About this project
It's the last throw of the game. You take a deep breath and launch your bag into the air. It's in the hole, that crowd goes wild, you are the cornhole champion of the world! Well at least for this tailgate or cookout you are.
CornHoller™ is a battery operated device that attaches underneath cornhole boards. It senses bags and emits one of 7 unique crowd cheering sounds when they go into the hole. The sounds are: "3 Points", "It's in the Hole", "Swish", "Nice Bag", "Great Shot", "Cha-Ching", and Cheering Crowd Applause. People are instantly drawn to these devices. They are amazed by how cool they are and how much fun and emotion they bring to the game.
CornHoller™ really adds to the overall feel of the game and transforms a normally passive game into a crowd thrilling display of dexterity and hand-eye coordination.
The device has a short wire and a small LED light that allows the CornHoller™ to function great in any light conditions. At night, the light also helps light the hole a bit, making it easier to see. The device and it's components come with installation instructions and can be installed on most wooden boards in minutes. CornHoller™ may not work on all cornhole boards, but we have found it works on all the traditional wooden boards. If you have a plastic board or a wood composite setup, you may use other means of attachment such as poster tape, tape strips, or Velcro.
The device comes with everything you need to get going except 3 AA batteries.
How did it all come about?
It started with an idea...so I asked my brother-in-law "Hey Ben, wouldn't it be cool if there was an invention that would sense your cornhole bag and make cheers when it went in the hole?" He said "ya that would be cool". So asked my dad, he agreed, that would be pretty cool. Most people, at that point would have enjoyed the rest of the meal and then went about their lives, but I didn't. I was on a mission. I searched high and low and there was no such device. So I researched the current cornhole accessories on the market and determined the viability of my idea. I then started to contact manufacturing companies that made speakers, sensors, molds, plastics, home security devices, and electrical engineers, friends, and a few patent attorneys.
My patent attorney and I determined there was nothing like this out there and that I needed to develop my idea. After a few weeks of looking for hours a day I finally found a company that agreed to work with me on my tight budget. Einstein said "if he had 1 hour to save the world he would spend 55 minutes defining the problem and the last 5 minutes finding the solution." I felt like once I could figure out who would be the best company to make this and then actually find them, the rest was achievable. So my "55 minutes" was doing just that. The company I found is amazing and they were able to take my drawings and my ideas and make them into a working prototype.
Imagine 3 products you know, a greeting card with a speaker box that sings when you open it, a security device that senses when someone passes by/a garage door safety sensor, and a battery pack. This was basically my pitch. I downloaded an app to my phone and recorded myself saying some cheers and sent them to the company to put onto the device.
They made some molds with the screw holes for mounting and hooked up the speaker to the other electronics and shipped them to me. The first ones had some opportunities and we worked out the kinks and did weeks of testing here at my house and there at the manufacturer. The engineers and I went through several types of lights and sensor setups until we found the perfect combination to give us the cheers every time the bag went into the hole. I would even Skype at times and email videos back and forth showing how I wanted things to function and how they where making them right or wrong.
I purchased and tested several home security device sensors, LED lights, power sources, garage door sensors, and even tested which sensors were best for this application by going as far as to heat up cornhole bags in the microwave, take their temperatures, and toss them in front of PIR's (passive infrared sensors that detect heat) to see if the human hand generated enough heat to transfer to the bag to trigger one! It worked, but they needed to be real hot, and microwaving your bags between tosses was not an option, so I moved on to testing other sensors!
While we were working on prototypes, lumens, testing sensor type and positioning, cord length, screw size, pricing, design, power, speaker decibel level (it's under a wooden box and needs to be loud to hear!), etc... I was working with a local graphic artist to design the logo and the packaging. I also purchased some web design software and developed the website myself.
One funny story here was when the artist designing the back of the package asked me if I had the UPC (bar code) that I wanted him to put on the package. I said "just get one online". I thought he could just print one up or download it. It turns out, they are really expensive and you can't just create one since they are part of a huge integrated system. You can buy them used though, and I did!
We setup an LLC, got our EIN, setup bank accounts, shopping carts, and merchant services to accept online credit cards.
