September 23, 2018

Let the ‘Jewish Wisdom Ball’ be your guide

“I've always been interested in manifesting creativity, whether it's by making a toy, a company or a poem.”

So when former journalist Rami Genauer got the idea for the ” target=”_blank”>FightMetric, at the tender age of 26. As he describes it, his company “looks at sports performance data in emerging sports, like kickboxing, and uses the information to help athletic organizations collect data on sports performance, interpret the data, and integrate the information into storytelling to help viewers of the sports understand who's winning and why.”

Genauer's intense focus on the “hows” and “whys” of data interpretation offer a glimpse into why he was inspired to create the Jewish equivalent of a Magic 8 Ball — the Jewish Wisdom Ball, named with the help of his older brother, Ezra.

“I grew up with Judaism infused in everything I did. I also tended to hang around with a lot of old Jewish men,” Genauer said.

“My grandfather and his twin brother knew everyone and talked to everyone else. These guys and the group of retirees that they spent time with told the best jokes and always had the best stories. So much of the language that floats through my head is grounded in my time spent with this community.”

Since 2006, Genauer had toyed with the idea of a Jewish Magic 8 Ball for doling out advice in that particularly emotive and somewhat judgmental manner of a bubbe or zayde.

He'd ask family and friends if they'd be interested in the product — take the temperature of the response, and then let it settle for a couple years — revisiting it every so often until, this year, he got an overwhelmingly positive response and decided to try to make it a reality.

Between the relatively new popularity of crowd-funding sites, as well as advances in manufacturing that allow smaller quantities of products to be created at low cost, Genauer realized he could test out his product on a much smaller market without risking too much money.

This is a description of the product on the Kickstarter campaign site:

The Jewish Wisdom Ball has 6 positive answers, 6 negative, 6 inconclusive, and 2 that can be read either positively or negatively depending on your mood. In addition, fully 40 percent of the responses are phrased in the form of a question. For example, 'So now you need my help?' ”

Genauer's personal favorite of the twenty possible answers is “Feh.”

“There's just so much packed into those letters. It embodies an attitude and emotion that is Jewish in so many ways, and yet there is no good English translation.”

To publicize his product, Genauer also tapped into the 'gig economy' to create publicity materials for his Kickstarter campaign, a distinctly Millennial choice. He found a woman on Etsy to do a mock-up of the final product, he found a local photographer on Groupon to shoot his publicity photos, and a man Genauer found on Fiverr did the voiceover for his promotional video.

“As a former journalist, marketing, technology and art weren't really in my skill-set. With this new economy, I was able to outsource and leverage other people's creativity.”

One thing that's posed a bit of a problem for Genauer is his lack of social media presence.

“I'm actually a social media luddite. I don't have a Facebook, a Twitter account or a LinkedIn profile. What I'm realizing is that something like this either succeeds or fails based on whether or not you get it in front of people. Without my own social network, I have to beg friends and family to place my Kickstarter campaign on their personal Facebook pages.”

Although Genauer had never before regretted not being engaged in social media, that changed when he realized it would have been easier to instantly have hundreds of eyeballs on his product by posting about it once. Now, he's found himself sending hundreds of individual emails instead, but it hasn't all been bad.

“As you get further down your email list, you find yourself reaching out to people you haven't spoken to in years. It's a tough sell, 'How's everything? Do you want to spend money [$18, naturally] on a Jewish version of a Magic 8 Ball?'”

To Genauer's surprise, most people were happy to hear from him and willing to help out.

Genauer is aware that his product, a tchotchke by his own description, won't change anyone's life.

“I just hope it will make people smile.”

To learn more about the Jewish Wisdom Ball and contribute to Genauer's Kickstarter campaign, visit: