July 2007 | Vol. VI - No. 7
Blongo Family Fun Brings Families Together
Slinging BlongoBalls Led Siblings to Success
“We come from a large family; there are nine of us,” Long told TDmonthly Magazine. “And Mike had come up with a game that all of us could play — regardless of age or physical ability. It’s the ultimate family reunion game.”
The concept was simple: Two balls connected by a thin rope are tossed toward a rack. Wrapping the string around the rack’s cross-bars earns the player points.
Armed with Mike’s background in engineering and Linda’s knowledge of marketing, the two set out to fill a niche — providing families of all sizes with a fun, relaxing way to get outside, get some fresh air, and spend more time together. They worked for over a year, finally winning a patent for their game in 2004.
A SHORTAGE OF TIME AND MONEY
Long recalled that one of the biggest obstacles early on was developing a workable marketing plan. “We had to completely revamp it about six months in,” she said.
Also daunting was the sheer cost of developing an effective prototype, especially since they were funding the work themselves.
“I think a lot of entrepreneurs vastly underestimate the amount of time and money that has to go into building a prototype,” she told TDmonthly. “Eventually, though, we were able to establish a line of credit and a really solid business plan. From there, we broke our budget up into six categories and determined how much money we’d allocate to each. Right now, our primary focus is on the category of games and toys.”
DOING THE FOOTWORK
Long told TDmonthly she credits the company’s involvement in trade shows, membership in professional organizations such as the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, and good old-fashioned hard work with getting Blongo Family Fun to the level of success it enjoys today.
“There is no magic to success,” she said. “You just have to be out there, following up on leads, demonstrating your product, and putting your all into it if you want it to work.”
Another important element of Blongo Family Fun’s success has been their decision to produce BlongoBall overseas, where the cost of manufacturing is significantly lower.
“I wish there was a way to stay competitive and still manufacture in the U.S.,” Long told TDmonthly. “Unfortunately that’s just not the case. We’ve been very fortunate to have partnered with excellent manufacturers overseas, and they have helped us to grow.”
KEEPING IT FUN
Long has settled happily into the role of toy maker, thrilled that her professional life has taken this exciting turn.
“I’m so grateful to have this opportunity,” she explained. “I’m not only a part of an industry that I love, but I’m [also] a part of bringing fun and an appreciation for the outdoors into families’ lives. Our company is called Blongo Family Fun for a reason; fun is the whole point!”
Here’s some of the Blongo Family Fun that Long and her company now offer:
BlongoBall by BLONGO FAMILY FUN
Other products from BLONGO FAMILY FUN
BlongoBall is a great family game on the beach, at a picnic, on a camping trip, indoors or outdoors. Toss the unique BlongoBalls and wrap them around a horizontal bar to score points. Fun for all ages and skill levels. BlongoBall is easy to learn, exciting to play and will be enjoyed by the entire family for years to come. This Toss It, Wrap It and ScoreGame consists of two BlonGoals (racks) and two sets of BlongoBalls (yellow and orange) — enough for two players or two teams. Each of the two goals is 24”W x 26 ½”L x 39 ½”H and made of PVC. Ball sets include six balls of 1.625” in diameter. The toy is made of plastic, surlyn and nylon rope.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 383 (added 9/1/2004)
This set includes four complete BlongoBall games and is a great package for entertaining large groups.
It accommodates 16 players. To add more teams, players can order more BlongoBall Accessory Packs — one pack per player or team.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8610 (added 7/19/2006)
BlongoBalls can be used either indoors or outdoors and played with in any way the athletes feel fit. This set includes a blue, green, purple, red and yellow ball. Each BlongoBall has a nylon rope attached. BlongoBall rubber ball sets are specially designed for indoor play but also are great sellers for youth participants. Younger children can play the game without the worries of using the BlongoBall hard ball sets. These solid rubber balls made from E.V.A. are the same size as the company's hard balls. They are great for schools, community centers, physical therapy and more.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8087 (added 6/1/2006)
This is a handy little ditty bag that can be used to store BlongoBalls. It is 11.5" by 8".
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 620 (added 9/1/2004)
BlongoBall Accessory Packs by BLONGO FAMILY FUN
Other products from BLONGO FAMILY FUN
Up to 10 players can play. They can order one set of BlongoBalls for each additional player or team.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 618 (added 9/1/2004)
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