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Spud Alford saw some kids playing a game he remembered playing during his own childhood–finger football–and thought there had to be a better and safer way. He invented the board version of the game in 1989, but he didn’t “take it to the next level.” After a brief run, it died.

Entrepreneur reports that for a year, Alford kept his job as an investigator for the government while working on a prototype and a business plan. “I was worn out,” he says. But a well-timed $100,000 check from an investor changed everything. Alford quit his job, opened an office and pursued Zelosport and Finger Football full-time.

By the fall of 2006, the Columbus, Georgia-based company, with Alford as CEO and his brother, Mike, as president, was ready to kick things off. The game, with its football field configuration, mom-friendly soft football and goal posts at either end, sold 12,000 units.

So why, in a decidedly high-tech era, did launching a decidedly low-tech game strike Alford as the right thing to do? His faith played a big role, and he knew families would like a game everyone could play together. Appearances on CNN and The 700 Club didn’t hurt Finger Football’s prospects, either.

With sales of $1 million over a four-year span and roughly the same pace expected for 2010, about 40 college licensing agreements, an expanding roster, a growing network
of competitive leagues and word-of-mouth buzz growing, it might just be time to call Zelosport and Finger Football a 20-year overnight success.

Photo by Zelosport.

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Originally posted by Rich Whittle on December 21, 2010 in Ideas.

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