Close this search box.

PCKL Podcast with CEO Mike Gottfried

PCKL pickleball podcast cover with a few different colored pickleballs and girl covering her eyes.

Last updated on November 21st, 2023 at 03:20 pm

Welcome to the world of PCKL Pickleballs and Paddles! In this Simply Pickleball Podcast, Mike Gottfried, CEO of PCKL, shares how he’s revolutionizing the pickleball industry with one-of-a-kind products that are taking the pickleball world by storm. This isn’t his first “rodeo” – he has built successful companies around games before – and he is doing it again! Find out what makes PCKL pickleball paddles and pickleballs top sellers in the market.

Listen on Apple

Follow us on YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts



People have preferences.Some people want power, some people want controls.Some people want forgiveness.Some people want something really light.Some people want something super heavy.So like, again, as you make this matrix of different variables, like there is no this is the best paddle and everybody should use it as it should be.


People should have the ability to make a choice.I’m Crystal Brown, your host.Do you have a preference for what ball you use when you play pickleball?Not to mention which high performing carbon fiber paddle you use?Well, Mike Gottfried, the CEO and founder of Pickle, is betting that you do and that it’s made by Pickle.He’s built some great brands in the gaming industry before, and he has his sights set on beating out his competition in the pickleball space.


Hear about his latest innovations and the current top sellers.All right now to the show.Welcome to Simply Pickleball.The podcast where we discuss all things Pickleball, the fastest growing sport in America and around the world.We are interviewing the founders, industry leaders, athletes, lovers of the sport that are driving the spectacular growth.


If you love pickleball as much as we do, listen in.All right.Well, Mike, thank you so much for joining today.I’m really excited.I’ve.I’ve been following your company.I’m really interested.I’ve played with the balls.I’ve seen the new paddles.We’re going to get to all that.But before we do, I would just love to know a little bit about you and have you always been a sporty kid?


Has it been important in your life?Were your parents, you know, encouraging you with Little League your whole life?Yeah, sort of.Enough.First off, thank you for having me.I have always loved sports.More specific, I’ve always loved games.


I have always been a game oriented person.Let that you know ping pong, video games, darts, cards, Monopoly.I love to play games and I love to compete in games.Like people sometimes don’t want to play Monopoly with me because I play to win and I looked for the.


Strategy though, that’s a really good distinction between, you know, you know, sports and games.They they crossover.But I’m glad you made that distinction.Yeah, I I have.Always played a ton of golf in my life.I think golf is an incredible game, particularly at the higher levels, because you’re playing your opponent, you’re playing the course, you’re playing against yourself.


Pickleball wasn’t always a part of that in my life, but in the last three years it has become my game.It is like this amazing game to get people together, their strategy.There’s athleticism, there’s, you know, in game adjustments, there’s winning, there’s losing, there’s reflection, there’s excitement.


And so, yes, all of the above.My dad was a tennis player.He, you know, put us, my brother, my sister and I, in tennis camps and tennis lessons and things growing up.It never really, I never got hooked the way I did on other things.Tennis was more of like a thing I had to do than a game for me.But ultimately I love it.


I love to compete.I love to have fun.I love to to, you know, improve and and see the strategy and all those different things.That’s awesome.Yeah, I am.I have never been a tennis player.I’ve always admired that people like it, but not not for me.So games has been a really big part of your life.You know your career as well, right?


So your last company had to do with games and maybe you can describe sort of, yeah, how you, how you cross those lives.Totally.I mean, I for 10 years out of college starting in 2000, 8 beginning 2009 when the economy was in the in the the dumps started a company, you know with a friend of mine from college building websites, ultimately these e-commerce sites and then ultimately marketing plans and and marketing execution for e-commerce focused businesses.


And that got me exposed to a wide variety of stuff.My next chapter after I was able to to sell that agency was to join a company called Control Freak.It was in the video game space and for me, I had learned in the agency world that when my client or my project was something that excited me, I frankly just did better work and I was more excited to go to work every day.


And so despite not being like a major competitive gamer or anything, this world of of video games and esports was incredibly vibrant and you know, energetic and had people and communities and personalities in it that made it exciting.And so having that I kind of got back into video games.


Then couple that with COVID when like the other games was like something I could do.I I I played more gaming games in that period of time and maybe some other times in my life.But but it was great and it it also exposed me to like hey this can be done.You can create a work working world, a working life around something that interests me and excites me and gets me, you know, energized and excited to to go and and do work and and interact with people every single day.


And so I’m really fortunate to be able to do that.That company sold and then now we’re in Pickleball, which again games, fun, exciting people, communities.It’s it’s great.Yeah, but it’s but your, you know background in building websites or e-commerce, you know that is is unique because whether you’re selling widgets or pickle balls or.


Or anything if you don’t have that background, you know it’s a harder mountain to climb because you know you can, you can really love sports and you can love, you know, building paddles which a lot of the paddle manufacturers and companies really are excited about the paddles.But to get it to market requires a whole different set of skills.


And so it’s interesting that you sort of started with those and and along the way, I imagine you’ve really had to apply what you knew early on.Yeah, for sure.I mean, it’s like there’s a saying that everybody should work in, like the service industry at some point point.I think if you’re ever going to be an entrepreneur or in any sort of sales or marketing, you should work in an agency setting because you get exposed to the inside of lots of different businesses and you can see the good, the bad and the ugly.


