How To Invent & Launch A Game w/ PaddleSmash Founders Tim & Scott – #41

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The Brand Builder Show
How To Invent & Launch A Game w/ PaddleSmash Founders Tim & Scott – #41
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Have you ever wondered how to get a brand-new product to market?

Or thought of launching something on the back of a fast-growing trend?

If so, then this episode of the Brand Builder Show is a must-listen! 

We sat down with Tim & Scott, founders of a new backyard gaming concept PaddleSmash – a Pickleball style game that is soon to hit retail stores across America.

In the episode we talk about market research, product development, marketing and much more!

⭐️ EPISODE LINKS ⭐️

> Save 30% on a PaddleSmash set with code BEN30 

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Ben Donovan  00:00
Hey guys, welcome back to another episode of The Brand Builder show. We’re in for a treat today. We’ve got Tim and Scott, and they are launching a brand new business. There’s so many facets in this product development, product creation, marketing, and it’s gonna be a fascinating episode. Tim Scott, welcome to the show today. Thanks so much for coming on.
 
Scott  00:20
Thanks, Ben. Great to be here.
 
Tim  00:21
Thanks,
 
Ben Donovan  00:22
guys. It is really fascinating to me, partly because I have seen like the pickleball craze over the last sort of 12 to 18 months I’ve been following it because I love racquet sports. I love any kind of sport. But seeing how Pickleball is absolutely blowing up in the US is really interesting. And you guys have a product that is kind of related to pickleball. Right? Talk us about what this product is what this new businesses, and then maybe we’ll get into some of the backstory of your journey, and then swing back around to this new business. But just to kind of give everybody a bit of, you know, whet their appetite for the episode. What is this new business you’re launching?
 
Scott  01:02
Tim, you go first. We use it. So good at this. But Tim was waiting for me I’m I would go I would love to talk about it. So paddle Smash. It’s like the love child of pickleball and Spike ball. So you just said Pickleball is booming. Why isn’t it taken off in the UK? Or is it it’s just not at the same speed?
 
Ben Donovan  01:23
Yeah, we were talking about this before we hit record. Like there are places you can play this somewhere. 10 minutes from me. I looked it up, you can play but it’s like, you know, repurpose tennis court indoors? I think part of it is the weather here sucks, you know, everywhere I seem to see on Instagram, everyone playing Pickleball is like Laguna Beach or somewhere like really cool and sunny. And, you know, whereas here, it just rains all the time. So I don’t know maybe that’s it, but it’s starting to but there’s other sports like paddle. I started playing paddle. Yeah. Which is really picking up steam as well. So yeah, I got high hopes for pickleball in the UK.
 
Scott  01:59
Yeah, I bet. I would bet on it to get big there, too. The one downside is that it doesn’t play well on the wind. And I think you tend to have some windy environments there. So it’s tougher. It’s huge here. We knew it was huge here. I love playing pickleball. I played it for two hours this morning. And so, you know, Tim and I were on the lookout for what was the next project for us. And I’m like, you know, I’m spending all this time playing pickleball. I’m like, man, there’s something here. There’s something that happened in here and pickleball. We also, you know, we’ll get to our backgrounds, but have seen them the success of a game called Spikeball, which for those that don’t know, it’s kind of around net, you’re playing two versus two. It’s kind of like a volleyball meet sort of this round net in your bump set spiking the ball. And, man, that’s been the best success story in outdoor games in the last 10 years. And so for us, we’re always looking for these trends as like both of our backgrounds has been a little trend hunting and trying to answer trends. And so we saw both of those trends. And we’re like, oh, man, maybe there’s something where you kind of take elements of both of those games, we actually sketched it out on a napkin kind of had an idea of the very early stages of an idea ready to explore when I was introduced to an inventor who had created essentially what we were thinking about. And it’s always a good sign. When that happens, you’re like, all right, there’s something in the ether, like, kind of we’re all thinking about it and circling around it. Now we have to just be the first to get it to market or one of the first so that the essence of our idea is those two ideas combined, you are hit using paddles, you’re using a pickleball. And you’re trying to bump set and smash a ball back into this this hard plastic court. Once you do that successfully, the other team has to do the same bump set smashed back in and it’s kind of back and forth pape, play passing back and forth. But you’re playing around a hexagon shaped base with a net system coming up. So you’re kind of circling around that you’re not set in a position. And it’s just like it’s buckets of fun. It is one of the best, most fun things I’ve ever made, honestly. So that’s a little bit of a quick teaser for what the game is.
 
Ben Donovan  04:12
Yeah, it is definitely there’s so much I want to get into here. So I do want to hear about your background and what’s led you to this point before we pick apart some of the details. Because you mentioned about inventing, you know coming up with ideas. You guys are have a pretty entrepreneurial past from what I gather.
 
