Elijah Taitel ’22 (BUS), the creator of a revolutionary baseball-training bat with iterations for everyone from Little Leaguers to MLB players, won the Wolff New Venture Competition on Monday night.
“I am beyond excited and grateful to have won,’’ says Taitel, who was awarded a $20,000 prize to continue to advance his startup, Extra Base Sports. Taitel’s company competed with four other UConn-affiliated startups but the rivalry is a friendly one.
“The other teams are incredible. I have made so many great friendships that are so dear to me. I know the other teams are going to go on and accomplish amazing things because of the shear brilliance of the owners,’’ he says.
Taitel explained to the judges that he created the ProVelocity Bat after growing impatient with his progress as a high school baseball player, despite his parents’ significant investment in coaches and equipment.
“Hard work alone isn’t always sufficient to reach your dreams,’’ he says. Born to a family of entrepreneurs, Taitel created a bat with a sliding ‘power barrel’ that releases to the impact position when a batter achieves the desired speed. If the swing is incorrect or insufficient, the batter hears only one click. A double click indicates success. That audible feedback is one of the selling points of the bat, which has attracted professionals, private coaches and parents.
Taitel was one of 10 startup founders to participate in a “Summer Fellowship” business incubator last summer offered through the School of Business’ Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation (CCEI). With CCEI’s guidance, Taitel says he was able to make tremendous progress with his company and increase sales by 50 percent.
This month he introduced a youth bat for Little Leaguers, which represents the biggest segment of the training market. He is developing an app to augment the device, and looking at applying his technology to other sports.