were aware with the development of Spikeball, because it looked quite solid when the guy was building it on the video that I watched. I thought to myself, this isn’t gonna go anywhere. This looks like a piece of work here.
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [6:23]
Yeah, so you know, when we launched, there was no other there’s nothing like it in the market. You know, now there’s, I don’t know, 20 or 30 cheaper knockoffs that you know, really don’t seem to be all that focused on quality. But even when we were the only one, I always wanted to position ourselves as a premium product and something that was higher end something that’s going to last and a lot of the way that we build the product and the company as a whole is just from my experiences being a consumer, what would I Chris router, like to buy? What would I how would I like to experience this? product and I’ve had the experience of when you buy something and it breaks, and you call and try to get it fixed and you get the runaround. Yeah. Or you know, it’s just a huge nightmare. So we offer replacement parts for free for life. So we design it so it won’t break. But of course, occasionally it does. And if it does, all you have to do is email us at help me at Spikeball COMM And we’ll ship you a replacement part for free. We’re not even going to ask you for a receipt or where you bought it or when you bought it. We just want to get you that replacement part. You know, we get people emailing us saying hey, my my friend landed on it and broke it. Can I buy a replacement part? And we say sorry, we actually don’t sell replacement parts. We only ship them for free. Can you please tell us your address? And people are dumbfounded at that. They’re like wait, I’m actually trying to offer you money. I’m trying to buy you a product and you’re actually refusing my money and you’re just gonna give it to me for Free?
David Ralph [8:01]
Yeah. Yeah, what clever markets, they’re gonna say to their mates. Wow, you never guess. And so you don’t just because it’s lifetime, you don’t just sell it to people over the age of 84. and stuff, it’s it is going to be something that the whole family can use
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [8:19]
adds to it. Absolutely. And by doing that lifetime, there is no better motivation for us then to design a really well built product. Because shipping those free sets, that’s the free parts that’s expensive, not only the part itself, but the postage and the customer service and all that. So if we design a really good product, we’re not going to have to ship that many parts. So it’s a great motivation that keeps us in check. As long as we know that that replacement part programme is in place. We need to make sure we’re not cutting any corners when designing it so you know it’s only the wet then the whole thing itself may only weighs about three pounds but it’s designed really well and You know, we could have made a really, really cheap one in the early days, and probably made a lot more money for a short time. But that’s no way to build a long standing business. You know, we want to be around for the long haul and we need to make long term decisions and again, just trying to look at it like if we were the consumer, how would we want to be treated? How would we want this product and you know, the product cost $60 us there’s a million other things people can buy with that money. How can we make the decision super easy when it is time to decide on us or any other product that they actually pick us so standing behind the product and making something that that we’re proud of? Hopefully makes that decision easier for people.
David Ralph [9:48]
So being a sort of evil person but I am Chris, I’m as he was saying this. I was thinking, well, you don’t even have to show a receipt. So how do you know the person’s bought it in the first place and then they know Just sort of phoning up and saying, I want a part because I know they’re gonna get it for nothing.
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [10:06]
HUD das is the woman that runs our customer service department, and she is very, very sharp. So there have been people that have tried and actually just got a note. It’s funny, I got a note from a woman on Twitter the other day saying, her kid and three or four other friends she learned their scheme and they’re like high school kids and another 15 or something, each kid decided to send a note to requesting a different replacement part. And when you put all those parts together, they would equal a complete set. And the mom sent us a note she was so disturbed by this but learning that her child and his friends were trying to take advantage of us. She wanted and we actually mailed a couple of the parts before we actually got wind of what we’re like we had awesome was able to put together sort of what was going on. She wanted like somehow for the kids to get into Trouble and she was really really upset. And I was like, you know, yes, I know they tried taking advantage of us. This is a probably a good good example or a good way for us to teach them a lesson. So if you want me the CEO of spike ball to write them a letter just expressing my disappointment, you know, I’m not gonna beat up on them. But you know, they do need to know that, you know, don’t take advantage of something just because you can. I know, Chris, I would, I would turn up did just just just with a couple of them in each hand, and just adjust them around a bit
David Ralph [11:33]
just smacking, smacking them around the head.