Tim  04:33
So I can share mine just start. So I was actually originally a software entrepreneur. And I’d read an article in Ink Magazine that talked about the creation of a game that was a party game that became really popular here in the States called Cards Against Humanity, I think, got pretty big in the UK as well. And so this article kind of laid out the blueprint for how those guys had kind of taken their game to market. They’re just like Um, high school buddies that that had done that. And so it’s like a fun kind of passion project. And the nights and weekends, there was a game that I’d been playing with family and friends that like Lake houses for a couple of years, late at night, when you’re just bored and looking for something to do that I thought, Oh, that’s interesting. Like, I think I could take the game that I’ve been playing, and turn it into something a little more official, based on the roadmap that was laid out in the article. And so I went ahead and launched that and ended up getting a did a little kickstarter campaign and got funded, didn’t, you know, blow up like you’ll see some of these go crazy on Kickstarter. But it was the first win and kind of got the ball rolling. And through that, I actually was introduced to Scott, who, at the time, he had started a company called marbles, the brain store, there are retail locations that carry toys and games, focused mostly on brain health. Still questioning what free health Scott but either way, he liked the concept, and, and decided to carry the game. So that’s how we met and I can get Scott can tell a little bit more about his background. But that that took me into the Bitcoin game space. And that’s where I’m planning on focusing the rest of my career.
 
Ben Donovan  06:19
And what happened with that game. Did it continue successfully?
 
Tim  06:23
Yeah, so the software company just going back a little bit first. So software company was acquired by LinkedIn. And then the game, it’s all five came out with a few different versions of it. And it was ultimately picked up by so what happened was, the game did kind of take off. And it was ended up being carried in like Target and Walmart, and Barnes and Noble, some of these, like really big retailers here in the US. And that just kind of got the attention of some of the bigger players in the space. And so there was one in particular, that was pretty hot for it. It was a private equity backed coin game company here in the United States, and ended up acquiring the company. And so I sold that off as well. And so
 
Ben Donovan  07:08
it’s a game called.
 
Tim  07:09
It’s called utter nonsense. And the concept behind it was very simple. You had two sets of cards, you’d have accent cards and phrase cards, phrases, were just kind of like silly sayings, basically. And then the accents would be just like you’re imagining, you know, British would be one example of an accent. There’d be like a redneck accent, there was an adult game. So some of them are a little more aggressive. But you basically would have like, the card for that round could be like a pirate accent. And so everyone had to go around and pick one of the phrases in their hand to say in a pirate accents, like, or maybe like, whatever, you know, whatever the things said. And there’s one person who’s the judge that just subjectively decides on who they like the best. So again, just a silly, silly game, but it struck a chord here and end up doing pretty well.
 
Ben Donovan  08:00
People. I often think about a game of being once you’ve got the idea, it’s quite easy to produce. Is that the biggest challenge is the idea or is there some other challenges beyond that?
 
Tim  08:13
I would take the other side of that argument. I think execution is the is the really complicated part, the ideas easy. It’s not easy to have good ideas. But yeah, as someone who I think comes up with a lot of ideas. I just think the execution really is the more complicated part. I mean, in that particular instance, it was a little bit easier, because it was literally just a deck of cards. So there wasn’t a whole lot to it as far as that goes. But there’s still manufacturing of it, the marketing of it, the distribution point, you know, there’s just, there’s still a lot of moving pieces there. So yeah, I may take you there.
 
Ben Donovan  08:53
That’s good with us tonight. And then in just in terms of the exit like we talking life changing here, or just a step in the journey.
 
Tim  09:03
Yeah, I’d say more. So I mean, between the two it kind of let me choose my own path. I’ll put it that way. Like not not enough to like more, I’m done working. But just were like, I don’t have to work for somebody else, you know, so
 
Ben Donovan  09:18
Awesome. And how about you, Scott, how did you come into this journey?
 
Scott  09:21
Yeah, that different route than Tim. But I ended up getting kind of hired into a business incubator in Chicago. They were hiring young, scrappy, we’re entrepreneurs. None of us had an idea, that point it was like, Hey, come in here. We’ll give you guys an environment where you hopefully can come up with good ideas and we’ll potentially invest in it. And so we were there kind of always coming up with concepts throwing them up on the wall, I don’t want to  pick it apart and decide what was worthy of going forward. We’d even write our ideas on it like a goldfish cut out the idea of being Like how to treat your ideas like a pet that you weren’t afraid to kind of flush down the toilet, if it was, if it had passed on is like, treat your ideas the same way, don’t fall so in love with them that you’re not afraid to flush it down the toilet.
 
