Tim Davis, The UPS Store president presents a check to Henry Cervantes, founder of BallSkate.


Local entrepreneur skates to financial boost

By Kevyn Burger

Admit it. You’ve daydreamed about accepting one of those giant mocked-up stunt checks.

Enrique “Henry” Cervantes got his hands on one, but it didn’t come from the Minnesota Lottery and the dude from Publishers Clearinghouse didn’t bang on his door.

The Minnesota entrepreneur won $5,000 as the prize in The UPS Store Small Biz Salute event, held last week in Minneapolis in honor of the nation’s 53rd annual Small Business Week.

Cervantes is working on developing BallSkate, which is described as a “revolutionary technological advancement” to inline skating. Using a patented internal braking system, BallSkate uses spheres, positioned between mounted concaved rollers, in the place of wheels.

The UPS Store Small Biz Pitch Competition brought together four local entrepreneurs who had to sell their product to a panel of experts, with 175 local entrepreneurs and small business owners looking on from the audience.

Three of the entrepreneurs had been selected before the evening at the Minneapolis Event Center. The fourth spot was filled with an on-site contestant, who happened to be Cervantes; he had heard about the competition on a poster two days before the event.

His pitch caught the eye of the judges, which included Andrew Amoroso, SBA deputy district director.

Cervantes plans to use the windfall for product R&D and to raise additional funds.

“The prize money will be used to begin our crowdfunding strategy,” Cervantes said in a press release from The UPS Store. “We need continued funding in order to complete the technological and design work for BallSkate, such as paying for the injection molds and the first small runs of our final product.”        

BallSkate has been accepted as a participant in the University of Minnesota's New Product Development and Business Development course.  

“The goal of the collaboration with the university is to provide the engineering documentation and the business strategy for our product, proving that both the technology and the business model are sound,” he said.