2 kids’ creativity sparks new family business - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Money

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2 kids’ creativity sparks new family business

Noochie Golf allows anyone to create their own miniature golf course

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Posted: Sunday, April 20, 2014 4:45 am

The creativity of two elementary-aged kids has been transformed into a family business for the LoBracco family of Ahwatukee Foothills.

The idea was started years ago when JoAnn and Sal LoBracco took their two sons, Tre, and Dom, to play miniature golf. Once they got home the two boys spent the rest of the summer creating their own courses from anything they could find.

“They used puzzle boxes, two-liter bottles, car tracks, whatever they had,” Sal said. “Eventually we got to thinking, ‘What can we buy that can help them do this?’”

The couple got online, but besides putting mats they couldn’t find any golf toys for kids that allowed them to create their own course. They decided to make one of their own. The boys came up with the idea to design it like their train track, with interchangeable pieces, and their parents got to work.

The idea has taken some time to come together. Once a design was decided on it took years to research the right materials to make the pieces out of.

In November of 2013 the family took its first prototype to the Chicago Toy and Game Fair to get advice from industry leaders and opinions from the public. The response from that fair encouraged them to move forward.

“We were thinking of it as a kid’s toy, but we had a lot of adults come to us,” JoAnn said. “We had one older guy who couldn’t walk the course anymore. He wanted one for his house. We had a school superintendent who said when they get snowed in, they could put these in the gym for the kids. It opened a bunch of different avenues.”

The couple quit their jobs and cashed in their 401k’s to get the manufacturing started. Now, they’re hoping pre-orders will help them raise what’s left and get the product out this September.

“It’s amazing to see something on paper turn into something,” JoAnn said. “It’s funny to hear the boys. They get excited with all these new ideas. It’s cute to hear them and try to put it on paper and get it going... The greatest part about it is it’s not just a putting green. They can use their creativity and get off the couch.”

The product is called Noochie Golf, named after the youngest creator, Dom, whose nickname is “The Nooch.” A set includes four interchangeable pieces, one putter and two golf balls. The four pieces can be moved around to create more than 15 different courses. Tre and Dom already have ideas for additional pieces that can take the game even further in the future.

“We want to make a tunnel, a windmill, a hump,” Tre said. “We like how you can make it your own thing. It’s fun and exciting.”

The family has started a campaign on KickStarter.com where people can pre-order their set or donate to the idea. For more information, visit noochiegolf.com.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com.

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