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [11:36]
Yeah, maybe a baseball bat or something just to really be intimidating. But, you
David Ralph [11:41]
know, I went with a net. I went with a couple of nets, but you’re actually going with a brain injury.
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [11:47]
Yeah, we got to teach him right. But people have tried doing it. And, you know, one of our values at Spikeball is trust until you shouldn’t. And I don’t I just feel that life is so much more Pleasant when you start with the trust rather than mistrust, and I think most companies start with mistrust and they’re like, Okay, how can we protect ourselves against all this bad stuff and all these what ifs? And, like, you know what, of course, some of the bad folks will win. But for the most part, I think all people, I think most people aren’t good. And when given the opportunity to do the wrong thing, I think most people will pass on that. Call me naive, but it’s been working so far.
David Ralph [12:30]
I like the way you’ve been Chris. I really do. It’s totally different. I think the world’s gonna screw me over until until they’re proved otherwise. And Jen, and generally I’m proved wrong. A lot of the time when my spidey senses are up. I know. I wish I was more like you, Chris. It’s a much nicer world to be. So let’s take you back in time. Okay, so you started the business back in 2000. It’s now 2020 and You ran it as a night job for five years now. Boy, why did you do that? If it was already out there and it was already designed and you knew it operated where where was that sort of spread, but you needed to do it? reprove those five years.
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [13:16]
Yeah, so when we launched it was completely dead like nobody in the world had heard of Spikeball, you know, it had been dead for I don’t know 15 plus years or something like that. So, and you know, we had to do a lot of work to redesign it, change the colours, make the construction better, you know, come up the website, the packaging and all that. So we, you know, me and my group of friends, it was me, my brother, my cousin and three or four childhood friends. We all chipped in to launch the company and we thought it would do well but none of us had any experience. starting a company none of us have experienced manufacturing. None of us had been in the sports industry. I have a degree in photo journalism. So that didn’t really serve me too well to start a company and, you know, go into business. So, you know, we raised a total of about $100,000. Between all of us. That was enough for us to sort of get off the ground build about 1000 Spikeball sets, get the website and everything and once we had paid the bills for all that there really wasn’t much money leftover. So I had a wife and a newborn at home and you know, a mortgage and responsibilities and bills to pay and I think it would have been very foolish of me to quit that job on day one and go full time Spikeball, because I had no idea if it was gonna work or not. And adding that sort of pressure. I think that would have forced me to make decisions much faster.
And they probably would have been foolish decisions because the goal there were would have slowly been to pay my bills, I have to I need short term money, I have to do this immediately. And I kind of liken that to, to, you know, companies that have venture capital, right. Once they accept that money, they’re essentially forced to spend that money as soon as possible. And they, they don’t have the luxury of time to actually make the right decision. Yeah. And thankfully, I had the day job, which still covered my bills. So I do the day job, I’d come home and hang out my wife and kids, they’d go to bed and then Spikeball work would begin. And I was able to take that slow and steady approach. Even though the approach was slow and steady, the sales growth wasn’t you know, we went from zero dollars in year one to 1,000,003 or something like that by year five, without a full time employee. You cannot jump
David Ralph [15:53]
into that. Because what interests me Why was he called spike ball before The original product. Yes. So it was kind of a dead product, but people kind of didn’t want Why did you keep it as Spikeball and not change it to something more creative? Like, I don’t know, bike ball that you drive around on your bike and you throw balls down or, or, or don’t make the ball for lesbians or whatever you could you could do anything you want.
