Entrepreneurship! This word alone can have a different effect on different people. For some people, entrepreneurship represents everything they have ever wanted to do. They’ve been enticed by being their own boss and doing what they love. Others see entrepreneurship as a headache, too big a risk, and just a sure way to lose everything they already have.
For me entrepreneurship is fascinating. Two years ago, my sophomore year, I was trying to find something to do during a boring Wednesday night over spring break. As I began to tinker with things, I picked up my catcher’s mitt and began to reminisce about my playing days. As I thought about my “glory days,” I thought about the countless hours I spent training and all the lessons I had taken. Why weren’t there ever any training tools for catchers? All the training tools in baseball consist of hitting, throwing, and fielding training. With this, I used my analytical skills that I’ve learned from my education at Wabash as a philosophy major, and I created my catcher’s training tool.
My training tool is called Perfect-A-Block, and its purpose is to promote the correct form of blocking a baseball or softball in the dirt. There are two problems when a catcher is learning to block. The first, a person’s natural reaction to an oncoming object is to flinch and turn away. By turning away, the catcher exposes his or her throat, which if hit with the ball can cause serious injury. The second problem is the exposure of the throwing hand while making a block. The throwing hand should be placed behind the catcher’s mitt to protect the throwing hand from any broken fingers. With my invention of Perfect-A-Block, I was able to create a training tool that enables catchers to work on the correct form of blocking by themselves. For a catcher, working on blocking usually requires a coach, parent, or teammate to throw them balls in the dirt, and then for that person to tell the catcher what they are doing right or wrong. Therefore, having the ability to work alone on having the correct blocking form is a huge step forward for the catching position.
Inventing Perfect-A-Block was a great moment for me, but of course, business and innovation costs money; and as a college student, money isn’t always at my disposal. Surely the costs add up with filing for a patent, filing my business as an LLC, and manufacturing costs. This is where Career Services and the S.E.E.D. Grant have come to help me tremendously. After struggling to find a manufacturer, I finally came across Infinity Products, Inc. located in Avon, IN. They have been great in helping me make my product into the real thing. To fund the manufacturing fees of the first part of my product, I applied for a S.E.E.D. Grant and was accepted. The S.E.E.D. Grant is for Wabash entrepreneurs looking for funding to help start their business. A student can receive up to $500 in funding. For me, this was definitely was a huge help. Because of the S.E.E.D. Grant, I was easily able to focus on the business side of things knowing I had the financial backing of the grant. As a result, the first part of my product has been produced, which is the mitt strap.
Funding can be a difficult thing for any entrepreneur, especially an entrepreneur in college. Having this opportunity at Wabash is great, and I encourage entrepreneurial students to take advantage of this. I would like to thank Wabash Career Services and the other members who have made the S.E.E.D. Grant possible. As I continue to work with Infinity Products, Inc., we are in the process of manufacturing the second and final part of the training tool, and, of course, I will apply for more of my S.E.E.D. Grant for help.
-Frank Ruvoli ‘13