The Bite is Right
Jon Kittelsen likes to say that he founded his company in 1995 and launched it in August 2009.
That month, Kittelsen’s Minneapolis-based company, Bite Tech, introduced a new mouth guard for athletes that he says not only protects the wearer, but improves his or her athletic performance. Bite Tech’s new “Performance Mouthwear” is designed to keep athletes from clenching their jaws while exerting themselves. Though clenching is natural, Kittelsen says (citing studies) that an excess amount of it triggers hormones that can result in fatigue.
Those 14 years between founding and product launch, which were spent mostly on research and development, didn’t hurt the company’s prospects. Bite Tech is marketing its mouth gear through Baltimore-based Under Armour, one of the hottest sports gear companies in the business. Mendota Heights–based Patterson Dental, the largest distributor of dental products in the U.S., is the exclusive distributor of Bite Tech’s products in the U.S. In addition, more than 1,000 professional, collegiate, and Olympic athletes are currently using Bite Tech’s products. Some of those athletes, including Minnesota Vikings players Adrian Peterson and Bernard Berrian, have also invested in the company. (Bite Tech also has introduced another product, a mouthpiece for non-contact sports such as baseball, golf, tennis, cycling, and running, that includes the “ArmourBite” design.)
Thanks to deals like these, Kittel-sen says that Bite Tech is on track to do more than $6 million in revenue in its first fiscal year.
Kittelsen founded Bite Tech after leaving Plymouth-based Shock Doctor, a Minnesota company he founded in 1982—three years before his high school graduation—under the name EZ Gard. As a teenage hockey player in Roseville, Kittelsen created a mouth guard that he found more comfortable to wear and easier to remove when not needed. Shock Doctor didn’t wish to pursue Kittelsen’s idea about a fatigue-fighting mouth guard, so he cashed out to start Bite Tech.
Bite Tech has quickly grown from one to 50 employees, and it now has offices in Europe and Canada. Kittelsen plans to introduce Bite Tech’s products to a wider market. “We see this technology working for the military, police, even video game players who want to improve their scores,” he says. “It really has the ability to change people’s lives.”