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [16:24]
You know, a new net. We somebody else owned the URL, Spikeball calm. And that person had nothing to do with the original version. They didn’t even know that the original version existed. They just kind of liked the word. So when I learned that somebody else had the URL, I thought, alright, there’s no way we’ll get the URL, we have to have the.com name. So I spent a bunch of months trying to figure out even though I knew we could get the trademark for the name, Spike balls, like, Alright, we have to come up with something better. And I came up with absolutely nothing and was really frustrated and then I was like, Alright, fine. I’m going to And track down this person that owns the domain. I assumed they were one of those companies that you know, buys domains and then wants to sell them for tonnes of money. Yeah. That’s why I didn’t even bother reaching out to them originally. So I reached out and I expected it to be Yeah, like, I don’t know, I figured this guy would want five or $10,000. You know, I’m nowhere near that kind of money. And I call this guy and it turns out, he’s some like, just regular like guy that I think he lives in, like outside of Baltimore, in the suburbs, and I said, Yeah, you know, I understand you. I own Spikeball calm. And did you used to play the game? Or do you love it? And he’s like, No, he’s like, I didn’t even know it was a game. I just thought it was kind of a cool word. I thought my kids might want to make a website someday, but they’ve never done anything. So I was like, Oh, I was like, oh, would you be open to selling it? And he says, Sure. How much do you think and and I was like, oh my gosh.
David Ralph [17:55]
This moment, well, did you do your pie
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [18:00]
I did I had to give him the first number. And he said how much and I said, I don’t know, maybe like $100. And we had there was some silence there. And I was like, oh my gosh. And then he says, All right, sure.
David Ralph [18:15]
You should have gone 50 you should have been 50. Yeah. Your negotiation skills are shocking.
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [18:21]
What I did after he said, Yes, I didn’t want to express my excitement. So I said, All right, How about this? I’ll give you $50 now and then once you transfer it to me, I’ll give you the other $50
grace, you didn’t you get this
David Ralph [18:36]
this big speech about trusting and how naive you are. And this man you, you show?
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [18:44]
You’re so right.
David Ralph [18:47]
You are a charlatan and a fraudster Mr. Spikeball, and I’ve seen through you so so you go running back to your partners and you go, I’ve got it for $100 I’ve got it where they happy where they infused plastic was this like the when the business really started to become real?
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [19:05]
Yeah, that was big. And you know, we did that we filed for the trademark and you know what, from the time you file it and get it, I don’t know, it’s a couple months or something like that. And when we got it that we actually launched before we had the trademark because, you know, we said, You know what, we’re just going to go for it. Hopefully we get it, we’ll see. But, and we got it. And you know, the guys were involved with the business for the first couple months, but then we kind of realised they wanted to be like silent shareholders. So I kind of I became sort of the lone person actually working on the day to day business. And yeah, that in June of 2008, we flipped the switch on Spikeball comm and went live we had a party down at the beach here in Chicago with friends and family and we were officially in business.
David Ralph [19:48]
Let’s play some words and we’ll be back with Chris
Jim Carrey [19:51]
my father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him. And so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an account. And when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job. And our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
David Ralph [20:17]
Now, I always love this moment when somebody takes a risk on something and it quite obviously is your baby. Now it’s a passion project. But at the same time at the beginning, like Jim Carrey was saying he might as well go for what you love. More often than not people don’t go for what they love because they don’t know that they’re gonna love it. It’s just a business opportunity. It’s something that they can see potential in. When did it really start to become sexy to you and you’ve bought yourself this is going to be a life changing thing for me.
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [20:49]
When we launched it, I I never realised I remember talking to my brother and thinking like if Spikeball really made it big like big to me, was it If someday it was big enough where it would be able to pay for like a vacation for me and my family. Never did I think that it would be big enough where it could employ me and me alone full time. You know, I’d been working in like corporate advertising world for 1012 years, so I was making pretty good money and I worked for Microsoft for a while and great benefits the whole thing and never did I think Spikeball would be big enough where it could come even close to compensating me to what I had been used to. So I was like, you know, this will always be kind of a fun project. Yeah, my brother’s like, yeah, wouldn’t it be cool if maybe 20 years from now that it gets to be big enough that were maybe our kids could maybe one day work for the company. And
David Ralph [21:41]
when he was getting in, he didn’t want anything to do with it. And then suddenly the kitchen was going and he started coming around and washing your car and mowing your lawn and just being more friendly than he used to be.