And you know, I didn’t have the foresight then.I didn’t really know what I was doing.But I would often take either notes or kind of write things down about what I saw on the insides of some of those businesses.Not like any proprietary things.You’re just like you know the types of products or how they handled shipping issues or this or that or the other thing.


And so by the time I got to, you know, starting what became Pickle, I had this laundry list of ideas and insights and was able to get kind of get build myself a framework for what I thought a successful company might look like once things got going.And so that’s.


Really interesting.That’s really interesting because I mean, even Amazon itself, learning how to advertise on Amazon, how to list on him Amazon, whether you need to hire an agency or not, how to get ranked.I mean that is no small feat.Forget everything else.That is a whole world and you’ve chosen to to sell on Amazon, We can get to that later.


But I mean did you already have experience with your last company working with SEO and you know social media marketing and paid advertising?Yeah, I did and I had been in it again from an agency perspective for a long time.But you kind of keep adding these experiences on to it.


And so once we got to the the control freak era, we had a large and growing Amazon business not just in the US but globally.And so you know I had to learn with again great people around me and A and a supportive team how to get a company to grow on Amazon, in the US, in the UK, in Japan, doing translations, doing advertising, getting inventory to all these different places.


We were running a business within the business and so we were not exclusive to Amazon, but Amazon’s a beast.I mean I think like you know over 50% of e-commerce transactions now in the US happen on Amazon.You can’t deny the fact that it is the largest retailer on the planet.And so learning how to navigate that ecosystem, educating myself, being able to talk the talk and walk the walk to.


I’ve always thought that from a team leadership perspective, right, that I needed to learn and understand what my employees are doing because it gives them, I don’t know, it gives me some credibility when I talk to them and ask them questions and dig into things that they’re doing.So they think that, you know, I’m not just coming up with this stuff willing.


Well.Also you can ask the right questions if you if you know what the end game is right or you can help mentor steer.So yes, I had an e-commerce business and a subscription box business in it.You you really learn.A lot when you’re packing those boxes and shipping them out yourself.


So before you got into pickle balls though, this company, what you were selling golf balls or maybe you’re still are selling golf.Yeah, Yeah.So I kind of mentioned this before, but when when Control Freak was sold, I got kind of set free to figure out what to do next.


And I had this vision.I had this sort of log, log of ideas.What I did first was I created a framework for what I thought the business was going to be.I sort of said to myself, I’ve got all this experience.I think I’m pretty good at this whole digital marketing thing, this e-commerce thing.


I don’t have a product.If you give me a product, I will figure out how to build a brand around it.And I obviously decided to start looking first at products in spaces that I was interested in, games, sports, that kind of thing.I played a ton of golf through COVID and fit golf balls fit into the framework that I was looking at.


Very shortly after I launched the golf ball company, I started playing pickleball.And I thought, well, if we can do this with golf balls, we can do this with pickleball.Fast forward like six months.Pickleball is the winner of the two.And I’m like, OK, now we need to focus.


We can’t do two things at once.The golf ball business still exists as a brand.But you know, the the secret is our team is very, very much 99.5% of our time is focused on pickle and on pickleball, while the golf ball business kind of exists in the background.


And so for me, golf Balls Piper was the name of the company Piper got us to pickle.It was not a waste of time by any means, but you could call it a pivot, maybe an internal pivot.As we sort of said, hey, this is the better direction to go for a million different reasons.


When did you first hear about pickleball or play yourself?Because maybe that’s so invited with all of this timing, I started.First time I ever played was, I think Now, probably 10 or 11 years ago, I my.Parents live with that because, I mean, in San Francisco, I can tell you like it was not.


No one was talking about it 10 years ago.Well, so we’re in Atlanta.It was not in Atlanta.My, my parents have split time between the Mid-Atlantic and South Florida for a long time and so this was in the winter in South Florida.We were out there club and, you know, my dad said we’re playing pickleball.


And I he’s like, you should come and go.And it’s a bunch of people between the ages of 60 and 85.And it looked like mini tennis.And we went out there and had a good time.And I remember, you know, kind of hitting it around with my dad again, who was a former tennis player.Like it was not like anything other than OK, these people have limited mobility and so we’re just playing tennis on a smaller court.


And then I didn’t really see it or hear from it, except for maybe from my dad here and there for a long time until really the peak of COVID.It was mid 2020, maybe May, June, July.Everybody was sort of still on lockdown.And we had joined a Golf Club in Atlanta and the Golf Club built 2 pickleball courts.


They turned there, what were their children’s tennis courts, these hard court, small tennis courts into two pickleball courts.And I had a couple of friends who for some reason or another knew the game.They were like way, way, way, way better than I was at the time.They knew all the stuff that I now know and we all now know about, you know?


Yeah.And you know.And so we started playing and I’m standing in the wrong places and I’m, you know, not really understanding the strategy or anything like that.But I saw it as this.OK, we’re on this lockdown for an indefinite period of time.Like this could catch on.


And I think a lot of people said that, and I think we were right in the sense that it did catch on.But I started playing, you know, then once a month, then it became once a week, then it became twice a week.And now it’s, you know, anytime I have free time I want.To I know it’s like, oh I have a free lunch hour.


OK, let’s go.But that’s, you know that’s it’s a really good point though that you know COVID, during COVID it started to get well known for all the reasons.But how many businesses, business ideas came out of it are also very interesting because you had to kind of have it in your head that and understand like, wow, there’s a trajectory here and I already have all the skills.


