Best seat in the dugout

Brian “Mike” Beneduce ’16 is creating a new twist on an old pastime.

The student-athlete launched a new company and product called Bucket-Back—an attachable backrest that transforms a bucket of baseballs into a chair. In baseball, people sit on buckets typically because they need to be up closer to the front of the dugout to record the outcome of plays.

“I thought of the idea less than a year ago, when we were down in Winter Haven, Fla., for the beginning of our season,” said Beneduce, who is a first baseman/occasional designated hitter on Wheaton’s men’s baseball team. “During one game in particular, four players who were keeping charts and score cards complained of lower back pain while sitting on buckets.”

Beneduce, who also suffers from occasional back pain, set out to develop a product that would eliminate lower backpressure for those in the dugout.

Thanks to his efforts, Bucket-Back was born. The attachable backrest, made from nylon and canvas material bolstered by aluminum bars, weighs 1.65 pounds and can hold up to 300 pounds. He has obtained a provisional patent, thus the patent currently is pending for his invention.

Beneduce’s endeavor brings together his two loves: business and baseball.

An economics major at Wheaton, he has developed entrepreneurial skills at two internships he completed at Northwestern Mutual Financial Network and Morgan Stanley—both in Providence.

“Although I have had to work hard my whole life in order to play baseball at the college level, the workforce is an entirely different realm that I was introduced to at a relatively young age,” Beneduce said. “Trying to start my own insurance business for Northwestern Mutual and working under a group of financial advisors at Morgan Stanley gave me the opportunity to appreciate and understand what it takes to run a successful business.”

Getting these internships required perseverance and a drive to succeed. “It took me four e-mails and two phone calls to even get the attention of someone at Morgan Stanley, who had previously told me that there were no positions available,” he said. “Had I not learned how to both fail and succeed during these two experiences, I don’t think I would have had the mindset to take my Bucket-Back vision into action.”

Beneduce’s teammates are proven to be fans of Bucket-Back.

His teammates on the summer recreational league George Donnelly Sunset League in Newport, R.I., utilized Bucket-Back and found utility and comfort. “It is honestly entertaining for me to watch people’s reactions when they see the Bucket-Back because of its uniqueness and innovative nature,” he said.

Also, his teammates at Wheaton are encouraging and positive. “They are both supportive of my entrepreneurship and feel that this product can be successful,” he said.

These same teammates voted Beneduce as captain of the team in 2015, in part because of his strong leadership skills both on and off the field, said Eric Podbelski, head coach of baseball at Wheaton. “Mike is of the highest character as a person. He’s well liked among his teammates and has an easygoing personality and very good people skills,” he added.

So while Beneduce is happy with Bucket-Back so far, he said he will continually seek out both positive and negative feedback to improve his product. Using constructive criticism to advance his business is an important part of being an entrepreneur, he said.

“As my time as a college student winds down, I will look for ways to improve my value in the workforce so what I accomplish makes a lasting impact on people,” Beneduce said.