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [21:56]
Exactly. I’d love if that were the case, but My car’s still pretty dirty. He doesn’t come around that much. But maybe someday, but yeah, in those early days, I didn’t think it could actually become that big. But the one thing that actually was very energising, it wasn’t necessarily the, you know, one day I’ll make a million dollars sort of thing, which, you know, of course, that’d be nice. And you know, but that was not the motivator, a big motivator was that I was working, but I was actually the one in control. I was the one actually making decisions, I got to decide what we were going to do, how we’re going to do it when we’re going to do it. And those were all very foreign things to me at my day job. You know what the day job I was essentially handed a playbook and said, please go execute this. I was told what to do. And I think that’s kind of how a lot of people’s jobs go. And that’s why people don’t really like their jobs. I don’t think it’s really the type of work that you need to excite you. I think it’s how you work and if you actually are if the boss comes in and says, Hey, I’d like your opinion on this or how do you think We should do this, that’s a really nice feeling right? That that that means they value you. They really want to know your take on how you should do things. And I think that’s a very foreign thing. And you know, I didn’t experience that much at my day job. So when I had when I was doing my night job, and I actually got to make these decisions. That was, it was just a really, really nice feeling to see is when
David Ralph [23:24]
they were idiots. And I look back on it, and I remember thinking to myself, and my big thing was, I, I could do my job better than anybody else. And I’m not just being cocky. I’d done it for a long time. And then you’d get some young child that would come in who I don’t know how I got a promotion above me, but hey, it happens. And they’ve been telling me how to do the job but they couldn’t do anyway. And that that used to drive me mental Chris I could. I could never go back to corporate land. I think. I look at my managers and if I’ve had 30 managers in my career, I reckon two of them I look back with fond memory and all the rest of them were idiots.
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [24:06]
I’m about the same with you there. And you know I don’t want to totally rag on the corporate job it’s right for some people and obviously people can do very well you can make a lot of money and all that but for the way that for what I value in what I like it was it was just not a good fit. And yeah, actually, one of my former bosses now works at spike ball, the one that actually liked so it’s very happy to be able to reunite with him and work with him some more. So
David Ralph [24:32]
I tell you what, you need to hire somebody called Mike ball. That would be good when it mike mike ball from spike ball. If there’s somebody out there and they’re looking for a job can I apply because I think this will be genius marketing, like they used to have Ronald McDonald wherever has was one of McDonald’s and even further back there was hamburglar in all these sort of characters when they’re all gone, it just dawned on me. I haven’t seen him for years, but you You can have Mike ball from Spikeball, and he goes around to all the events. It’d be brilliant when that
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [25:06]
I love that we will absolutely Fast Track Mike through the recruiting process. And Mike, if you’re out there, please call me.
David Ralph [25:14]
Yeah, that’s not a well, and you kind of trust him now. He started off as honest, Ben, he’s gone the other way. So we don’t know what type of Chris, Chris, you’re gonna get in this job application, but I’m sure it’s going to be. I’m sure it’s going to be good. We will be back with Chris after these words.
Unknown Speaker [25:32]
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David Ralph [27:03]
So if you would love to become my next success story and have your own life changing online business following my step by step system, fine tuned over many years to take away the effort and expense that others struggle with, then come across to Join Up dots.com and book a free call with myself. Let’s get you living the easy life as it’s there waiting for you to get it that is Join Up dots.com business coaching. Okay, we’re talking to Chris Ruda from Spikeball. And so far we’ve been talking about the early the early history of spite but when of course, we haven’t really touched on what it is. So number one, for the people out there describe it because as I say, I was watching a YouTube video and I thought, This is good. This is good. I could play indoors on a rainy day I could play it outside. Tell us about how it is.
