Mechanical engineers are flexing their eco-friendly and business savvy muscles in the startup industry. Pratheek Palanethra was a mechanical engineering student in Bengaluru and is also passionate about cricket.
During his student years - studying for his Master of Technical Entrepreneurship at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania – he was sad to discover that there was really no cricket culture in the US. He struggled to find students who wanted to practice cricket with him. Instead of allowing it to perturb him it inspired him; he decided to engineer something to enable his practice.
He enlisted the help of his roommate Justin Jacobs, who was studying civil engineering at the time, and they began work on an affordable, non-electric bowling machine.
“We really wanted to be innovative the cricket market. Everyone’s going high-tech, we are going low-tech,” Justin said.
Usually, cricket bowling machines are quite expensive. In South Africa — where cricket bowling machines would be in high demand — a Paceman Pro Bowling Machine costs approximately US $932.
A new product ready to fly
Pratheek and Justin’s new mechanical engineering startup soon announced their eco-friendly, affordable answer to the bowling machine; they called it the Freebowler. The bowling machine is free from batteries, cords, and has no electricity ports on it.
What they produced was a purely mechanical product, fitted with a throwing arm operated via a spring, a ball cup, and more.
"The ball in the cup can be set at different angles and orientation using a knob that enables the batsman to play variations of lengths and swings," said Pratheek.
"The machine has wheels at the bottom to maneuver and is thus portable. It can be placed shorter than the normal 22-yard distance from the batsman. This way it enables the batsman to play different length and bounce at higher speeds."
The Freebowler costs approximately US $434. The Freebowler also matches, and in some cases, trumps other bowling machines' output speed: the Freebowler can launch balls at up to 140 kilometers per hour (87MPH). The Freebowler weighs in at only 23 kilograms. It's a perfect product for remote regions which do not have access to electricity or cannot afford conventional bowling machines.
The machine can take old cricket balls, new balls, indoor cricket balls, baseballs, and tennis balls.
Mechanical engineering for the betterment of sports could indeed be an area of growth with the Freebowler as the inspiration. The Freebowler website states:
“Machines that have this capacity to contort in a unique way, combined with an amount of storing convenience, environmental consciousness and adjustability not only show how far technology has come, but it also enhances the sport’s overall value.”
“Cricket Bowling Machine | Non-Electric Training Equipment.” Freebowler, freebowler.com/.
“This Startup Is Batting for Cricket Lovers with Its Portable Non-Electric Bowling Machine.” YourStory.com, 28 Oct. 2018, yourstory.com/2018/10/startup-batting-cricket-lovers-portable-non-electric-bowling-machine/.