That I want and now I can apply it.But so when was that moment when you were like, OK, like I’m going to pivot or add on or transition and just say like I’m going to go full on and and were you like, no question this is it.I know I’m going to do this.Yeah.There was an education process of, First off, what are the products in this space.


Again, I was looking for a product or a set of products to kind of build a brand around and build a business around.So understanding the sort of mechanics of them, the sizes, the shapes, what they were made of, how they were made manufactured, who they were manufactured by, you know, doing a lot of sort of, I don’t know, preliminary research, Could this be done?


I went to a friend of a friend who was a senior pro pickleball player and took him out to lunch and just like asked him everything I could possibly think of and just unload your brain to me about pickleball.And like, from your perspective, is this a good idea?And he was like, yes, yes, go for it.


Yes.I’m telling you, I used to have three people to play with.Now I have 30 and that 30 is going to become 300.So that was really cool and to see his energy around.And again, like he was a little bit biased, right.He’s been in the sport for he was a former tennis player and had been playing pickleball for like 10 years, which that was an eternity, still is an eternity at this point.


And so once we kind of identified what the products we wanted to go after were, OK, it’s balls and paddles, it’s picks and shovels if you will, and got into sort of the sourcing and the economics of it and came up with a brand identity that was like the go point, right?Like I could see it, I could visualize it, I could talk about it.


And so once I felt the genuine belief in it, then it was the natural thing to be able to say let’s go.So the balls came out first.That was your first product you put out.We actually came out with paddles and balls simultaneously.So yeah, this was kind of early, mid 2022 when we finally got product to market.


We had our initial line of balls in a few different colors.We had three different paddles, which variations of are still available today, but there was this immediate rapid iterative process to continue to improve our stuff.So we came out with the Elite 40 balls about six or seven months later, which are now our sort of competitive balls that are our most popular by far.


And then we continued iterating on paddles and we’ve come out with a few upgraded and and new choices on the paddle front over the last, you know year, year and a.Half.Yeah, I want to.I want to dig into all those when you were coming up with those products and I I don’t.There’s this saying for entrepreneurs.If if you’re not embarrassed by your first product, then you’ve waited too long.


So of course it’s iterative, right?Like you, you have to put something out and get feedback.Were you getting feedback right away from players and constantly I learned.And you know, I’m not saying it wasn’t without embarrassment.It wasn’t wild embarrassment.But we quickly learned like there’s not one paddle for everybody, there’s not 3 paddles for everybody.


But who are we actually trying to talk to with each of these different products?Who do they fit?How do we articulate that where the first step for us was like fiberglass, graphite shape, color, there’s a whole lot more than that.


And so again learning the inside of literally the inside of the patterns, the materials, the manufacturing processes, the textures, the you know, grip applications, the weighting, the balancing, you know that was a go to school and really understand this inside and out so that we can make improvements.


And so like you said, you know we had to get out there with something and we kind of launched with this good better best idea and our best maybe wasn’t good enough and our good needed to be tweaked.And so anyway, it was all it’s a it’s a process, yeah.And then we want to stay ahead of it too.


So we don’t stop there, you know, once we’ve right.But did you?Focus on a specific market.And I’ve asked some other paddle manufacturers this question because, you know, you’ve got a huge number of people that go on Amazon and they just buy a couple paddles or a set.


They don’t want to spend a lot If they don’t know the game, they will spend more on balls and people are going to always buy balls.Maybe they’re going to buy less paddles per year or whatever.But did you focus in on like, wow, if I, we, you know, really double?Down maybe on your advertising or even your iterative process on one versus the other.


Yeah, no, I think, look, the reality is that there are many, many, many different styles and flavors of pickleball end users.There is everything from the I just want to get the cheapest thing possible to go out and play and give it a try to.I’m going on vacation with my family and we heard there’s a pickleball court and we just want to have fun as a family all the way up to pros, right?


There is no one solution for all of those and even within those subsets there are varying solutions when it comes to battles.Our take on it was we are going to do that hard work to make this simpler for you, the end user to figure out.


I think if you look at other sports, other games, they’re always going to be the major gear heads who want to get into the deep, deep nitty gritty of understanding what it is that they’re using.And then they value engineer stuff.And they’re not concerned with, you know, what it says on the package or you know, if there’s a mission behind the company or anything like that.


That’s not necessarily our target audience.Now we want to make great products that anybody at the highest level can use with our, you know, our newest pro series paddles are being used at the highest levels.But our approach was like, let’s take a more simplified, more informed and less convoluted, less dark and technical approach to this to try to bring some life and some vibrancy and some honestly like some magic to the game where it’s a little bit easier to understand.


And frankly, when you get out there, it just works, you know, despite the fact that you didn’t spend a ton of time researching the start level readings of the, you know, texture of the surface of the paddle.So.No, I mean, listen, I I think there’s a lot of discussions on Discord and Reddit and there’s paddle collectors and there’s, you know, people who just want to try every paddle.


But but primarily again, like what’s the biggest market to go after?And I and I, I guess I’m curious like for the ball industry, there aren’t as many competitors.Everyone needs to replace them constantly.They, you know, some are better or worse for hot weather, cold weather, Why not?


Just like really double down there.Like, why spread your time?Just curiosity, yeah.And share what you want?Because it seems to me like there’s less competition, even though that’s part of my set design.But there aren’t a lot of different, you know, good ball manufacturers and there is a constant stream of purchasing going on.