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [27:56]
YouTube is absolutely the best place to go to to Learn about it so I will explain it but I’m gonna offer the disclaimer that hearing it and words can just confuse it may confuse people even more but it a lot I’ve heard a lot of people call it Oh, Spike ball. That’s that weird trampoline game that I saw on the beach. So if you have seen a weird trampoline game on the beach, it is spike ball. And the rules are very similar to to on to volleyball. So with to move on to volleyball, you know, the goal is to hit the ball over the net, and each side has up to three hits between the two players before they have to hit it over the net. If you can’t get it back over the net, the other team gets a point. Now a spike ball. The net actually is what looks like a small trampoline. You know it’s maybe six, seven inches off the ground, about 36 inches or three feet wide. And you have a an inflatable rubber ball that’s about the size of an orange and you serve the ball by spiking it hitting it off the net towards your opponent. Now you’re opponents have up to three hits between the two of them before they have to spike it back on the net. And the two teams keep volleying back and forth. And if you cannot get the ball back onto the net, the other team gets a point. Now the main thing is the main difference between it and volleyball, there are no boundaries, so all four players can run wherever they want. So that usually means there’s gonna be a lot of running, jumping diving. It’s a really good workout. We’ve actually got a lot of professional athletes that are using it as a trading tool. But do yourself a favour just google Spikeball? Check out a video and it’ll make a lot more sense.
David Ralph [29:38]
We will have the link on the show notes to make it as easy as possible. But it was one of those things that I looked at as I referenced right at the very beginning, and I thought to myself, I could have done this. Now. The whole world is full of people coming up with brilliant ideas and one of the ones that I used to talk about all the time on the show, and I used to say, wouldn’t it be brilliant to have a See through toaster, but you could just see when you breads brown and then press the button and it comes out perfectly. And now it’s out there because one of the listeners has told me and the other one was a doovy. But instead of you trying to climb in from the bottom, you just open it up like a sort of a heater on two sides and then just laying flat and been zipped out both sides. Once again, it’s out there. Now, how do you get it out there? If the world is all coming up with the same ideas at the same time? When you had Spikeball Did you think oh my god, oh my god, I’ve got to get it out there because somebody else is gonna come out with you know, as I say dike bow, and it’s gonna be very, very similar and they’re gonna get the mic in the market share.
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [30:40]
I think we got lucky in that. What we did once we had the idea, we did what most people do, which is nothing. We just thought about it for a couple of years. And we started sentences with no
David Ralph [30:56]
brilliant as a marketing genius.
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [31:01]
I mean, think about it you How long did you have that toaster idea? I’m assuming a long, long time and you did nothing. And you eventually found out. So we had the idea. We did nothing. And after a couple years of just talking about it, I finally got sick of it and say, guys, I’m talking to some attorneys. And we’re I’m actually going to see if we can do this. And as we were going through the trademark process, we learned that some other guy, not the inventor, but just some other random guy. He had started the trademark application process like two or three years, but before we did, but he gave up on it for some reason, he didn’t complete the application. And he was just like us. I got a note from him, like a couple years after we started, and he said, You know, I used to play back in 1989 as well. I loved it so much. I wanted to bring it back to life. And yeah, I started the trademark thing but I never really got around and never finished it and like oh my god did we get lucky so It’s just taking that first step. We all have amazing ideas. But I think it’s very few of us that actually take action. And it’s that action part you might fail if you fail, that’s okay. But you got to try.
