AMES, Iowa — In the winter of 2018, the Magic Tee was ready to revolutionize hitting. A tee that held the ball from above — like magic.
And they had a plan to fund it.
“Kickstarter’s really the way that we’re going to roll out to check to see if we’re right,” said Sam Schill.
Turns out — they weren’t. Magic Tee went down swinging.
Let’s jump ahead to summer, 2021.
“Well, the Kickstarter did not fund,” says Magic Tee’s developer, Rob Kibbe. “I don’t remember where we landed — maybe $30,000.”
Kibbe, Schill, and their partners in Ames needed to secure $75,000 in 30 days in crowd-funding to start production.
“It was fairly apparent about halfway through that 30 days that it probably wasn’t gonna happen,” says partner Ryan McGuire.”
So, decision time. Let it die, or come up with a new plan.
“It just didn’t feel right to quit at that point,” McGuire admits. “We said ‘OK, we’ve got something, let’s try to take this forward.’”
They decided to seek out funding on their own.
“We had people reach out to us that heard some of our story,” Schill says, “because we tried to be as loud as possible during that Kickstarter campaign—and they said ‘I want to support you guys in this’ and actually finding strategic investors and partners was EASIER than Kickstarter.”
They found investors and kicked in their own cash.
A lot of it.
“More than my first house, less than my second,” Kibbe laughs.
They found a place in Taiwan to manufacture the parts, but then — those parts didn’t work.
“We’d get to a point where we’d be ready, we’d get something over here and then we’d need to re-engineer something else,” says Nathan Haila, the fourth partner in the project.
“I had to figure out a way to make them work,” Kibbe says, “and then ask them to make that change and have them send me a new one, and over and over.”
After modifying some 95% of its parts, Magic Tee was back and better than before.
Shipped from Taiwan to Ames — a warehouse full of boxes never looked so good.
“To see it come out of a container and slide onto a shelf and be ready to go was a pretty exciting moment,” Haila remembers, “especially when you’ve thought that you were going to be there maybe eight other times!”
You’ll find it on the almighty Amazon, but sales should really kick in this fall when teams begin buying equipment for next season.
Schill, McGuire, and Haila are all local baseball and softball coaches who use the Magic Tee with their teams. This fall, they’ll be encouraging others to do the same.
“So we’re going to be at trade shows,” Schill says, “we’re gonna be doing a bunch of marketing, we’re going to be working with hitting coaches across the country trying to introduce them to the product. We hope it will become a main thing that people are using all across the country to teach players who are young–all the way to college and professionals–how to keep tuning up and create a better swing.”
If Magic Tee is a big hit, others will surely wonder why they didn’t think of it first. But we’ll know better.
This hit required more than a few strikes.
“We finally made it!” Kibbe chuckles. “We’re either too dumb — or too committed.”
As of press time, Magic Tee retails for $629 on Amazon.