Yeah, we work on balls with more of our time than paddles and The Dirty, not The Dirty secret.The secret there is it just takes time.There is less of, there’s less infrastructure set up to simply just say let’s make balls, you can buy them from a manufacturer.


And so our work has been going and looking ahead to say OK we really truly want to make a better ball and we want to make a ball that performs.We’re not out ball but even a set of balls that perform in different conditions or again can look you know balls are polarizing right.


People pick them up they look at them they spin them around what is this side You know I missed that shot because the ball I play.So again, we’re not going to have A1 size fits all solution for absolutely everybody, but we’re trying to do it the right way.And so as we go back through my log book of companies that I worked on in the past including control freak, let’s take the time to do it right.


Let’s set up our manufacturing relationships and our tooling and our processes all the way that we want to.Let’s test it in the winter, let’s test it in the summer, let’s test it in between, let’s test it indoors and outdoors and get real consumer feedback.So there’s a an instinct to rush to market with something.


We’ve got great products out there, but now if we want to really go for the A+ in the ball market, we’re taking the time to do it the right way.And are there big differences in balls?I mean, yeah, there are.Oh yeah.I mean materials, different types of plastics, different hole patterns, honestly, the manufacturer’s quality, a lot of balls.


If you look at them, you’ll see.Hitting You’ll see bubbles inside of the balls.That could be the cleanliness of the tooling or the manufacturing that they’re doing.There’s little plastic shavings because the holes might be drilled as opposed to molded.


The balls sometimes are welded together, sometimes they’re produced as one piece.All of these things can affect performance.They can affect how balls play in different conditions.The firmness, the sound feel, the bounce.They little things, Even colorants in balls, can affect the way that they fly and they bounce and how they feel.


And so a lot of tinkering and a lot of testing.Interesting because again, there’s a lot of discussion around paddles, and I do want to get into your paddles too, but not as much discussion about what you just said because the average user just.Gets a ball.And then then eventually I I was playing in Hawaii and it was really hot and there was all ages of people.


And a couple of them, you know, if you pulled out the wrong ball in that heat, they’d say, no, I’m not playing.I’m not, you know, like.And then, you know, there was this joke where someone kind of went and switched the balls during the game because they were like, I cannot play with that ball.But, you know, because there is that subtlety.But understanding why there’s subtle differences like you just explained and even just like how much of it is coming off with all these fiber, you know, paddle fiber, carp.


And surfaces like what’s getting stuck in them and like the durability and you know, quite frankly as there’s money involved at the pro level and even a lot of the tournaments, there’s money on the line.So if the ball can impact or it’s cracking really easily or you know, I imagine the stakes are a little higher to create a great ball.


Yeah, yeah.I mean the stakes are high and every a manufacturer or engineer that we’ve gone to who is not familiar with pickleball takes a look at the kind of market leader set and is like really this is the best that somebody has done.Really.


They don’t know the performance aspects of it, the sort of, you know, feel, bounce, firmness, weather type of stuff.But strictly from a manufacturing standpoint, they’re like this is pretty bad.And so that tells me, OK, at least on that front there’s some improvements that we can do which will impact durability, which will impact, you know, performance in different climates and heat and cold and that type of thing.


So from those very early meetings, it was really exciting to me to say, hey, there’s something to done here.And I think that’s echoed across because there isn’t a perfect ball out there.And again, we may not be able to find one ball that fits them all, but we’re certainly going to, we’re not going to make ten of them, right.We may end up with two of them, and it might be for hot or for cold or something like that, but we’ll find the right solution and we’ll make it simple.


Yeah, so in in tournaments, I haven’t played in a lot of tournaments, but is there generally a ball that gets picked and that’s going to be the tournament ball and does that go all the way up to the PPA and MLP?No.I mean, again, the highest level players, including the PPAMLPAPP, they have a preference for like a very firm fastball.


As you move down to 353O25, those preferences can change pretty wildly, right?And there are tournaments that are played at the three O level.In fact, the bulk, the biggest fattest medias part of the pickleball pyramid is between 2.5 and 3.5.


And so there’s something to be said that what happens at the top of the pyramid flows downward.But at the same time, you know in other sports like in golf, right?I can see the driver that, you know, Rory McIlroy is playing with it, but the reality is that’s not for the everyday golfer.


And so I think there’s some of that too.And pickleball that you want to play like the pros, you want to emulate the pros.But what’s really best for you and your your friends and your community and the masses of people that are playing pickleball will have a a varying set of of preferences and circumstances that might dictate something different.


But do they pick one ball like, you know, per game, for example, if there’s money on the line and say like this is going to be, I don’t even know if they do that.And I know, I know, there’s differences involved.There are, yeah, sure there’s.So there’s like official ball of the the PPA tour, an official ball of MLP.


We are working with the Amateur Pickleball Association.Now they do 80 plus tournaments per year.They use our balls and they state that too.So when you enter the tournament, it says what the official ball is going to be.So if you want to go out, yeah, you want to go out and practice, you know which ball to practice with because there may be little subtle differences and you know, I it can make a difference to people and and I think that you should have that information up front, you know.


So again, there’s no like, absolute consensus across every single organizing body.No, but I think knowing that the tournaments often pick an official ball per tournament, it it’s motivating to try different balls to see like do you, do you feel the difference?And I and you really can.Tell the difference often or that first learning curve where you’re like, I think this is an indoor ball and where you’re playing on the outdoor, right?