David Ralph [32:15]
Now, when you look back on it now, because I’m gonna reference Join Up Dots, you’re gonna hit podcast, Chris, you’re gonna hit podcast, and I can’t really remember it starting it, I look back on it, and it was just like it was suddenly here. You know, I don’t remember buying the URL. I don’t remember. Hardly anything really. But it was just here is is that the same we’ve split, but when you look at it now, do you remember all sort of the nuances or is it like the second child, but you actually don’t remember going to the scan or making anything for them or happy and there’s no photos of him or anything that you’ve just kind of want to
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [32:59]
have We do not have many photos or videos, which really bums me out. Like I’m shocked to see like, you know, if you look back in the early days of like Apple or Google or any of those, like they have tonnes of photos. Yeah. And you know, they were just a couple guys in an apartment, whatever, like what made them think to take so many pictures and that was before digital cameras and all that and like, so we don’t have much of that. In general, my memory is terrible, but for some reason, my memory around the early days of Spikeball is pretty good. And you know, thankfully, occasionally, I’ve still got you know, I don’t delete emails, so I’ve got emails going back years, so occasionally, if I’m bored, I’ll go back and read emails from 2008 2010 and just kind of get a feel for what’s going on.
David Ralph [33:43]
Oh, gee, you must be really bored. Oh, well, why?
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [33:46]
Why very, very bored.
David Ralph [33:48]
Yeah, who wants to do that?
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [33:50]
I think in general, I can be a fairly sentimental person. So I do love kind of going down memory lane and just seeing like, you know, what, what what how things used To be you know, whenever we have a new employee starts, I walk them through a presentation I call the history of Spikeball. And it tells the entire story. It’s got, you know, graphs of our revenue and old with a few photos that we have are in it. I love talking about that kind of stuff. And just, you know, if somebody asked me a question about Spikeball, I could, I’ll give them usually a one minute answer. But if they’re patient, I’d love to give them the 45 minute answer cuz I love it. Yeah, but
David Ralph [34:30]
actually oppression, isn’t it. That’s your passion coming out, you know, if you can to remember Steve Jobs, Steve Jobs created Join Up Dots in a roundabout way. And we were hearing about the end of the show. And I remember him saying, but there’s no reason for a PowerPoint, if you know your subject, and I came from training backgrounds, and I used to stand there, and I hardly use PowerPoint at all because I just knew the subject and I could just talk and stuff. And you’re the same you could do it. TEDx talk now. And Ben just go up on stage and then bash it out. 45 minutes of spike. Have you done that? Have you done a TEDx talk?
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [35:10]
I have not done any TED Talks. Get to the closest thing was the Shark Tank presentation. You know, there was no No, no PowerPoint with that. I was just, you know, I was in front of the sharks for about 45 minutes, but only about 10 minutes of it actually was aired. But yeah, I mean, to that point at my corporate jobs. Every time I had a presentation, literally every time I used a PowerPoint, and I was required to and sometimes I wasn’t required to I wasn’t even allowed to use one that I made. I had to use the one that had been blessed by the bosses. And I that was my crutch and there was no passion whatsoever. Spikeball, I could do you know, you could wake me up at three in the morning and say, Chris, we need you to go on in 30 seconds. Boom, I’m ready to go. It’s something I’m passionate about. And I can I think transfer that passion to other people. Get that I’m excited about it. And you know if it’s fake people will know and Spikeball is something that has just brought a level of passion and excitement in my life that I just I just didn’t have before.
David Ralph [36:12]
And did you get the investment off of the sharks? Because over here, we’ve got Dragon’s Den, and I never watch it, because it’s just a load of rich people getting richer on other people. And when I was in America, we were driving through America, as we do often with the family. My daughter got obsessed with Shark Tank, and she particularly got obsessed with. There’s the bald guy, Mr. Sexy or Mr.
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [36:39]
What is your wonderful Mr. Wonderful, yes.
David Ralph [36:41]
And she got obsessed with him. And I disliked him massively. I disliked it. And I always thought that I if I went on Shark Tank and I did the pitch, as soon as I started saying, Yes, I will give you 15% I’d go well, that proves it’s a good idea. I’ll add this myself and walk out and Just use it as a sense check. So why did you go on to Shark Tank? What were you looking for? And did you get it?
