Lerner College alumni bring a new product to the golf market
1:39 p.m., Oct. 16, 2012--Two University of Delaware alumni from the Class of 2009, Louis Girifalco and Marc Reda, are only a few years out of college and already have found entrepreneurial success with a golf product called Rope It.
Rope It, a golf ball attached to a bungee and nylon line, was originally created by Girifalco’s father, John Girifalco, when Louis was six years old.
Farm 'perfect fit'
“My dad was an avid golfer and would practice by hitting nets, which would frequently break. So he started tinkering around with golf balls and rope. He modified the product for over 20 years. When I graduated, we started setting up shop,” Girifalco explained.
Both Girifalco and Reda received degrees from the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics and took advantage of business-related programs offered on campus.
“The Entrepreneurship Club played a big role for us in college,” Girifalco recounted, “My freshman year I entered the business plan competition run through Lerner College. I submitted a business plan for the Rope It.” Girifalco placed second to a group of MBA students.
The Rope It utilizes a real golf ball attached by a metal eye screw to a bungee rope and nylon cord. “If it were all bungee it could come back and hit you, but with the right combination of nylon the ball can fly naturally and return to the ground safely,” Reda explained. “The ball spins freely around the rope and can fly naturally, which can help gauge shot direction.”
Girifalco met his business partner, Reda, in college. “We played cards together,” Reda said, “There were about 30 of us and we all became good friends. Louis and I were friends all throughout college.”
It occurred to Girifalco and Reda just before graduation to team up. “Louis showed me the Rope It and I thought it was a great idea. So we developed it more after graduating and looked into product liability insurance,” Reda said.
Reda and Girifalco now distribute the Rope It to major retail stores. “Our goal is to sell one million Rope Its. We want to expand our product line for different sports, too. The plan is to make this business an annuity for us,” Girifalco said.
The business partners chalk a lot of their success up to the experiences they had at UD. “We developed a lot of really strong relationships, which we still have today, and learned a lot about what we are now doing,” Reda said. “It’s a top notch school. We think that Delaware is on its way up and we hope to contribute to that with our efforts,” Girifalco added.
U.S. Sen. Chris Coons held a press event Oct. 5 at Kent Sussex Industries (KSI) in Milford, Del., to announce KSI as the new manufacturing location for Rope It. “KSI employs people with mental and physical disabilities. We thought it would be a good partnership since the Rope It is made by hand,” Reda said.
Also, Girifalco will be visiting campus for the Entrepreneurial Studies Program open house at the Venture Development Center, 196 S. College Ave., to tell his story and answer questions. The event is Friday, Oct. 19, from 12:30-1:30 p.m., with a free lunch.
Article by Sarah E. Meadows
Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson and courtesy Rope It