Anyone who has ever cut their finger while cutting or chopping food may want to thank RJ Batts, the 15-year-old inventor of Tip Tough®, a simple and inexpensive way to protect professional chefs and home cooks from injury.
When RJ was 12, he became consumed with the idea that there had to be a way to help his dad, a professional chef, protect his hands. Bob would often come home with painful cuts and bandaged fingers which sometimes kept him out of work.
A year later, 3-D printouts in hand, RJ was accepted into the Young Entrepreneurs Academy at the Salisbury (MD) Area Chamber of Commerce and formed his company, Picklehead LLC. For months he went to classes and 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 attending middle school and playing on his soccer team.
In October 2016, RJ 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 Picklehead the Rural Business Innovation Grant for the design and prototype phase of the Pro Chef Tip Tough® in stainless steel and the Home Chef Tip Tough® in molded plastic. In March 2017, RJ was featured as the youngest inventor to present a product at the International Home and Housewares Show in Chicago, and was chosen to pitch to Home Shopping Network. Since then, he has brought his product through the manufacturing and packaging process while honing his skills as an entrepreneur by attending the inaugural HSN’s American Dreams Academy.
RJ’s business is driven by 3 core values:
Families and friends should be able to get into the kitchen and prepare, fresh healthy meals safely. Food is love and memories are priceless.
Our products will be made in the USA because we believe in local jobs for local people.
Give back to the community by encouraging students to invent and start their own businesses. RJ speaks at local schools and career fairs and works with the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, Junior Achievement, Halo, and the MD Food Bank.