This month we asked entrepreneurs from the Blackstone LaunchPad at the University of Montana to share with us why they wanted to START SOMETHING of their own.
An interview with John DiBari, founder of SoftHit, batting practice and fielding training balls for baseball and softball players.
Tell us what motivated you to want to start your own business.
I didn’t really expect to start a business. At the time, my then 10-year-old son and I would practice batting in the driveway. I was having a hard time finding a suitable practice ball—a ball that is soft, safe, long-lasting, and actually looks like a baseball—because that product didn’t exist. I figured if I needed a ball like this, other folks did too. While I was looking online for a suitable ball I saw lots of lousy websites. I thought surely we could do better. That was the genesis of Soft Hit, LLC.
Who are your biggest influencers? Were your parents entrepreneurial?
My parents were not entrepreneurial. I think they may have thought they were, but they could never pull the trigger and own their own business. Actually, I have no idea who influenced me (and my wife and son) in terms of starting our business. It was a bit of a leap of faith, but we figured we were smart enough to figure it out. So far, so good.
Share with us the biggest lesson you've learned so far.
Sweat the small stuff.
What has been your most rewarding accomplishment (brag away!)
Our most rewarding accomplishment is the fact that we have extremely satisfied customers, which has enabled our business to grow and develop and thus be able to reach more parents, players and coaches.
Some say that starting a business is like having a baby. What does that mean to you?
I have personally never given birth, but I expect that doing so is much more painful than starting a business. However, operating a business is a lot like having a child. It requires constant care, feeding and nurturing. It also requires diaper changing, because inevitably poop happens and someone has to clean it up—and that someone is you, the business owner. Operating a business is also rewarding, just like rearing a child. Like a child, your business achieves developmental milestones. And when it does, it makes you proud and brings a smile to your face. As the parent of a now teenager, who sometimes keeps me awake at night, my business can also keep me awake at night. There are so many small things that a parent has to do to ensure a healthy, well-adjusted child. The same holds for a business. You just have to hope and pray all your efforts pay off.