Friday, August 10, 2007

How To Make Money With A Ball. A Thumball That Is.

Mary Pembleton bolted upright in bed with a grand vision.

For some time, she had been using a soft mini soccer ball with words on each panel in her special needs classes in Haddon Township elementary schools.

Why, she wondered aloud to her husband, Gregg, couldn’t that invention be taken to the masses, not only as an educational tool, but as a marketing device?

It took a year to patent the idea, form a company called Answers In Motion, then several months to find a manufacturer and attend toy conventions before Thumball came to fruition. The Maple Shade couple took out a home equity loan to get things started.

The concept of the colorful Thumball is simple.

In the educational versions, each panel is imprinted with a word, picture or phrase. Players toss the ball, look under their thumb, and answer the question, identify the picture or list a category.

They’ve sold about 50,000 of the balls, mostly through their Web site, since the first shipment last September. It’s also been featured on a Philadelphia television station and they got to ask a question and show their product on a recent CNBC episode of “The Big Idea With Donny Deutsch.”

World's 10 Best Paid Bloggers

Antiques dealer finds 19th-century children's publications headed for the trash