Lots of people have ideas. Some say they do their best thinking in the shower. Josh Bonventre’s big idea came while driving home from his day job as a physical education teacher in the Shoreham-Wading River school district.
A few years ago, Bonventre was a typical Long Island husband and dad of three. Now he is the co-founder of RampShot, an outdoor game designed for four players which involves four racquetball-like spheres and two ramps with built-in nets. Two players make up a team and score points by either tossing the ball into the net or catching the ball after it bounces off the top of the ramp.
The idea may sound simple, but taking it from a fleeting daydream in traffic to an award-winning, booming business venture is anything but.
Bonventre, along with help from his friend and co-founder Kevin Texeira, set up shop in Bonventre’s detached garage at his Center Moriches home about two years ago. Today, the garage is bursting at the seams with office furniture and packaged RampShots waiting to be shipped.
Texeira has since moved from Mount Sinai to the Finger Lakes area in upstate New York. He is a national sales manager for a cookie company in addition to his responsibilities with RampShot.
“Right now our biggest obstacle is getting them made fast enough,” Bonventre said. Bonventre and Texeira launched the company Shore Creations in November, though RampShot is their only game so far. Their trajectory as a company is hardly the norm.
Within the first two months of the company’s launch, the duo applied to be recognized by the National Sporting Goods Association as one of its top 10 new products. By April, they were on a plane to Austin, Texas, to attend an NSGA conference and be recognized as one of the top products. In addition, the game was featured on A&E Network’s “Project StartUp.”
“They’re a great partner for the sports industry,” Katie Nemec, director of marketing for the NSGA, said in an email about Bonventre and Texeira.
“Everyday I wake up I just can’t believe what’s happening,” Bonventre said about the success his company has experienced despite being in its infancy. “We’re still at the beginning so for us this is really exciting now. But to think about the potential for the future is sometimes overwhelming.”
Bonventre estimates that he and Texeira have invested somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000. Both said they dedicate between 30 and 40 hours a week to RampShot, on top of their normal work schedules and family duties.
Texeira remembers the moment when he decided it was time to fully commit to producing and selling RampShot. The partners received a phone call one evening from their attorney who informed them that their idea was 100 percent original and would not infringe on any existing patents. Texeira said that for him there was no looking back after that.
“It’s been fun for me personally,” Tim Goddeau, operations manager of Micelli Chocolate Mold Co., said in an email. His Long Island-based company manufactures the games.
“Anytime you have people who never been in the manufacturing business you get to show them how difficult it can be to make a product.”
Bonventre and Texeira are not alone. Rather than cut short this interview, Bonventre’s wife Jackie and son Tyler rose to the occasion when a UPS truck pulled up to their house to pick up an order of 16 games.
“It’s my exercise,” Jackie Bonventre said laughing.
Tyler was somehow able to hoist three of the boxes up at a time and haul them out to the truck, despite the fact that one box seemed to be about half of his size.
“Once I saw the product I knew that he had something so I was supportive of it,” Josh Bonventre said. “Whatever he had to do, I was in.”
Texeira fondly remembered when he decided to go to his parents and tell them about the idea.
“My dad was a Rocky Point music teacher for 35 years,” Texeira said. “He wasn’t someone who took a lot of risks. They loved the idea that it was a game and they trusted my business background.”
Bonventre estimates more than a thousand games have been sold in the past few months.
“The other day I come home and there’s a bunch of new orders that came in while I was at work,” he said. “They were from basically every corner of the country.”
The game is currently sold in sporting goods stores in the tri-state area, the Midwest, New England and online. Soon a few Bed Bath & Beyond locations on Long Island will carry RampShot.
“We just had somebody the other day on Facebook, somebody we don’t know posted to our wall and they have a picture of our game at the beach,” Bonventre said. “She writes ‘probably the best game to play in the sand. Probably the best game ever.’”
Bonventre stopped short of declaring RampShot and Shore Creations as his sole source of income in the future. Standing in his garage — turned small business headquarters — Bonventre daydreamed about the future again for a moment.
“Two years from now, three years from now, four years from now are we going to be selling 10,000 at a shot?” he pondered. “We obviously won’t be able to do it here.”