Like everyone has that experience.Like I can’t hit an indoor ball outdoors.Like this is, yeah, this feels horrible.I don’t feel like playing.And I talked to Lee Waters recently, and she was telling me that during Kovid, they actually took.Played less.They were sort of in a bubble.


And then when they came back after the game had just speed up.There was more lead tape, there was the ball.Everything was just really fast.And so I think that also trickles down where the game is getting faster and faster and therefore the balls that people want to play with to keep up with that game, to make sure that they can really hit those shots.


It’s super important.So let’s transition into paddles for a second.Who knew that?We talked about pickle balls, but you know, again.Like that’s that’s a competitive market that you’ve decided to go into.It’s getting more competitive.However the pie is growing.


So it even if you have a smaller slice that’s just getting bigger and bigger.So there’s, you know, probably no shortage of need.But you know, what have you learned since you started creating paddles and and what you what sector are you focusing on?Things like that.So what I’ve learned is that again there are, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, right, That there there’s room for lots and lots of different products, whether it’s from the same brand or different brands, right?


Like there people have preferences, some people want power, some people want control, some people want forgiveness, some people want something really light, some people want something super heavy.So like again, as you make this matrix of different variables like there is no, this is the best paddle and everybody should use it as it should be, people should have the ability to make a choice.


That said, I think that paddle development is driven primarily towards a very vocal minority of informed consumers who you often see if you spend time on like online with pickleball.


These people are very in tune with and concerned with what’s happening inside the paddle, which again, the 95% of people out there playing don’t know about.I know some very, very talented highest level players who do not know the difference between T700 and T300 carbon fiber, right?


So like you’ve got to have both of those things in your brain because you’ve got to be able to understand the technical nuance of it, understand who it’s being made for and then bridge that gap.And so that’s again not to make it about us.But one thing I learned was like how do we bridge that gap?


How do we simplify it with pickleball paddles being an experiential product that you see, touch, feel and play with really before you can make a decision?How can we give people the most confidence at the decision making process or point of purchase so that when they get out there on the court, they’re not like, oh wait, I thought this was going to be something different or I don’t like it right, So articulating all those different.


Things So what did you, what were the paddles that that your most recent set of paddles like?You know what?Maybe you can share what they’re stuck with and what what you what you like about them.Yeah, so the Pickle Pro Series up, updated Pro Series.So we came out of the Pro Series when we launched the company.


This is the updated version of the Pro Series, the Pro Series 13 and the Pro Series 16.So first thing right off the bat, the 13 and the 16, those are the two different core thicknesses that it’s available in. 13 being a little bit thinner, a little more geared towards power, 16 being a little bit fatter, a little bit more cushiony and geared towards control.


So we immediately saw like that was a split within paddles and people should have the ability to make a choice between them.The second thing was the surface material.Again, we had fiberglass and we had graphite or carbon, but a lot of the highest level paddles were using this raw carbon material.And so this is a Toray T700 which is a really great manufacturer of high quality carbon fiber that’s used to make the surface of the paddle that has texture benefits for spin, but it also has sort of pop and power benefits to it.


And then the manufacturing process that it’s made with using sort of a heat press to make one piece.So if you were to take this edge guard off, it’s one piece of carbon fiber all the way down into the handle, reduces vibration, allows for like a little more solid hits on the sides of the paddle if you don’t get dead square in the center.


And so that was a decision we made there.We changed the dimensions of the paddle.We made a longer handle.People said I like a two handed backhand or I like a little bit of a tighter face.Again, choices, ideas, different things.You could go either way.I’ve seen handles that are longer, I’ve seen handles that are much shorter.But we made a decision on that too.


And so like we again, we spent a lot of time researching, talking, tinkering, sampling, resampling, getting the feedback.And so not to give you too much insight into the process, but we wanted a lot of user feedback that didn’t come from ourselves too.


And so going out to communities of players and getting people who were informed but informed enough and not too much to go and play with it and be able to tell us what they liked, what they didn’t like, what they felt, how they would change something even in the most, you know, sort of vanilla terms.


Not the ones who would say, well, I would change the way that the sheets of carbon fiber are laid on.Like we didn’t want that feedback, that feedback we can work with an engineer on SO.So that was the process and and we’re really proud of it, really excited about it.I love the green, by the way.I’m just such a fan of that.


Branding.Branding matters, and I think it’s awesome.But you know, even when, you know, I worked at a lot of tech companies and e-commerce businesses and I’ve raised money with investors, which I want to get to, but they always ask, you know what?How do you get customer feedback and what are the customers saying?


That is the first thing an investor wants to know is like, how much time have you spent?Because you can’t.At first you might build something that you are interested in, but eventually to scale, as you probably know, it really has to resonate with the consumer or the customer, and they don’t always.


Always have the same perspective.Often you get surprised where you’re like I had no idea that this, you know that that color Gray button on the website is hard for you to see, like it just didn’t even occur to you, right.So it’s great that you went out and got customer feedback and how are they doing now?


Like, how are you getting good feedback?Yeah, they’re doing great.They’re, you know, our best selling paddles on our site, not to mention Amazon and the rest of our retail locations.And so, you know, it did tell us, hey, we were right that there is this sort of, you know, the top of the pyramid does impact downwards.


