Foooty and the power of play

Madlen Popignatova 17
June 1st, 2018
Article by: Sophie Poulsen
Foooty and the power of play

Some of the best businesses are born from bad experiences. THNK participant Jean-Pierre Raes’ fun product Foooty is no exception.

 

Going on holidays, Jean-Pierre and his wife would often forget to bring a ball for their kids to play with, or couldn’t fit one in their suitcase. They ended up buying a new ball on every vacation so that their home, according to Jean-Pierre, eventually became a “museum of footballs.”

 

Luckily for his kids, Jean-Pierre is a passionate entrepreneur who has built a career around turning ideas into businesses. His company, Apollo 11, creates new business concepts and helps companies grow with innovation and entrepreneurship workshops.

 

Fed up with purchasing a new football every holiday, Jean-Pierre met with an industrial designer to design a new kind of ball that could easily travel with him and his family everywhere they went.

 

In 2016, he launched Foooty.

The concept of play is evident in Foooty, especially in their most recent collaboration with humanitarian aid organization Qandil; for every Foooty sold, one Foooty is donated to refugee kids in Iraq. Watch the video to learn more.

The power of play

A unique patented 2D construction that allows players to create 3D shapes, Foooty is “a ball that fits in your pocket.” Connecting each element allows you to create all kinds of shapes from rugby balls to rockets to footballs. And when you’re done playing, you simply disconnect the parts and put them back in your pocket.

At the core of Foooty is play. According to Jean-Pierre, “the definition of play is that you dare to do things you wouldn’t normally do. It’s about the fact that you do it and then by doing it, you learn something. Play is all about the experience of learning.”

There is an abundance of research on play and its positive effects on early childhood learning and development. For Jean-Pierre, “play is as important as sleeping and eating. Playing is a way to create connections with people and to be creative in finding new solutions. This applies not only to children, but also to adults. Somehow, somebody decided that when you are over eighteen, you should play less. The opposite should be the case in this volatile world of stress and complexity. We should learn by experimenting, enterprising, innovating… These are all forms of serious play.”

The concept of play is evident in Foooty, especially in their most recent collaboration with humanitarian aid organization Qandil; for every Foooty sold, one Foooty is donated to refugee kids in Iraq. (Jean-Pierre connected with Qandil through fellow THNKer Oscar Sanchez, a Field Coordinator in Iraq for UNHCR.)

“It’s important that we work with organizations like Qandil to give all kids the opportunity to play, to give them hope. Of course it starts with offering food and shelter, but it’s also very important to offer kids playtime because this gives kids opportunities to dream and to work as teams and to connect with each other, which is crucial for their development.”

power of play
Play is as important as sleeping and eating. It is a way to create connections with people and to be creative in finding new solutions. #powerofplay #innovation #entrepreneurship Click To Tweet

Finding your compass

Since it launched on Kickstarter in 2016, the company has sold many Foooty packs and is now available in more than 20 countries. You can also buy Foooty products on board of various international airlines and in many airports around the world.

The challenge going forward, Jean-Pierre says, is making Foooty more sustainable and developing more products to stimulate play for kids and adults.

Jean-Pierre says his experience at THNK helped him reignite his playful, go-getter attitude and rediscover his compass after years of feeling like something was missing: “Allowing these experiences emotionally but also business-wise to happen, through letting go and just doing it and trusting in what you’re actually good at, is the THNK experience.”

His advice for fellow entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs is to “Just do it. You’re smart enough that you’re here, so the combination of just doing it and being very attentive while you’re doing it, that’s one of the key things as an entrepreneur.”

What you gain is the freedom to do what you’re passionate about: “If you really believe in it, it’s going to happen – as long as you start doing it.”

Jean-Pierre Raes
Jean-Pierre Raes
Founder
Apollo 11 Creator Studio Amsterdam
"Allowing these experiences emotionally but also business-wise to happen, through letting go and just doing it and trusting in what you’re actually good at, is the THNK experience."

To experience the power of play in action, join the Executive Leadership Program. Visit the program page to find out if you qualify or contact us at admissions@thnk.org.

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