When Chris Ruder set out to revive a ball-and-net game from his childhood, he was pretty sure he would fail. He wasn’t really into sports and had never run a business. But after 15 years, Spikeball has grown into a thriving brand with a global following. Spikeball is a two-on-two game where players hit a rubber ball onto a circular net. Invented in 1989, it never took off. But in 2003, when childhood friends dusted off a duct-taped set, Chris began daydreaming about bringing it back to life. For a few years, it was just a crazy idea, until Chris dug deeper and discovered it was never patented. Chris ran the business by himself for six years and discovered Spikeball was taking off with PE teachers and Christian youth groups. When he was offered a deal on Shark Tank, he turned it down because he didn’t want Spikeball to be marketed as a toy, and instead focused on growing it as a competitive sport. Now, the game is popular around the world and its international governing body has Olympic ambitions.
This episode was produced by Chris Maccini, with music by Ramtin Arablouei.
Edited by Neva Grant, with research help from Chris Maccini.