And I think that the, the game has gotten to a point where it’s mature that yes, there are tons and tons of new entrance, first time players and you know, very casual players who I mentioned might you know play on vacation with their family.But now that there’s more people in the space and they’re ready for the next piece of equipment, you know, a budget level of, you know, approximately $150.00 for something that they can use for six months to a year or more starts to be a little bit more palatable than, you know, maybe a year and a half ago where people were trying it for the first time and the price points were like, Oh my God, like, is that really what I have to spend to get a good one?


I said I was playing at a park down in Newport Beach and and this guy pulled out a paddle that was $333.And I I liked it actually, but I was like, God, that’s really that just seems like we’ve really gotten to, you know, way higher than I would expect for.


I’m a recreational player and like to play and I’m competitive but.You know, and also I’m curious, how long do you think paddles really will last?I know it depends on how much someone plays, but the more people, I mean people just like we said, play as much as they can.


Yeah, so.What’s our expectation?Well, 2 two things in that question.First off, price points.Price points do matter and price points are all over the place still.And I do think that that probably does tie back to, yes, the the paddle itself, but also the brand and the experience that people want to have.


Some people want to buy a Ferrari because they want to have a Ferrari.And it may not be the best race car on the planet, but it says something about who they are, right?And I don’t, I don’t know, race cars.So, like, maybe it is the best race car.I don’t either, but definitely.I definitely know what it says about who they are.


It’s the, you know, it’s it’s if you want to get into the economics of it, you know, it’s sort of, I think it’s Giffen goods, right, where people will buy a three hundred $400.00 pair of jeans.It doesn’t make it necessarily a better pair of jeans, but in their mind, they have bought the best and the coolest and the most fashionable jeans.And so paddles fall into that a little bit, that there’s a wide variety of price points for what essentially may be pretty close to the same product if you were just take all the branding off of it.


On the other side of it, how long do they last?It depends how much you play.It depends how you play.It depends whether you throw it against the court or the wall.I think, you know, I think it’s pretty reasonable if you play twice a week, every week, that you would want to get a new paddle between six months and a year.


And I think there’s a couple of things that go into that which would probably be first and foremost, just general durability.Did something crack on the face?Did you play with it in the cold?Was it too hot?Did you leave it in your car?We haven’t had like the manufacturing issues that I know some other brands have had with delamination and those types of things.


And so again, as we went through our kind of initial product development process, we want to make sure there weren’t defects to it.The second thing like the surface can get smoother over time.And if you are super concerned with having like absolute maximum grit and spin on your paddle, like a paddle that is 8 months old will simply be a little bit more worn down than one that’s fresh out-of-the-box.


Now the, the carbon fiber we use is the highest quality.The, the tensile strength is very good.And so it does last longer than some competitors out there.And the other part of it is that the interior, that polypropylene cord, literally every paddle has, right, It does compress over time and can get a little bit softer.


And so again, if you lose, pop on your paddle over time, there’s there’s something scientific behind that.And again, like that depends how hard you hit the ball as a player.Are you slamming every single thing you can find?Are you playing with a super firm ball in super cold weather like that repetitive motion can.


I know it’s funny.I I mean, I was talking to pro light paddles.It’s one of the oldest 40 years you’ve been around.And he was talking about how that interior core was something that Boeing engineers thought of, you know, 40 years ago and that everyone’s still using that core.


And I think most paddles, you know, besides wooden ones are.And the question is, how does a player know if?It’s compromised and it’s sort of like, you know, like with ping pong paddles, you could tell they get all worn out.You can see the rubber’s falling off with your running shoes or your pickleball shoes.


You can see the.But it’s harder with pickleball paddles.And I it is, yeah.When you can’t see the inside of it, right, you start to maybe question like is it in my head or you know, but I think you can yourself say like the ball just doesn’t feel like it’s coming off with the speed or the power that I may be used to.


I’ve not changed myself, at least that I’m aware of.And so maybe, you know, it has been time and answer, like, how long have I had this?Or even to to grab one from a friend and just say, like, how does this feel to you?Or you take theirs and say, how does this feel to me?So it’s never going to be perfect.There’s not like, some way that you could look inside.


You know, we haven’t developed, like, what was it?The toothbrush.This.The toothbrush strip.Right.That’d actually be a good one.That was like, OK, it’s time to replace your toothbrush, time to replace your paddle.So I do think you have to ask yourself, like, how frequently do I play and frankly, how much does it matter to you?Right.Like, do you need absolute optimum peak performance every single time you play?


Ben Johns changes his paddle every two days.He said.So like there’s something to that.Other people like they’ve probably been using the same one for five years and they can still get the ball over the net.That’s a really good point.I mean it really depends on what your desire is and just that there is an expectation that it you know that that over time these materials are not going to be exactly how they were when they came out-of-the-box and that’s really up to you I imagine.


You know, yeah.So I think that’s good and and for people that really like different types of play, I mean some you know I’ve played with really competitive groups of four and then I’ve played with more casual and you know, and sometimes I do like.To switch my paddle Up just to kind of feel differently about it and also just because I like to try different paddles.


So yeah, I’m curious, you sell on Amazon, you sell on your website and you said you’re also in some retail stores, which you know, I I wish there were more opportunities for players to demo paddles.It’s it’s often really hard to figure that out if you just played a local rec, but you figured out ways to get into retail.


I’m curious what retail stores and how that’s gone.Yeah.So our, our largest national retail partner for now is the PGA, a Superstore.And so they, yes, they’re known for golf, but they used to be the golf and tennis warehouse.And so every single one of their stores has a pretty sizable tennis section in the back and they’ve converted roughly half of that section to Pickleball recently.


