Mike invented the Popcorn Ball after playing catch with his daughter but has found that marketing his product has been challenging. He and GoDaddy’s Shawn Pfunder discuss search engine optimization and other ways for small businesses to market their products. Watch Steve Harvey’s Funderdome Sundays 9|8c on ABC.
Shawn: Hey I’m Shawn:. I’m with GoDaddy. I’m here hanging out with Mike who’s got the popcorn ball.
Mike: The popcorn ball.
Shawn: The popcorn ball. So wait, you got to explain it to us. Like how does it work?
Mike: Plain popcorns and then straight to the microwave, 2, 3, or 4 minutes depending on how much you put in there.
Mike: Or pop it however you like popping it. Throw it in there and then add your favorite toppings.
Mike: And give it a whirl. Spin it around. Shake it up.
Shawn: All right. So I put the popcorn — how much popcorn do I put in there?
Mike: If you’re going to cook it in the microwave?
Mike: Anywhere from a quarter to a half a cup.
Shawn: All right. So I put the popcorn in there. I put this into the microwave and then I just cook the popcorn.
Mike: About 3 minutes.
Shawn: That’s it.
Shawn: Okay where in the world did you come up with this idea?
Mike: Way back five, six years ago.
Mike: It’s Christmastime making some snacks and my wife was doing actually a party Chex mix kind of thing.
Shawn: Chex mix.
Mike: Yeah. It’s party mix but she was doing it in a bowl. And then had the spatula. And she’s crunching through the Chex mix and punching through. I could hear it breaking and I’m like — I started thing about like an appliance that’s more like a cement mixer.
Shawn: Okay, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Mike: Condensed down to a tabletop version.
Shawn: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Mike: And it was going to be costly. You know very expensive to make.
Mike: And literally like two weeks later, you know we got two pink lines and we’re pregnant. Funds were gone.
Shawn: Yeah no cement mixer on the table [inaudible].
Mike: But I kept the idea in my head.
Mike: Okay fast forward about two and a half years —
Mike: — after my daughter now, she’s 18 months old and we’re rolling the ball. A ball around in the living room back and forth. I pick it up and just start spinning it in my hands.
Mike: And I’m like there’s popcorn. There could be popcorn inside of this. [Laughter] My hands are the machine.
Shawn: I love this.
Mike: I said you know, so that was the ah ha moment.
Shawn: Okay. So you do the drawing, you put stuff together. Like how in the world do you go — because a lot of people have questions like this. How do I go about my concept like this to an actual like — did you have a prototype? Did you then move on after that or like how did you come up with the design?
Mike: Right. I work for some guys that had experience with CAD drawing.
Mike: They got me my 2D dimensional blueprints.
Mike: From there we freelanced a guy online and he got us 3D printed and some 3D —
Shawn: Oh yeah.
Mike: — designs, 3D graphics.
Mike: From there we went to a full stage prototype company and then right into online crowd funding.
Shawn: Dude. So what advice would you give to other like entrepreneurs or other people that have ideas?
Mike: Do your research. Make sure that there’s a market there for it.
Mike: You don’t want to invest a bunch of money in something that nobody’s going to buy.
Mike: And so do your homework. But if you feel — your gut feeling’s telling you like it’s going to be it, you know go for it. Just be persistent.
Shawn: Be persistent.
Mike: Exactly. Shawn: Yeah like love it enough and just stay with it, right?
Shawn: Yeah I totally love it. All right. So let’s talk a little bit about marketing and like getting your idea out to the world. Like where have you found success with marketing and where do you struggle with marketing?
Mike: The search engine optimization.
Shawn: Oh search engine optimization, SEO.
Mike: The [inaudible] word. So when you go online and you want to type popcorn or popcorn balls and you usually find a thousand recipes.
Shawn: Oh I know, dude.
Mike: — of marshmallows —
Shawn: That’s what you’re going to find. That totally make sense.
Mike: You’ll never find a plastic container for one.