Engineers float hot idea: hamster balls for humans

Engineers Mike Glover and John Heit have gone completely ballistic.

Capitalizing on an idea they saw last year at the Great Reno Balloon Race, Glover and Heit, principals with Ballistic Entertainment, launched a side project for special events, corporate functions and birthday parties that’s already proven to be a hit with younger generations.

Ballistic Entertainment bills itself as the operator of human hamster balls. Glover and Heit, who design commercial fire sprinkler systems for a living, formed the venture that uses oversized inflatable clear vinyl balls to completely encapsulate a person. Riders bounce around inside the balls in a 20-foot by 20-foot pool that holds several feet of water.

“It’s kind of a new concept in inflatables,” Glover says. “This little company from Fresno was doing it at the balloon races, and we thought it would do really good in Reno.”

The two principals spent about a year researching equipment and bringing the concept together. They staged their first test of the concept June 29 and 30 at the hydroplane boat-racing event at Sparks Marina. Glover says several hundred people — mostly ages 3 through 30 — paid $5 each for a five- to eight-minute ride inside the floating balls.

“It is a must-do — there definitely was some parental arm-twisting,” Glover says.

Capital expenditure for Ballistic Entertainment included purchasing eight inflatable balls, the pool, a pop-up shade structure, signage and T-shirts and other marketing collateral.

Glover and Heit aren’t about to quit their regular jobs and are mulling their options for special events at which they’d like to set up. Time is the biggest commitment, Glover says. If the idea takes off — and the two partners had quite a few parties express interest for Ballistic Entertainment for their corporate events and birthday functions — they may hire help to staff special events. Cost for set up at birthdays and corporate events is negotiated on a flat fee for time spent at the event, Glover says.

“Right now we are operating with no employees, and if looks like we really are obtaining a lot of business that is where we would go,” he says. “But there definitely is some excitement between John and myself about where this could take us.”

NNBW Staff


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