So they’ve got 60 ISH stores nationally and they’re going to be, you know, maybe 100 or more of them by, by the end of 2024.So they’re expanding and they’re trying to do for Pickleball and for tennis what they’ve done for golf.Like if you ever walk into APJ Superstore, the one side of the store is all golf hitting bays, right.


So they’re golf simulators.You can try everything in the store.In a lot of the stores, they’ve already built a pickleball court in the back.And so they’re going the way of they understand if they understand golf and the experience with golf, which again, like you can say whatever you want about the club, but sometimes it just feels right to you.


They understand that with pickleball too.And so you know there’s there’s a a national demo kind of Ave. that we’ll take with them both as a, you know, retail partner and then also as a little bit of a facility too.So these people can go there.We’re in a ton of different sort of 1 off and two off type of smaller shops, whether that’s private club pro shops, pickleball facilities, racket sports type of tennis shops.


So we’ve got you know a large and you know growing number of those individual accounts as well.And so I think again, like the pickleball endemics are few and far between, right?Like even a lot of pickleball facilities don’t have a pro shop, so you can’t necessarily go and try stuff.


So we’ve had to think very creatively and using our partnerships to be able to say how can we get this out there and in the hands of people to be able to try before they buy.And it’s not easy.There’s not again, no, like one quick solution that that covers all of it.We do have.Yeah, Sorry.


Go ahead.No, no, I was no, I was going to say that that I do think as more facilities open they will be interested in having more shops and that you can definitely see that.Yeah we’ve we’ve got one here outside Atlanta called Ace Pickleball Club and they’ve got plans for franchises all over the country.But one of the services to their members is a large paddle demo program.


If you remember they’ve got a wall of like 30 different paddles that you can try that they keep in stock.So that’s another way to do it is again partnering with those types of folks.We won’t be the only brand and there we don’t expect that but we want to be amongst the set there And then on our our own stuff what we can control is anything that’s purchased from our site has a 30 day money back guarantee.


So like you can buy it, you can return it if you don’t like it and then our warranty as well.So like, you know, kind of the buy with confidence you’ve got a limited lifetime warranty against all defects or anything that breaks.That’s great.That’s great.So So what are the next products that you guys are working on?Again, like you kind of have the main that people are just going to need them over and over, especially the balls and maybe the paddles, but are you thinking of other products?


Balls and paddles will always be at the core, but then we’ve got sort of the everything else and so we’re really excited you know accessories, right, I think that for people to.Literally live to take a lifestyle.There’s a lot of other things we can offer bags, paddle covers, you know, other accessories, hats and clothing, right.


We’re not a clothing company, but there’s branded apparel that you know, people can again live the lifestyle there, you know.And then we’re looking at a lot of other smaller accessories that maybe go along with that.We launched this past year our paddle weights, which are the stick on weights that can add different weighting to your paddle and again.


Make our paddles a little bit lighter because you can always make a paddle heavier.You can’t make it lighter and still looking at things like maybe it’s, you know, grip tape or edge taper or over grips or other accessories that people are using for the game itself and you know.There’s no sort of stone left unturned of what we could make.


It’s our responsibility to say should we make it, can we do it in a way that fits our brand, fits our consumer message and and fits our business model too?Yeah.So tell me a little bit about that.You you took some investment outside investment, some companies do, some Don’t you have a vision for where this might go?


You know, is it going to be then?I can’t even pronounce this right.Like Titleist, like where everyone has ever heard of it or you know, it could also be a great brand that grows and you get profitable and you have to spend time with your kids and your wife and you know there’s there’s different paths you could take for the brand and I’m just curious what vision you have for that.


Yeah, I I got my investor.He’s my advisor.He’s my friend, but he’s also my sort of like business role model.He has this mantra that you take care of the business, so the business takes care of you.And so, like, right now, my focus.


Beyond any 7/10/15 year goal is to take care of the business so the business can take care of us in the sense that we won’t have to worry about do we have a future we won’t have to worry about.Everybody’s got to go out and get a new job we want to turn.You know this entity into something that can be sustainable for the people who have put their time and energy and effort and money and other things into to have it succeed.


And so I would say like that’s the simplest answer is take care of the business so the business can take care of us.What that means in the future, Yeah, that you know, profitability great self sort of sustaining in perpetuity like that could be the option.And if you’re taking care of the business like that should yield a great outcome.


And then who, who’s to say what could happen, right.There may be consolidation in the pickleball world.There’s a bazillion.And there’s only, you know, I don’t know how many can survive and exist, or maybe they all can.So that’s a little bit of a wait and see.Yeah.And what about internationally, we, you know we touched on that a little bit before.


It just I know that it’s growing internationally into Europe, into parts of Australia, certainly Asian countries, South America.How interested are you in kind of you’ve done that before, right?You did that before with your last company.It’s exciting.


It’s attractive.I think we.We live here, we work here.It’s easiest to do business here, but when there’s not restriction on us doing business elsewhere like we’re going to look at it and we’re going to evaluate it and we’re going to go to those places.And so we launched first on Amazon Canada and now we’re in Australia and the UK, English speaking countries first I think then both from a marketing perspective but also from like a cultural.


Impact perspective, right.Oftentimes what happens in the US spreads to English speaking countries first.So yeah, we’re going to continue to grow internationally and and do what we can there and we can’t force the game to necessarily grow in those places, but if it’s starting to show traction.And there’s not, you know, a business reason to not exist.


