July 25, 2017
AMES, Iowa — The Iowa State University Startup Factory today announced the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) board awarded The Oh Ball a $100,000 Demonstration Fund award for IP development and evaluation, product refinement and market planning. The Oh Ball is a cohort member in the ISU Startup Factory, housed in the Iowa State University Research Park.
According to a release from the IEDA, the Demonstration Fund is designed to provide Iowa-based businesses that have innovative technology solutions with financial and technical assistance to help them reach a position where they are able to attract later-stage, private-sector funding.
The Technology Commercialization Committee (TCC) makes award recommendations for these funds to the IEDA Board for approval. The $100,000 award was the maximum provided for this program.
The Oh Ball is an Iowa-based manufacturer of an innovative line of devices designed to relieve foot pain caused by such things as plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, or standing for long hours on one’s feet. The Oh Ball Founder and President Kipp Hagaman said he developed the product-line after experiencing his own debilitating foot pain caused by plantar fasciitis.
“I know first-hand what foot-pain feels like and the amount of unnecessary suffering and exorbitant costs a person goes through to try and address the problem,” Hagaman said. “We created a product that is simple, yet provides relief in a short amount of time—to literally, get you up and back on your feet again.”
According to Hagaman, the Demo Fund award will give his startup the needed assistance to further develop its product and refine its marketing strategy. The award comes at a time when the company is experiencing considerable momentum within its business development stage.
Tapping into Iowa State University Resources
Hagaman said his company is getting help on the re-design of its leading product, the patent-pending Snoh Ball, from the Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) at Iowa State University.
“We are working with CIRAS on the re-engineering of the Snoh Ball with the ultimate goal of bringing manufacturing costs down,” Hagaman said. “CIRAS has been beyond helpful with regard to the expertise they have been able to bring to the re-design process—they have figured out how to make a great product even better and at a much lower production cost that will be a game-changer, allowing our company to grow and scale-up even faster.”
Hagaman said the Snoh Ball takes the benefits of the original Oh Ball and adds the element of quick, pain-relieving cold.
“The Snoh Ball is made from medium density polyethylene and filled with non-toxic gel, much like what you’d find in an ice pack,” Hagaman said. “It can stay cold for hours and helps to reduce swelling, relax muscles and provide immediate relief.”
CIRAS is also involved with the development of improved product packaging for the Oh Ball products.
“Our packaging is being entirely revamped,” Hagaman said. “The resulting packaging will be less labor intensive to produce, environmentally friendly, and effectively designed so retailers will see the product flying off the shelf.”
Another Iowa State program that Hagaman said will help with the development of the Snoh Ball is the CyBIZ Lab, housed at the Economic Development Core Facility in the Iowa State University Research Park.
“The student teams within the CyBIZ Lab will be contributing to our marketing strategy efforts,”Hagaman said. “Their services include conducting market research to help us zero in on our target market and refine our marketing strategy. CyBIZ takes on business problems, much like ours, and finds applicable solutions that can be put into place right away.”
This past June, Hagaman joined the ISU Startup Factory as a member of the Factory’s third cohort of companies as a means to receive formal training and access to resources and a network of business mentors, advisors and investors.
“The Startup Factory has really rounded out this whole picture of building my business,” Hagamansaid. “Right now, the curriculum is focusing on business model validation and refinement, which fits in perfectly where I am in my business development stage. It’s my hope that others will also see the value here and tap into the network of entities that work together at Iowa State to help create and further develop businesses.”
IEDA invests in Iowa Businesses
Hagaman also credits the IEDA for the department’s vision for helping to grow businesses and economic development in Iowa.
“We are extremely grateful to the IEDA and appreciate their faith in our company and willingness to help push us and other startups in the right direction,” Hagaman said. “At The Oh Ball, we want to give back. Like the IEDA, we are also committed to bringing more jobs to Iowa, and we plan to do that by having our products manufactured right here in Iowa.”
In total, the IEDA announced over $111 million in capital investments in Iowa for planned or proposed projects located in Ankeny, Des Moines, Fairfield, Huxley, Independence, Oskaloosa, Polk City and West Des Moines along with innovation funding for four startups.
About The Oh Ball
The Oh Ball is an Iowa-based manufacturer of a revolutionary, yet simple, line of foot pain relief devices. The Oh Ball products provide relief for foot pain caused by such things as plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, or just long hours on one’s feet in harsh, unforgiving environments. For more information, email Kipp Hagaman at firstname.lastname@example.org
About Startup Factory
The Iowa State University (ISU) Startup Factory is a 52-week intensive program housed at the ISU Research Park (ISURP). Entrepreneurs in the Startup Factory receive formal training, resources, and access to a network of business mentors, advisors, counselors, and investors in two 26-week blocks: the first a formal curriculum centered on business validation, and the second, customized to their individual business needs. For more information on the ISU Startup Factory program, call 515-294-7444 or visit isustartupfactory.org
About ISU Research Park
The Iowa State University Research Park (ISURP) is a 30-year-old real estate development community closely affiliated with Iowa State University. ISURP assists both established and startup companies in connecting with Iowa State’s vast infrastructure to grow their enterprises; whether through students, research entities, equipment or a multitude of other resources. ISURP is currently home to more than 70 companies, employs 1,700 people and occupies 600,000 square feet of commercial real estate on 400 acres. ISURP recently expanded into 200 acres of developable space, which will include tenant amenities, a park and multi-use trails. For more information on ISURP, call 515.296.4204 or visit isupark.org.