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [37:07]
I was looking for. I wanted to get a deal with Mark Cuban. And the guest shark on the on that on our episode was the founder and GoPro. I’m sorry, founder and CEO of GoPro GoPro camera. So the two of them are self made billionaires. They’re both in the sports industry, both heavy into technology. I thought that was just my dream team, I could get the two of them. And I didn’t necessarily need or want their money. I wanted to be able to pick up the phone and call them and ask them for some advice or just kind of get some guidance on how to build a brand. So that was the plan going into it.
Both of them went out rather quick. But the good news is actually Mark Hughes Been a few times. You know, we were on back in 2015. So five years ago. Two days ago, Mark Cuban was interviewed on ESPN Radio, and they asked him Hey, of all the deals that you did not do on Shark Tank, what’s the one that got away? What’s the one that you wish you would have done? And he said Spikeball. So that felt very good. He said, he sees it on the beaches all over the place. And I’ve swapped emails with him a couple times since the show and you know, he’s been very supportive and seems like a super nice guy, but we wound up doing a deal with daymond. JOHN on the show. Mr. Wonderful did make an offer. He was actually I agree with you. You can be pretty mean on the show normally, but he was actually very nice to me. He called me articulate and was very complimentary of everything I had built. But we did a deal with daymond john on the show, but in real life, the deal actually never happened. So he wanted to take the company a different direction. I wanted to keep doing what we were doing. And we never really agreed. So it never happened. And, and that’s fine. You know, we didn’t necessarily need the money. It would have been nice to have. But you know, we did get 8 million people in the US watching on that Friday night and reruns keep happening, you know, their reruns are actually happening all throughout Europe now. We got emails, this is about a year ago, we got emails from five different retailers in Norway in one day saying they all want to carry our product. And it’s normal for us to get emails like that from all over the world. But five in one day from Norway was really bizarre. And it turns out Shark Tank had aired in Norway the night before. And they all heard that was the first time they’d heard of it and reached out and said, We want to carry your product. So it’s this gift that just keeps giving, which is just fantastic. The reruns all happening all over the place. So yeah, it was a great experience, and I was hoping I’d get the expertise of The two gentlemen I didn’t but I do it again in a heartbeat. It was it was fantastic for business.
David Ralph [40:05]
Yeah, as you know, in a different level in a different sort of media, but podcasts are exactly the same thing. They’re not like a radio show, but just comes and goes. They’ll be here for as long as I’m here. So 20 years time down the line when I’m an old man, Chris. People could still be looking for spiteful and that you’ll still get emails from Mike bow asking for a job. He is never gonna stop for you. So what is your big dream now? Is your dream world domination you’ve gone past? Let’s have a vacation and Won’t it be nice to be paid for it? You’re now full time you’ve now got employees what is the big dream now?
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [40:47]
So world domination or the mission of the company is to create the next great global sport. In order to be a sport. We need formal competition. We need rules we need, you know all sorts of infrastructure to be legitimate. So we’ve had national championships in the US for years now. So we have, you know, dozens of tournaments happening in the US every year. That’s happening in the UK. It’s happening all throughout Europe, South America, Australia. We’re hosting our first ever World Championship tournament in Belgium at the end of August, early September. And is it gonna be
David Ralph [41:25]
a big win a World Championship or just like the Americans? Do they only invite the Americans, it can actually be a World Series that other countries get involved in?
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [41:36]
Absolutely. So as of right now, I think there’s almost 20 countries that have registered to compete. And it’s going to be you know, the Americans have been playing the longest. I do think that we do have the highest calibre of players, but it’s not by a longshot. I think there will be some fantastic matches there. And yeah, it’s been interesting to see like, there’s been like, Last year I think the EU national champ or the EU championships were in Cologne I believe in Germany. There’s there supposed to be a bunch of tournaments in Ireland happening this spring. But you know, all the tournaments are getting cancelled due to COVID-19. So we’re hoping that worlds happens but that’ll be a major step in in making this a true global sport.
David Ralph [42:24]
I’ll tell you why. I think there’s no doubt with the momentum you’ve got and the interest around the world. I think it’s only a matter of time. And it’s good. You know, if synchronised swimming can be a bloody sport, then yours of yours. That’s just drowning slowly. Yours is a is a proper sport.
