We are so thankful for our feature in the OC Register. Check out the interview, below!!
As a soccer dad who’d never played the game, Joe Briganti came up with a better way to teach the sport’s most fundamental skill.
Briganti, of San Clemente, is inventor of the Sockit, a device that wraps around a young soccer player’s shoe and lights up whenever the child kicks the ball directly on the shoelaces.
He began to notice when daughters Natalia, 10, and Briana, 8, began soccer that toe kicks were a common conundrum.
“Every single practice, the coach would stop the practice, gather the girls around and try and show them how to kick the soccer ball correctly … with the toe pointed down, the ankle locked and kick the ball with the shoelaces,” Briganti said. “Every time the girls would go back out, they would kick it with their toe pointed up, and the ball would hit the toe and not the shoelaces.”
So we asked:
Q. What was your solution?
A. I decided to go and buy them a soccer-kicking training aid. I went to Google, Amazon, every single sporting goods store, Wal-Mart, Target. Could not find anything that would teach a child how to kick a soccer ball.
Q. What then?
A. I saw that as a great opportunity to work with my daughters and teach them a little about business planning and putting together an idea and turning it to reality. We designed a prototype.
Q. What is it?
A. There’s a pod that sits on top of the shoelaces that has five sensors and LED lights. When the ball makes contact with the sensors … there will be instant feedback to the child. The LED lights will flash about each 10 seconds. We worked with a product engineer. After about a year and a half of designing and manufacturing and prototyping and legal work, we went to market in December.
Q. How have you done?
A. We were selling up to 85 a day at one point on Amazon. We are talking to the folks at “Shark Tank.” Our goal is to make soccer fun for the kids and instead of making it frustrating for the parents and the kids.
Q. What is kids’ reaction?
A.“Oh, I want to try it, that’s cool, that’s awesome!”
Q. Was there a lesson in this for your girls?
A. You can help other people. We’re working with St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. For every unit we sell, we’re giving a portion of the proceeds to St. Jude’s. We gave them 100 Sockits for free for the kids, to give the kids a little bit of hope and excitement when they’re dealing with cancer treatment.
Q. Where do you make this?
A. In China. Our first production run was 10,000 and we’re selling them on Amazon. This is a product that literally could go global, but right now we’re growing slowly. We want to get them into retail stores. We have a website set up. We’re taking baby steps now. For me it’s been about teaching my daughters to work hard and give back.
Q. How did no one think of this before?
A. Maybe the technology wasn’t there, the battery life, the endurance and strength of the rubber band. That was certainly my surprise. I was looking to go out and buy one. Since one didn’t exist, we created it.
Q. How much is it?
A. $19.95. You know what? A lesson is $50 an hour so if you just throw this on your child’s foot, you save a lot of money.
Q. When in stores?
A. We’ve already sold about 2,000. Our goal is to get a good base online. The margins in retail stores are a lot lower than margins online when you sell direct. So for the short term I’m looking for the margins and going online. Eventually as we create a demand base and market awareness of the product, we’ll hopefully go Wal-Mart, Target, sporting goods stores, go global.
Q. What do you do for a living?
A. Real estate banker.
Q. How does a banker go inventing stuff?
A. I’ve always been a fan of “Shark Tank” and I’ve always been somewhat entrepreneurial. This was just an ah-ha moment like, wow, I can’t believe there’s this massive need for this product and there’s not one out there.
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