Since he was identified as one of the most promising entrepreneurs at UConn this summer, Elijah Taitel ’22 (BUS) hasn’t rested on his achievements.
His company, Extra Base Sports, is preparing to launch a new youth-sized version of its popular baseball/softball training device called the ProVelocity Bat next month, targeting players between 8 and 13.
He has also created an app that will empower users to benchmark their achievements against other athletes, and provide them with guidance on how to train in an effective manner.
“Beyond selling them an instructional device, I’m offering them a full-fledged training protocol and a guided plan to help them become better athletes,’’ Taitel says.
“It’s incredible that not too long ago I was tinkering with a wooden dowel and some PVC pipe, and now that product is being sold worldwide,’’ he says.
Entrepreneur Competing for $20,000 Prize
Extra Base Sports was chosen as one of five UConn-affiliated startups to participate in the Wolff New Venture Competition in October. The grand prize winner will receive a $20,000 award in the competition, hosted by the School of Business.
UConn has supported Taitel with many entrepreneurship opportunities, the most recent being the Summer Fellowship bootcamp offered by the School’s Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation (CCEI). Taitel says the mentorship, professional advice, and guidance he received from successful, local entrepreneurs was invaluable.
“Hearing about their experiences gave me a broader perspective on my business,’’ he says. “I can get very caught up in the month-to-month numbers, and hearing how they focused on the big picture and overcame their struggles was very inspiring. I made some good friends, and mentors, and I’ve kept in touch with them and found some helpful collaborations.’’
Building a Global Reputation
Extra Base Sports is now selling $35,000 in product each month. Taitel has used a combination of influencers and social media advertising to target his audience of promising young athletes. Although he directs the product to U.S. consumers, the bat has been sold in six other countries, including New Zealand, Australia and Taiwan.
Taitel, of Short Hills, New Jersey, was born into a family of entrepreneurs in the exercise-equipment industry. His grandfather created Landice treadmill company, later sold it, and Taitel’s father and a friend repurchased the high-end exercise company. Elijah began his own foray into entrepreneurship as a high school baseball player who wanted to develop a more powerful, well-refined swing.
What makes the ProVelocity Bat unique is 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 the swing was in the targeted range.
The immediate, audible feedback is one of the selling points of the bat, which has attracted the interest of the Tampa Bay Rays, an MLB slugger, and numerous private coaches and parents.
Taitel is pursuing a dual-degree in business and engineering through the MEM program. As he enters his final year at UConn, he is facing a big decision: whether to focus on his career as a full-time entrepreneur or to pursue a more traditional career path. Time will tell.
Extra Base Sports is one of five startups competing at the Wolff New Venture Competition on Monday, Oct. 25 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. The winner will receive $20,000 toward their new venture. To learn more about the competition or to register to watch the live presentation online, please visit: https://ccei.uconn.edu/wolff-new-venture-competition/