Shane Cox originally designed the Q Ball for teachers as a fun way to engage students in the classroom. He realized it made video conferences much more fun and entertaining too. People giving large presentations can throw the Q Ball to someone in the audience rather than have “that guy” running around the room with a mic when it's time for Q&A. The wireless mic connects to any audio device with quick plug and play functionality, so it's easy to set up and use.
Cox wants a Shark to help him get to the next level when he pitches his product in episode 904. IndieGoGo backers liked the Q Ball enough to give Cox and his team nearly $47,000 to start production. Hopefully, one of the Sharks is just as generous.
The Q Ball sells for $179. The wireless mic – which you can use without the ball – is surrounded by a soft, Nerf-like foam. Teachers can give their lessons over the mic and toss the ball to a student to answer the question. Cox says this keeps kids more attentive and engaged. They also learn more because they can hear the teacher and their fellow students.
The company has some issues with production after the IndieGoGo campaign; shipments to backers were delayed about a year. Now, they are in full production. Users give the product rave reviews, so apparently Q Ball delivers on its performance promises. Cox likely wants a Shark's help to ramp up production and help him navigate the world of Chinese manufacturing.
My Take on Q Ball
As a licensed teacher, I see the benefits of using Q Ball in the classroom. My only concern is the kids may get a bit rambunctious going for the ball. Other than that, it's a great tool. The mere anticipation of catching the ball ought to hold a bit more attention to the lesson at hand. If I were teaching now, I'd have a Q Ball in my class.
I also see the benefit of Q Ball in meetings and presentations. The ease of passing the microphone would not only speed things up, but offer the same level of engagement – adults can lose their attention too! Durability is one concern, but so far, nobody to my knowledge broke their Q Ball. This looks like a fun, useful product. I'm interested to see if any of my teacher friends pick one up.
Are the Sharks on the Ball?
Q Ball's biggest challenge is it's not proprietary. There are other “throwable wireless microphones” on the market. Most notable is the Catch Box – essentially the same thing as the Q Ball, but the soft foam outer covering is cube shaped. There are other ball shaped knock-offs coming on the market, too. One of them, the Micball, claims it has a patent. Since sticking a wireless mic inside a foam ball isn't exactly rocket science, there are bound to be many more imitators.
The Sharks will likely push Mr. Cox on that very point. Sharks like proprietary products if they want to invest. To stand out in the marketplace, they'll need strong branding. With the “Brandfather” Rohan Oza on the panel, the proper branding help is in the room. Unfortunately for Q Ball, the challenges and competition it faces are probably too much for one of the Sharks to tackle. The business and the product will like do very well, I think, however, they'll be making their entrepreneurial journey without a Shark.