In baseball, pitching has always been an art form. From hurlers like Sandy Koufax, to Randy Johnson, to Clayton Kershaw, all famous mound dwellers know exactly how to throw the perfect pitch, regardless of who’s at the plate. But every great pitcher started by learning sound throwing mechanics.
Entrepreneur John Schiller has always had a love for the game of baseball. He played in his younger days in Little League and in high school. As a parent of two daughters, he coached fast-pitch softball and helped one of his daughters become a collegiate softball player.
In August 2015, Schiller established ICUplayball, LLC in Fenton, Michigan. The venture is currently a home-based business, but Schiller, who works for the state of Michigan, has plans to expand in the near future.
“I decided on the name ICUplayball to attract people who play baseball and softball,” Schiller explains.
The small business is twofold as it has two main areas of focus. The first revolves around a product called the Throw-Medic™ that Schiller has been developing for some time now.
“It’s basically an overhand throw training device,” he says. “It simulates an actual overhand throwing sequence from beginning to end. I have been told by a former-Major League Baseball pitcher and a renowned physical therapist and nationally-certified pitching coach that this is a cutting-edge device.”
He currently has a patent pending on the unique device, which is designed for kids ages 7 to 12. It can be used at the ball field or at home and is height adjustable to adapt to different users. It has a long tube with a slider on it that allows for a full range of motion for the user. The slider travels down the tube and twists in various ways as it moves.
In addition to helping young baseball and softball players improve their throwing technique, Schiller also hopes it will serve as a tool for those going through physical therapy and rehabilitation.
The other part of the business involves offering pitching and hitting lessons for softball players – mostly girls between the ages of 8 and 18.
Small Business Competition
Based on his in-depth research, Schiller has not come across any other devices on the market that provide all of the features of the Throw-Medic™.
“I know there have been attempts by others to patent similar devices that are more limited in nature,” he says. “There are other throwing trainers that are handheld and have a baseball attached to a string. But there’s nothing out there with the detailed nature of this device that I’ve found.”
Once finalized, the Throw-Medic™ will be available for purchase at www.icuplayball.com and www.throwmedic.com. But Schiller hopes to expand its availability through other sporting goods market venues.
Challenges of Starting a Business
Like his fellow entrepreneurs diving into business ownership, Schiller admits that he has endured a number of challenges in getting both ICUplayball, LLC and the Throw-Medic™ off the ground.
Learning the manufacturing industry and what’s involved in prototyping have both been new for me,” he says. “I’ve also had to learn about importing goods from other countries, the ins-and-outs of shipping, and more.”
Guidance for Aspiring Small Business Owners
Thanks to his own journey, he offers up some tips for entrepreneurs who aspire to be self-employed some day.
“First off, save up some money ahead of time. It’s also great to ask friends for help, but always be leery about this because you never want to lose a relationship over something that goes wrong with your business. In hindsight, I would’ve done more research on prototyping before getting started.”
Experience as a Client of 1-800Accountant
John Schiller says he has been satisfied with the small business tax services he has received from 1-800Accountant.
“Not having an accounting background in business taxes has made this support helpful,” he says.