The Rising Star Student Entrepreneur Award, now in its third year, was created in partnership with the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship to highlight innovative and resourceful students already running their own businesses. 2017’s winner is R.J. Batts of Picklehead, LLC in Salisbury.
In a world of high tech gadgets, R.J. is cutting into the kitchen tools market with a low tech, safety-centered item. The idea for Tip Tough, a metal finger guard designed to provide safety and security when slicing and dicing at work or at home, came to him after his dad, a professional chef suffered a severe cutting injury on the job. R.J. researched for a solution, but couldn’t find anything like he envisioned. By the spring of last year, he had perfected his design and using the nickname, “Picklehead,” that his dad had given him, he launched his company to bring the Tip Tough to market.
He’s fresh off a trip to the International Home and Housewares Show in Chicago where he was featured in the Inventors Corner and garnered interest from Bed Bath and Beyond. In just one year, he has sales of nearly $10,000 through local stores and his website and has an order in process for 8,000 units, valued at one hundred twenty thousand dollars. All this at the ripe ol’ age of 15. Yes, 15 !!
R.J. has gained valuable knowledge and support by participating in the Young Entrepreneurs’ Academy through the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce, winning $800 in their business plan competition and receiving $15,000 from Salisbury University’s Shore Hatchery business competition. He’s also working with the Maryland SBDC – Eastern Region to improve his manufacturing processes and expand his product line to include lower cost plastic and child-sized versions. He credits mom, Lori, with keeping him on task and not letting him stray too far from his studies.