Bandit Ball

The Bandit Ball - Coming Soon

By Ruth Bertram, Journalism Intern, Turner Center for Entrepreneurship, Bradley University

 With a notebook full of designs and a youthful mentality, John Hinnen hopes to launch his patent pending product, the Bandit Ball, with his company The Bandit Ball Project yet in 2018.

Silicone Wrist Band

The Bandit Ball Project is a local business startup that focuses on selling the Bandit Ball. It is called “The Bandit Ball Project” because it took Hinnen approximately 30 years to design, create and perfect. The ball is a “3-in-1” toy for children ages 6-12. Through the use of a common silicone wristband, the round ball is able to transform into a football or a disc.

When describing his product, Hinnen states, “The game of catch is one of the simplest interactions between two people.”

In addition to its unique design, what makes the Bandit Ball Project so special is that it focuses on giving back. Hinnen explained that with every ball sold, his company plans to donate a portion of the profits to charitable organizations.3 types of balls

“Giving back is important,” said Hinnen.

Looking back on his career, Hinnen explains that he has had a long history of product designs.

For instance, while studying Industrial Design at the University of Illinois, Hinnen made one of his first designs, a device that is able to cook hotdogs with the use of solar panels called the Sundawgger. In addition to the Sundawgger, Hinnen has also created the Snow Slugger, which is a baseball bat that can form, throw, and hit snowballs. The Snow Slugger is licensed and will be sold through Wham-O, an American toy company.

The idea for a 3-in-1 ball came to Hinnen’s mind in 1980’s. Through many trials, errors, career paths, and rejections, Hinnen has perfected his product into what is now known as the Bandit Ball. 

“I’ve always had a lot of ideas. If one hits a roadblock, I’ll go to something else,” said Hinnen.People Playing

In order to have his product come to life, Hinnen has received assistance and advice from many companies and small business owners throughout the area. He attributes much of his success to the Illinois Small Business Development Center [SBDC] where he worked alongside career advisors Ross Miller and Kevin Evans. With the help of the SBDC, Hinnen was able to do many things such as customer discovery interviews and by teaming up with a group of senior business students at Bradley University when he participated in the Senior Consulting Project Program in the Fall of 2017.

John Grandson

I went step by step on what I was supposed to do,” said Hinnen when reflecting on his journey with Bandit Ball and the SBDC.

For the future, Hinnen plans to continue working alongside the SBDC advisors and hopes to have Bandit Ball available for purchase in 2018. The ball will be manufactured first in China, but then in Bloomington IL.

Hinnen’s advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to never give up when pursuing their dreams.

“My job now is to let people know there’s hope,” said Hinnen. “If a guy who’s 61 can do this, no matter what you’ve been through, you can too!

For more information on the Bandit Ball Project, you can contact Hinnen via email at, visit their website,, or like their Facebook or Instagram pages @TheBanditBall.