JC Coban had dreams of playing baseball in the major leagues, until his dream was derailed by shoulder surgeries.
In 2011, JC was a top catching prospect from Boca Raton High School, He was recruited by many college baseball programs and ultimately accepted a baseball scholarship to Penn State University (PSU). After two years at PSU, he transferred to the University of Tampa to continue his major league dream. However, in his junior year, he had to undergo shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum. This was the first of three shoulder surgeries.
- Why did you create SlingShirt?
Since I was still away at college with my first surgery, I didn’t want to rely on my roommates (or my mom) to help me get dressed during my recovery. What was I going to wear for six weeks while wearing a bulky sling? How would I be able to do it myself and still be presentable for class? I did the research but there was nothing on the market. I experimented making my own prototypes and discovered that a one-piece shirt with magnets was the answer. When my surgeon and nurses saw the shirt, they thought it was a much-needed post-surgery clothing solution that no one had seen before. We’ve turned this shirt into a Boca Raton start-up company that is helping many people that are struggling with what to wear after shoulder surgery and in the sling. Thus, the name SlingShirt!
- What is the feedback from customers?
We’ve been fortunate to have sold thousands of SlingShirts to customers in all 50 states and have gotten very positive feedback. People love the fact that the shirt is easy to put-on and take off by themselves with one arm. They also love the material, comfortability and design of the shirt. Customers continue to send us positive feedback not only from their own experiences, but also from the surgeons and nurses that have told them this is a product they’ve never seen before. It’s so gratifying to be helping people recover from such a difficult surgery. I know what they’re going through. I’ve been there.
- How has it been to pivot from baseball to a business career?
Athletes always dream of a professional sports career, but we all realize that the dream is far from guaranteed. Luckily my parents always stressed the importance of getting an education. I knew after my second surgery that my dream of professional baseball was probably over. Sure, I miss putting on a baseball uniform and competing, but now I get a different excitement when I know that SlingShirt is helping patients get through their shoulder surgery recovery process. Yes, my injury kept me from my baseball dream, but because of that, I’ve been able to invent a good product that helps others. I guess it’s like making, “lemonade out of lemons.” I feel good about that.
- Did you ever think you’d be starting a successful business because of your injury?
Not a chance. This is a family business and I cherish the incredible advice I’ve gotten from my parents. I didn’t design this shirt to be a business. SlingShirt came about out of necessity. It only became a business after so much positive feedback from the medical community that this product is needed for so many people, I was shocked to hear there are over 1.4 million shoulder surgeries every year. From what I’ve learned, SlingShirt is a necessary part of the shoulder surgery recovery protocol. Patients need a sling, an ice machine and also a SlingShirt. Going through the process of finding a manufacturer for the shirt, applying for a patent, developing a website and a marketing plan, has been an incredible education. Starting SlingShirt has been my MBA.
- What’s the future of SlingShirt?
Only God knows. Business is good and continues to grow. I feel so blessed to have invented a product that has helped so many. I can only assume there is much more to come. Our orders come from our SlingShirt.com website and our SlingShirt Amazon page. We’re seeing more & more orthopedic surgeons and surgical centers recommending SlingShirt for their patients every day. As long as we keep educating orthopedic surgeons, surgical centers and rehab centers regarding the benefits of SlingShirt, who knows where that will take us.
For more information visit www.slingshirt.com.