I’m starting a new project. Actually, I’m starting a new business.

One of my goals, as yet unrealized, for this blog was to chronicle stories of entrepreneurial success. I wanted to interview entrepreneurs and talk about how they started, what they’ve done to get where they are, and what they’ve accomplished (money made, employees hired, etc.).  I just have not had the time to get around to it, though I still think it’d be a great idea.

What I will now do is blog about my own story of starting a business. 

Right now I have an idea… Two ideas, really, but they are being combined into one business. Both are ideas I came up with while trying to solve my own problems. I am now at the point of prototyping them, and then I will test the prototypes.

The first problem I am trying to solve is this: My son is a pitcher and, as he’s gotten older, it has become increasingly dangerous for dear old dad to catch for him when he practices. When a kid is young, throwing 40 miles per hour, even if he puts one in the dirt and it ricochets off of your body, it’s not a big deal. Small bruise. When suddenly that same kid is six feet tall, has man muscles, and is throwing 70 to 80 miles per hour or more, that ball in the dirt hurts like hell. In the meantime, as he’s aged and grown, dear old dad has also aged and may not be quite as spry as he once was. Secondarily, when kids are catching for other kids during practice (no batter, just pitching practice) teams are limited by the number of catchers and catcher’s gear they have. A ball in the dirt hurts a kid just as bad as it hurts a dad. Few teams have anywhere near the number of catchers as they do pitchers, and time to rotate all the pitchers through a practice session when there is one or two kids who can catch is a problem. It isn’t easy to pitch, and you need to practice.

My simple solution is to build what amounts to a shield with a built in face mask. The shield sits on the ground, and the dad can kneel behind it (find me a dad who still goes into a catcher’s crouch and I’ll show you a young father). It has a cut out so the arm with the glove can reach around the shield. It has a built-in face mask so the dad can see the pitch, but his face is protected. It allows him to catch any pitch that is catchable, and to simply stay behind the shield and let it take the blow when one hits the dirt in front of him. Obviously, this could also be used by other kids in practice. (NEVER with a batter, though. It’s OK for balls coming at the catcher from the pitcher, but is not designed for taking foul balls off of a bat… that’s the warning label/liability issue). 

The second problem I am solving is this: I like to work out at home, as well as at the gym (I do CrossFit). I work out in my garage and I need a weight rack (for doing squats, pull-ups, presses, dips), but I’d still like to park my car in the garage (which is already crowded). 

My solution is to build a foldable weight rack, that mounts to the wall. Hinges allow it to folded up so it takes up less than a foot of wall space, but when unfolded from the wall it is a heavy duty, three foot deep by four foot wide by seven and a half feet tall weight rack, complete with accessories (which can obviously be removed and stored next to the wall) for pull-ups, dips, and even  lat-pull downs. The big name in CrossFit weight racks has a tag line on their home racks that is, “We believe in street parking.” I don’t. I believe in having great equipment and still being able to get the car in the garage.

I am literally about to go out and start building the prototypes in my garage. I know there are a lot of steps I need to take, aside from prototyping, including patent applications (I’m trusting y’all who read this blog not to steal my ideas). My hope is that, working in my garage, building the prototypes, and then, after a bunch of intermediate steps including finding a way to manufacture the products (in the good ol’ USA), to begin selling them online, utilizing relatively cheap website and social media to begin with, then grow the business. (I can give you a lot of reasons why I’m taking this approach, and probably will in subsequent posts).

I know my ideas are good. They solve problems that are not merely problems for me, they are problems for many other people like me. (How many dads are in my position with their kids pitching? And CrossFit, as well as simply weight training, is a large and growing market.)

As I chronicle this entrepreneurial adventure, I will post about what I’m doing, I’ll post pictures, and I may even post video. I hope you enjoy observing the process. Advice is welcome!