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [42:45]
I appreciate that. There’s plenty of Yeah, whether they be Olympic sports or some like here in Illinois bass fishing is an official sport in high schools and not to take away anything from bass fishing. But if they can do it, I think we can do it. So I’m looking forward to seeing what might happen
David Ralph [43:07]
make it happen,
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [43:09]
as well. And absolutely.
David Ralph [43:10]
I’m wondering how they get enough bass in high school? I don’t really do that.
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [43:17]
Great question. I have absolutely no idea.
David Ralph [43:21]
You see, that’s why I’m a podcast host, I asked the questions that we need to know the answers on. Well, this isn’t the part of the show that we’ve been leading up to. And this is the part called the Sermon on the mic, when we’re going to send you back in time to have a one on one with your younger self. And if you could speak to the young Chris, what age would you choose and what advice would you just love to give him? Well, we’re gonna find out because we’re going to play the music and when it fades, is your time to talk. This is the Sermon on the mic
Unknown Speaker [43:56]
with the best bit of the show Sir,
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [44:13]
I would like to speak to the 24 year old Chris router and let him know number one, he’s not as cool as he thinks he is. I’d encourage him to do more and plan less, you know, kind of get just getting stuck forever in the planning or thinking phase and not doing as much when he is looking for jobs, to focus more on the culture, and the way in which the work is done rather than the brand name of the company or how you know, maybe what the overall level of pay is. The 44 year old version of Chris ruder when he was older what younger and looking for jobs. The pay was Kind of deleting factor in the jobs and while it paid well it did not make him happy. So just try and smile more. I think I can tend to be a bit more especially when I was younger can just be lit a little take myself a little too seriously. So when a spike balls values is have fun and 24 year old Chris focus on that a little bit more as well. Yeah.
David Ralph [45:24]
And when you become a multimillionaire A few years later, just just enjoy it because it’s, it’s a game, isn’t it? Life is a game and that’s something that I’m I’m big on now. But yeah, you have bad days. You have Bad Moms, you have bad years, but ultimately, it’s just being here, isn’t it? That’s the only reason we’re here. Really?
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [45:44]
David Ralph [45:47]
You don’t sound wise there Chris. Were you surprised by my wisdom that came out at that very last minute.
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [45:53]
The showering of wisdom was welcome. I loved it and not surprising in the least bit to what I expected. bactrim you
David Ralph [46:01]
know, so coming with us. So coming. What’s the number one best way that our audience can connect with you?
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [46:08]
On Twitter Spikeball, Chris. Ch ri s. And,
David Ralph [46:14]
yeah, that’s probably the best place. We will have all the links for everything to do with Spikeball on the show notes. Chris, thank you so much for spending time with us today. joining up those dots. And please come back again when you’ve got more dots to join up because I do believe that by joining up the dots and connecting our past is the best way to build our futures. Chris, thank you so much.
Chris Ruder From SPIKEBALL [46:33]
Thank you so much. David has a lot of fun.
David Ralph [46:37]
So Spikeball, it was a product that he loved. It kind of died a death but he thought he could bring it back and well, he has bought it back. It is big everywhere. It really astonished me. I get a lot of people pitch to come on the show. And once you actually start delving into it, you realise Oh, my god this this is a big, big thing. Almost fairly Simple, there’s not a lot to it. But it’s a great thing to play keeps your fit. It’s a bit of fun with your family. And of course, you can lock it in the back of the car and take it with you. Wherever you go. And it’s lifetime, it’s lifetime. If your parts go wrong, you just phone up and get another bit brilliant. That’s what we like. Until next time, as always, thank you for being here. I should say something a bit better at the end of the shows. I think they’re they’re quite good shows. And at the end, I always say thank you very much for being here. But I do appreciate everybody that drops us a line and you know, changing their life and following up with the the Join Up Dots Mantra. It all starts with you. Until next time, see you again. Look at yourself