An interview with Jim Medalia, president and founder of " Just Balls!"

Q: What types of products do you sell at Justballs.Com?
A: Justballs carries and sells the largest selection of sport, fitness, training, toy, collectable and promotional balls and accessories -- ball machines, pumps, bags, racks, et cetera -- in the world.

Q: How did your company get started selling over the Internet?
A: After 4 years of building Web sites for major corporations, my wife and I decided to build an e-commerce site for ourselves. We thought that e-commerce would become one of the major applications of the Internet. We spent a year studying Amazon and CDNow. We thought that would be a good way to develop a successful e-commerce business model.

We decided that there were more varieties of balls than any other product in sporting goods. Balls are easy to ship, have a long shelf life, little after-market support is needed, and they are affordable. We also learned that there was a strong business-to-business market in sporting goods and the sales of balls -- schools, teams, leagues, clubs,camps, et cetera.

Finally, we discovered that balls represent a $2.3 billion market just in the USA.

Q: What do you feel has made your site successful?
A: Focus, focus, and more focus. We are totally focused on the online sales of balls. Our mission is to create and dominate this new category/niche and to concentrate on our customers and their needs.

Q: What have you done on a regular basis to promote your site?
A: We've experimented with a number of marketing opportunities -- everything from buying banner ads, to going to trade shows, to sponsoring events by providing balls to be signed. We have found that trade shows are a very goodplace for us to be, at least for right now.

We also work within grass-roots organizations such asthe AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) and the NAYS (National Association of Youth Sports).

Additionally, we are starting to put forth an affiliate program. We started about a month ago, and we're just under 1,000 affiliates.

Q: Could you talk a little bit about your sponsorship efforts?
A: We always wanted to have a strong community feel to our site. We wanted to give something back. One of the ways that we wanted to do that was to provide game balls.

Mostly we're interested in doing that with groups that are promoting or are involved with after-school organized sports. We find that this is an area that is lacking.

Published on: Oct 21, 1999