Ever cut yourself with a knife in the kitchen? Pretty much everyone has – and I have found a simple, inexpensive way to protect professional chefs and home cooks from injury.
I am RJ Batts and I invented Tip Tough. I am 14 years old (soon to be 15) and when I was 12, I became consumed with the idea that there had to be a way to help my dad, a professional chef, protect his hands. He would often come home with cut fingers and it was painful – and sometimes it kept him out of work.
I developed the basic design and then added features. For instance, there are spikes on the bottom to hold the food and drainage holes for easier cleaning. Everyone who saw it said it was a great idea, so with the help of my family I began to find a way to get the Tip Tough into production.
Then I got a great opportunity. I was accepted into the Young Entrepreneurs Academy at the Salisbury (MD) Area Chamber of Commerce. For months I went to classes, on field trips after school, learning how to set up a business, find funding, craft a pitch, and bring the Tip Tough to market – all while taking middle school classes and playing on my soccer team.
With the financial support and guidance of my family, we invested in patent and trademark protection. Then we hired a local manufacturer and began selling a hand-crafted stainless steel Tip Tough in my hometown area. We – and I mean even my little sister Grace - sold 450 in the second half of 2016.
It got even more exciting when in October 2016 I received start-up funding from the Shore Hatchery Competition at Salisbury University, beating out grown-ups from 30 businesses for a Second Place award of $15,000. Then TEDCo awarded us grant money for the design and prototype phase of the Professional Chef and Home Chef versions of Tip Tough. And just this month (March 2017) I was featured as the youngest inventor at the International Home and Housewares Show in Chicago, and was chosen to pitch the Home Shopping Network's American Dreams.
My business, Picklehead, is manufacturing the stainless steel Professional Tip Tough with expected market release in June 2017. With the help of our Chief of Operations (my mom), Lori, we will apply for National Safe Food (NSF) certification so the Tip Tough can be used in restaurants.
But my vision is bigger than that, and this where you can help. I want to manufacture a plastic “Home Chef” Tip Tough that one day will be in every kitchen drawer, just like the potato peeler! Imagine all the hands we can protect!
I want to do it in plastic – it’s less expensive, which means we can produce several sizes including a small for kids and medium and large for adults. It’s lighter and dishwasher safe with bright colors that make it easy to find in a drawer.
My goal is to have the plastic version ready for Christmas – it would make a great and practical stocking stuffer. But that takes money: I need to create plastic manufacturing molds – which is expensive.
I need your help to get the molds made and get Home Chef Tip Tough into production.
I grew up in an area hit hard by the Recession. People think kids don’t notice that stuff, but it’s important to me and my family that Tip Tough is made in the USA, because we want to create local jobs for local people.
Please help me reach my goal – donate today. And please remember: Cut your food, not your fingers with Tip Tough!
Risks and challenges
Tip Tough is being introduced nationally at the International Home and Housewares Show in March 2017. The stainless version is currently getting high performance manufacturing dies made and the first run is expected to come off the line in June 2017. Picklehead will be selling the stainless version in retail and seeking NSF certification so restaurants can buy the Tip Tough for their workers and save on injury costs. We have invested all of our funding to get to this point and need the Kickstarter infusion of funds to move into the plastic version of Tip Tough. We have surrounded ourselves with SBA professionals, engineers, manufacturers, and business mentors so we are moving forward in a fiscally responsible manner.
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