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What started out in the mid 1990s as a few guys throwing a disc into banged up metal
garbage cans has emerged as America’s #1 party sport. But “what a long, strange
trip it’s been” for partners Charles Sciandra and Mitch Rubin.
Their passion and vision for the game is the cornerstone of KanJam’s success. Now
synonymous with tailgating, camping, beach parties, school gymnasiums, college campuses,
neighborhood parks and backyard parties, the game played everywhere might not have
been played at all if not for the ingenuity and perseverance of the KanJam partners.
It all started when Sciandra approached Paul Swisher, former KanJam co-partner,
with the idea of creating a revolutionary disc tossing game. Sciandra knew it would
be tough, as only 1/3 of 1% of all patented ideas ever make it to market. Swisher
was undaunted, and the two co-inventors began the KanJam journey.
But patent and production hurdles had to be jumped before KanJam could take off,
and they answered the call with some clever thinking and a little bit of luck (or
divine intervention). When patent challenges initially arose, Sciandra knew that
he would need to differentiate KanJam from other disc-based games. The game would
require significant changes for approval, design, acceptance, pricing, marketing
and distribution through various channels. He responded by creating the “Instant
Win” slot—the bullseye of great marksmen, the “Hail Mary” of football quarterbacks,
the half-court basket at the buzzer. The Instant Win allows for an opponent to catch
up to the other team at any point in the game, regardless of the score. With this
added feature, the KanJam patent was approved within 13 months (Lucky 13).
Patent in hand, now KanJam just needed a product. How could the same game that used
heavy-duty garbage cans be brought to the masses in an easily set-up and transportable
fashion? After months of reconnaissance trips to sporting goods retailers and hardware
stores, Sciandra literally stumbled upon the answer in his own basement. There,
seemingly unusable and unloved, was a coiled up piece of leftover linoleum. And
the light bulb went on. Sciandra quickly surmised that using a heavy plastic material
that had no memory and could be die-cut would allow KanJam to be produced, assembled,
packaged, shipped and stored in a most cost-effective manner.
Now it was time to start selling games. During the time that KanJam was selling
through local retailers and out of the house, they realized that they met the requirements
of school physical education classes, a huge boon for the company. Swisher was instrumental
in these early days, developing the school market in his hometown of North Tonawanda,
NY and becoming the true ambassador of KanJam. Though deciding to leave the Company
in 2006, Swisher continues to run various KanJam tournaments, including the World
KanJam’s success in the school market allowed them to move out of the house and
into a new warehouse. And it’s been nothing
but momentum since Mitch Rubin joined Sciandra as co-partner of KanJam, LLC in 2006
and ignited the retail side of the business. The Company has now sold hundreds of
thousands of KanJam games; signed on with many premier sporting goods stores; created
its fourth retail box in three years as a result of customer demand; produced custom
goals and private labeling through major national companies; partnered with advertising
agencies to increase brand awareness; established a presence on the web; and employs
a legion of independent sales reps.
Sciandra and Rubin work diligently to ensure that all elements to KanJam are made
and assembled in the US. Centrally located in Western New York; they pride themselves
on being an environmentally friendly company. Determined to leave a positive mark
on Americans, KanJam also contributes to various charitable organizations. Their
mission is to continue to bring fun games and opportunities to people across America.
Today, KanJam is sold in over 3,000 retail outlets across the country, is used in
2,000 schools as part of the PE curriculum, and is popping up everywhere on YouTube
and Facebook pages.
The sky’s the limit for the dynamic duo of Sciandra and Rubin. Think Lennon and
McCartney, Jagger and Richards, Ben and Jerry.