We’ll be there.That’s what I’ve heard that it really is taking off in a lot of those countries and I know that with Amazon and they do make it easy actually to start growing.But then on your end you have to figure out how to market.So it’s just sort of spreading your time.And I think that’s the entrepreneur’s dilemma like how do you stay focused and then add in as we can and any other things on the horizon are you guys, I know you guys got a little bit involved in collegiate pickleball, which I am super excited about.


I think that’s sort of a marker for the sport when when you have college playing it, playing it.I think, yeah, that’s that’s a great one.We launched just about a month ago our Pickle on Campus program and so we’re partnering with sort of the on campus clubs, right.There’s not varsity teams yet.And so a lot of these are driven by either club sport or literally just a club of people who have gotten together through, you know, a GroupMe or some other app to go play pickleball on campus.


So equipping them with, you know, the equipment that they need to to get a club started, Paddles, balls, some accessories here and there.And then, you know, again, doing whatever we can as a brand to support their growth.We’re doing talking about doing things like a college Invitational tournament and inviting some of those clubs to Atlanta or somewhere else in the Southeast and doing a little, you know, not SEC because we’re not part of the SEC but like SEC championship or something like that.


And so these are the, this is the future of the game, right?Like it’s a it’s a cliche, but like.You know these these people are our future.They are the future, right?And Pickleball’s growing and the participation is growing and and is getting younger by the minute, it seems.And so.My daughter, she’s seven.


She plays, she loves it.My son, who’s four, he can swing it, but he’s not really hitting the ball over the net yet.We’ll get there.But they love it and they frankly want to play because mom and dad are playing too.And it’s so being being an entrepreneur and and being busy and running a company.


And I know from my own experience that there’s there’s always more to do.How are you finding balance in, you know, setting down work and going to play or spending family time?And, you know, because it’s like you really could work 24 hours a day on this business.


I could.You got to make time for yourself.I do make time for my family, and I try the best I can.Both my wife and I play pickleball, and so that usually means that the two of us can’t play at the same time, which is a shame.Like a lot of my play is happening like later at night now, which is good and bad, right?


If I can find a way to play from 8:00 to 10:00 PM, I’ll do that same time.Like sometimes I’ll play at 6:00 AM and be home actually in time to take my kids to school.So I have to either sacrifice work.Family time or sleep, I guess A lot of times I’ll choose sleep and then, you know, maybe a babysitter here or there, but live by the Google Calendar.


I would say it’s if it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t exist.Yeah.Yeah, no, that’s great.Well, I’m super excited about your brand.I like I told you, I love the branding itself.I love the quality.And it’s really great to see just you know some great minds coming into the space and bringing it where it needs to go.


And what I found interesting doing a lot of these interviews is it really comes down to the ethos of the business and the of of the sport race.It’s it’s because everyone wanted community and connection that it grew and now it’s becoming a much bigger business.But it hasn’t lost that community or connection or ability to reach all ages and all all backgrounds so.


That’s that’s the best part.Yep.I’m friends with so many people through Pickleball that I never would have found otherwise, 100%.There’s this park in San Francisco near us.There’s a lot of controversy with it, but we can get into that another time.But you know, I can see a lot of engineers and people that work from home, tech people and they’ve been in their home all day by themselves with their computer programming or doing something else, marketing, whatever they’re doing.


And then they come out and they’re so happy to just immediately have that drop in connection in a kind of a lonely space.And there are a lot of people I’ve never would never met.And then they’re talking about things and jobs and careers that are really interesting too.


So I I I hope it doesn’t lose that.But I’m excited about the younger generation coming up and I think you have an opportunity, even with youth and high schools, that’s going to be right behind the college.So well, keep me posted.If there’s anything we can do, it’s simply pickleball.


Let me know.Everyone should subscribe so they can follow and and make sure and I’ll put all the links to your products and the show notes and I hope that you’ll come back when you guys are you know you have your super pickle superstores all over in every city.Anytime even before that I’d be happy to chat again.


So thank you again, Crystal, and I appreciate you having me on.Yeah, awesome.Thank you, Mike.All right.Hey, guys.Thanks for listening to Simply Pickleball.We will be back very soon with great interviews, discussions and more.All about Pickleball.Don’t forget to subscribe to our channels on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram or any of your favorite podcasting outlet.


Until next time, happy dinking.


Latest Blogs

Converting Tennis Courts for Official Pickleball Play

How to Play Pickleball on a Tennis Court

Last updated on March 9th, 2024 at 08:26 am Ready to play pickleball but only have a tennis court nearby? Converting a tennis court for pickleball

How long do Joola pickleball paddles last? Image showing a pile of paddles

How Long Do Pickleball Paddles Last?

When it comes to pickleball paddles, their longevity can be as variable as the game itself. Typically, paddles can last anywhere from 1 to 5 years

SwingVision AI being used to record a pickleball game

SwingVision Pickleball AI App Review

Unleash your pickleball prowess with SwingVision Pickleball AI! Discover the power of swing analysis, shot tracking, and more in this ultimate review.

Best Portable Pickleball Nets

Top-Rated Portable Pickleball Nets

Are you searching for the best portable pickleball net? This article cuts straight to the chase, helping you compare top choices based on portability, quick setup,

Hey, Wait!

Want to save up to 15% off your next paddle?

Unlock free discount codes by subscribing to our weekly newsletter