UD student works with alumni entrepreneurs to create golf product add-on
3:08 p.m., May 3, 2013--After sharing their entrepreneurial experience bringing to market their golf product, Rope It, with the campus community last fall, University of Delaware alumni Louis Girifalco and Marc Reda have partnered with UD mechanical engineering student Chris Hazel to develop an add-on option for the original device, creating the Rope It Pro.
The business partners currently distribute Rope It, a product originally invented by Girifalco’s father, John, as a simple alternative to a hitting net and more convenient than going to the driving range.
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Today, the product has developed into a 20-foot long bungee and nylon cord attached to a real golf ball using a zinc-plated screw eye.
Business partners Girifalco and Reda met in college and teamed up before graduation to further develop the product and now distribute the Rope It to major retail stores. They also shared their success story with the UD community last fall.
Hazel, who attended grade and high schools with Girifalco, had a chance meeting where the two got to talk about the business and future plans for the Rope It. Hazel offered his skills and resources as a mechanical engineering student to help develop an add-on option to the original device, creating Rope It Pro.
With a basic design plan, Hazel approached Jenni Buckley, a mechanical engineering professor, to serve as a mentor for the project.
“I was immediately intrigued by Chris’ enthusiasm and the potential for an engineering student to utilize what he has learned and apply it to a real-world product,” said Buckley. “It is a Delaware story with a growing company and the department is excited to collaborate with others and help out in any way that we can.”
The design has developed to include an accelerometer that would be strategically attached to the Rope It to measure the flight path using specific algorithms. Essentially, when a Rope It user hits the ball, the data from the accelerometer will be transferred to a graph and then to an application that Rope It golfers will have access to. The app will be able to simulate the flight path, how far the ball would have gone and other determinants so that the user will have the most accurate knowledge in real time of how the golf ball was hit.
Rope It Pro and the Department of Mechanical Engineering are still in collaboration to further develop the technology and plan to have a prototype by the end of the summer. If everything remains on schedule, Rope It Pro will be available to users by next season.
In the meantime, Rope It Pro will potentially be introduced on Kickstarter.com to help raise funding for the project. Kickstarter.com has amassed great success by allowing innovative thinkers to post their idea or project on the site and if people like the idea, they can pledge money to make this happen.
To learn more and to test out the Rope It Pro, students and faculty are invited to visit the North Green on Wednesday, May 8, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., where they will be able to test out the device.