KickerBall is a new release that enables users to practice kicking trick shots like a pro! Each KickerBall includes a set of directions that will help players curve and swerve in no-time, making this soccer toy an amazing gift for any sports fan! KickerBall is the only ball that lets you bend and curve with ease. Recently, Anand Dhirmalani, the President and CEO of Intersell, discussed this product via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you discover your love for toys and how did you break into business?
Anand Dhirmalani (AD): I used to be a lawyer but wanted to do something entrepreneurial so worked at a company that developed and marketed a variety of products that they sold on TV, online and through retail. Straight away I really enjoyed the process of launching a product and soon after started Intersell in 2007. Today we consider ourselves the real “shark tank” as we routinely invent and license products and then operate the businesses. One of our first big hits was a product called Swerve Ball-a reinvention of wiffle ball. That was very successful and then we tried to find the next big thing – but for Soccer (the biggest sport in the world): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKZgVLPVl94
MM: How did you get the idea for KickerBall?
AD: As a follow up to swerve ball we spoke to lots of product engineers including an MIT scientist on how we could develop a soccer ball that you could “bend like Beckham” but ultimately we could not find the right solution after many attempts. We even considered a soccer ball with flaps which worked well but looked too funny and would not roll very well. Finally, we met an inventor who appreciated our success with swerve ball and brought us the KickerBall. We licensed the product from him and have paid him in excess of $250K in royalties and counting!
MM: The texture is so unique so how did you find it?
AD: KickerBall uses a foam exterior so it is super soft and light. It is easy to kick and never hurts to kick or to perform a header. And, of course, KickerBall is fun because it swerves and curves like no other soccer ball out there…we think of it as the “wiffle ball” of soccer, but real soccer afficionados love playing with KickerBall. There are almost 500 million views of KickerBall on youtube and some of the most famous freestylers and soccer players in the world have used it in videos- including Lionel Messi. The video below has almost 30 million views! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQ9lYuYyzok&t=55s
MM: Why did you decide to make the colors you did?
AD: We chose orange because it was bright and fun- and had a similar color combination to Swerve Ball.
MM: How long did they take to design?
AD: It took about two years to identify the right ball- design and develop it– getting the right weight, material and internal bladder which holds the air was really important. A lot of trial and error.
MM: What has been the most memorable part of your job as a toy designer?
AD: The most memorable and gratifying moment was to get THE GRAB sold at Wal Mart for my nephew, Ashton: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=910234332951290&ref=sharing
MM: What other products have you been part of?
AD: I have developed and designed more than 100 products in my career. KickerBall is my favorite product of all time but we’ve also developed the Sidesleeper Pro (a pillow for Sidesleepers); Skinny Stacks (a storage container system); Bright Eyes Blanket (a wearable blanket for kids). Internationally we sold some really big hits including the Snuggie. Remember that one? And in early 2012- I helped launch Peloton (a connected fitness bike) – and that has been quite an exciting 10-year ride!
MM: What are your ultimate career goals?
AD: My ultimate career goal is to build a big community around Incredible Inventions -which is an invention platform that was inspired by nephew Ashton. We have started to invest a lot of money and time in it and we are hopeful we can develop some great products, work with some talented inventors, pay some meaningful royalties and contribute a portion of the proceeds to some worthy causes as we did with the GRAB!
MM: What is coming up next for you and is there anything else that you would like to mention?
AD: Please check out Incredible Inventions! It is just starting but we will be producing a lot of products and content around it!