Benjamin McEvoy’s uncle started the financial fire, but UML’s DifferenceMaker offers the fuel to keep it blazing.
McEvoy, a junior business major with concentrations in finance and entrepreneurship, has been racking up wins as a DifferenceMaker competitor with partner Edward Morante and their idea for an inclusive combination of baseball and cricket, Benji Ball.
“My uncle is a financial planner in Pennsylvania, and he really generated the initial interest in investing and the stock market,” says McEvoy. “Since then, finance has always fascinated me.”
The idea for Benji Ball began to take shape in 2015, when McEvoy was with his family at York Beach in Maine.
“Two kids were playing wiffle ball, and it looked like an awful lot of work to chase down the ball yourself and then go all the way back, pitch it again, chase it down,” he says. “It was about playing with a limited number of people and being uncomfortable.”
McEvoy grew up in Dunstable, the son of a school teacher, and a bureau chief for Administration & Finance – IT for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
College was a choice between Bryant University and UMass Lowell. He made up his mind when he visited the Manning School of Business.
“One of the things that was important to me was a Bloomberg Terminal,” says McEvoy, referring to the computer software system enabling financial professionals access to real-time financial market data. “So when I visited here, there were Bloomberg Terminals, and they blew the ones at Bryant away. That, and I grew up watching UMass Lowell hockey.”
Eventually, he’d like to be a venture capitalist or work in private equity.
“I’ve always wanted to start my own business. Everyone does the lemonade stand, and I certainly did that."
At UML, he embraced the DifferenceMaker culture.
After learning of the program in his freshman year, he revisited the idea for Benji Ball in June 2018. He had been volunteering in the special needs community and with Best Buddies and saw his game as a way for special needs athletes – often relegated to the sidelines – to be able to play using a multisided ball and bat/paddle hitting device that he developed before college.
They entered two DifferenceMaker competitions and won both, including the top spot, as Campuswide DifferenceMaker. The victory netted them $6,000.
“We plan to put it toward the actual production of Benji Ball,” he says.
In late June, he found a manufacturer in the area “perfect for what Benji Ball needs.”
McEvoy spent the first part of the summer at DifferenceMaker boot camp, refining Benji Ball (he and his DifferenceMaker teammates continue to work on the product for design details and durability) and learning more about entrepreneurship. He’s spending the second half of his summer interning at his uncle’s firm in Pennsylvania.
McEvoy is anxious to move on working with his manufacturer to make Benji Ball available, “since I have a list of people who want to buy it.”