I researched product liability insurance (and will bind a policy in Oct.), US consumer protection law and requirements and prepared for packaging. I would go to random stores and look at the electronics to see what warnings they had on the packages and then look them up online to find out why. I now understand all those hieroglyphics.
My buddy Dennis and I co-authored a book in our teens called The Words that Constitute Big Fun, so I knew he was a great resource for asking what the device should "holler". He gave me some great ideas and some of them appear in the final product.
I filed a patent and our patent attorney liked the name so much she said she did a preliminary trademark search and the name was available. We invested in the rights to the name and the logo as well as the patent.
I spent 2 days filming a KS video and it was really bad, so I posted an ad on craigslist and had someone film one instead. I wrote several scripts and the end result was a hybrid of many.
I have in my hand: a patent pending, 2 trademarks, the 7 audio files, the logo file for the sticker that will go on the battery slide of the product, the front and back packaging graphics and an agreement between my manufacturer with a negotiated price per unit and a minimum order. I just need to raise $6,000 to fund the order. I will be sending all the files to them before this even goes live as he and I agreed I would so he could have it all ready for production. They will make, package the device for me, and ship.
I will receive the units in 3 weeks after this funds. I trust the timeline and the manufacturer since every time so far they have delivered 8 working prototypes on time and at our agreed upon pricing. There where times where I would talk to them 10 times a day for 2 months straight. We got so close with one another we would end late calls with a "good night, you need to get some sleep!" I trust them, they will deliver.
We will ship out all the rewards we owe the contributors and then sell the remaining inventory on our website. We are also already working with online retailers to carry our device. We have pricing structures worked out for retail and wholesale. Our manufacturer can handle way more than we will order for a while, so we will never be restricted by their capacity to produce. We hope to grow a bit each order so next order may be $8,000 then $10,000 and so on.
Now I am preparing for this launch and the press releases I will send out. I have the release written and I will send it to a hundred or more media outlets and hope someone finds all this interesting enough to write about to drive pledges.
PS: My wife and I have had some long conversations over the first few months about this project and me spending lots of our hard earned money on an idea and a dream. She is a conservative realist and I am an entrepreneurial dreamer. Many of those talks ended in me saying "if you can wake up tomorrow and honestly say, you don't think this is a great idea, I will scrap it and be done with it". Each time she said "I honestly believe it is a really great idea". So we decide to push on and keep this going. If she can support it hopefully so can you!!
Risks and challenges
My wife and I have personally funded every aspect of this project up until this kickstarter.com launch. From patents, trademarks, design, packaging, layouts, recordings, web design/development, attorney fees, licenses, content, prototypes, beta testing, etc. The reason I am now asking for help with my project is that I now need to place my first order from my manufacturer. I need to raise $6,000 in order to do that and with two small children at home and a very modest nest egg we can't afford that risk alone. I have been working with the same manufacturing company for 4 months now and they have provided every prototype I have asked for (8) so far. I feel very confident we have finally made the best device we can and I know they will deliver on time and with quality. They have a great track record with me and have proven themselves to be a great partner in the project (thank you Michael!). I need to raise $6,000 to meet the requirement to place my first order so that they will produce the CornHoller™.
I feel like I have done all the ground work to ensure a successful start and future of CornHoller™ and now this dream is $6,000 and a phone call away from being in production. They are literally waiting for my call to produce the CornHoller™. They have all the artwork for the packaging, instructions, audio files, product specs, blister molds, logo stickers, shipping info, etc. I just need to raise the money, pick up the phone and say "we have the money, go ahead and make them"!
I have already confirmed the lead time on production and I will receive the units in approx. 3 weeks after I place the initial order. So the timeline looks like this:
kickstarter.com launch: Oct 1st
kickstarter.com ends: Oct 30th
When fully funded I will place my initial order November 1st
I will have my CornHoller™ devices by November 21st
You will have your CornHoller™ devices by the end of November or the first week of December.
I have all my shipping logistics worked out our website will be completed by Oct. 1st. We will post updates at www.cornholler.com as well as kickstarter.com and our facebook page.
Special thanks to my beautiful and loving wife for supporting me and this project. (this is the rewards and challenges portion and it has been both, let's hope the project can continue! I love you!)
Thank you for reading and helping us bring CornHoller to as many people as we can.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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