Scott  10:13
And we came up with this concept around brain health. It was like all this neat emerging science around brain health. And then there was this fear among baby boomers with cognitive decline. And we’re like, alright, well, maybe there’s like an answer to this fear. But no one was aggregating it together in one spot. So we opened the location in downtown Chicago, called Marbles, the brain store. And the premise was, we’re going to give you a bunch of amazing products that are good for your brain. And some of it was toys and games, because we’ve been told by a bunch of neuroscientists and occupational therapists that they were using games in their practices to help people. It was like a thing that they their patients would be willing to do over and over. And so as it evolves, you know, we started with one location in downtown Chicago, over 10 years, we grew to have over 40 locations across the US. But it definitely evolved into more of a toy and game focused concept, because that’s what people were buying in our stores. They weren’t buying the $500 software, they weren’t buying the supplements, the pedometers, they were buying toys and games. And so we became a 20 end game store. And we’re known in the industry for kind of a rising star in that space. We were a bit of like a Kickstarter, where we were on the on the lookout for up and coming brands and companies. Usually companies just like Tim, where it was like their first game, and their only game, and they hadn’t been anywhere yet. And we were the kind of the spot that we wanted. We wanted to be a place where people launched their ideas. And brain health was still at the core, but it was maybe a little less, less important. You know Tim’s I would argue that Tim’s was brainy in a way. But it wasn’t like it wasn’t scientific brainy. So that was the idea we grew, we launched a bunch of fun brands, ultimately, we sold kind of the whole concept was sold off to a big Canadian company, multibillion dollar publicly traded company in Canada called Spin Master. They’re the fourth biggest toy and game company in the world. So they kind of swallowed Marbles up, spit a bunch of it out. And, you know, it still exist in its own form, but not the way it was with me. I worked there for three years, and then kind of got the itch again to kind of be off on my own, or be much smaller. And so that’s, that’s where Tim and I met back up and kind of vowed to work together again, at some point. We hit it off when we were working together my shops and thought alright, we’re going to find something to do together just a matter of time. And so we started looking aggressively call it a two years ago. And this is kind of what led us together.
 
Ben Donovan  12:54
Yeah, nice. Good. Yeah. Let’s pick up that journey. Then Paddle Smash, called Arrivano. Paddle Smash.
 
Scott  13:01
Yes, Paddle Smash.
 
Ben Donovan  13:08
So two years ago, you kind of started really on this journey. Talk to us about, you know, the evolving concept when you decided on this particular one. Why did you decide and how did you go through that iteration process, ideation process, of, you know, product research, etc.
 
Tim  13:23
So this one was somewhat unique, Scott and I, for the most part will actually come up with concepts ourselves. And little backstory, it’s got me already mentioned this, but we’ve been kind of circling around doing something with pickleball, and had sketched up something that looks very similar to what is paddle smash now. And we thought, that’s all we had, though, was just like this idea on paper. And a few weeks after that, Scott was actually introduced to a gentleman by the name of Joe Bingham, who is a structural engineer that lives in Utah, not too far from where Scott lives. And he and his seven kids love playing pickleball. And the problem was pickleball courts, like everywhere today in America is that they’re always crowded. Even though the there are a lot of them. They’re still not everywhere. So he was traveling 20 minutes away, to have to play pickleball with his family. And just being that structural engineer, kind of brainy guy who likes to tinker. He’s like, I’m going to try to figure out something we could play in our backyard. And his kids used to love playing Spikeball. So he kind of had that as like an inspiration. He’s like, but you know, more wanting to do something on the pickleball side of things. And so Joe actually created He’s the inventor of Paddle Smash. And he created a prototype that was pretty slick. It was like, glued together a big piece of plastic and he’s kind of Frankenstein this thing together, but ultimately made a really nice prototype that he played with his friends and family and neighbors for a while and wanted to commercialize it wanted to bring it to market didn’t really kind of know how to do that. And that’s when he was introduced to Scott.
 
Tim  15:06
And so just kind of a very fortuitous moment where we had just been talking about, you know, wanting to do something very similar. And then here was, you know, this gentleman who had already figured out all of the details. So it would take us a long time to kind of determine the dimensions. And I don’t know, there’s just a lot of stuff that he figured out on his own through trial and error and gameplay. And so we said, okay, great, we’ll do a licensing deal with Joe. And so that’s the arrangement that we have with him is that we licensed the the idea from Joe, he gets a royalty based on sales. And then Scott, and I take on all the risk, and we are the publishers of the game. So, so that’s a little bit of a of the backstory.
 
Tim  15:52
And so then from there, we had to, although while Joe did have the kind of complete game figured out, it just wasn’t ready to take it to market. It was something I think it was like 60 pounds, it couldn’t be set up on shelves or anything like that. So we really had to like start from scratch in terms of like designing it for retailers designing it to be shipped and making it available for for mass market. So we hired a design and engineering firm, like a industrial design firm that could then take Joe’s concept and turn it into something that you know will be able to mass produce, sit on shelves, etc. So that was about a year long process. And then just basically a few weeks ago, about a month ago, we are actually now live in the market.
 
Ben Donovan  16:41
On sale?
 
Scott  16:44
On sale. That’s correct
 
Ben Donovan  16:46
Nice. They shipped to the UK, I want to pick one up.
 
Scott  16:51
We do not yet know how to get one to you. But we’re not shipping to consumers yet. We will at some point. But yeah, we pick our mark.
 
Ben Donovan  17:04
Yeah, yeah, definitely. Yeah. Are you just doing wholesale in the US or so you’re not doing direct to consumer?
 
Scott  17:10
No, actually, we actually went into this planning to do direct consumer to launch. Both Tim and I obviously have a lot of experience with wholesale. And know the benefits and costs of doing wholesale, I’d say obviously, the benefit is you get mass exposure, the cost is, is they don’t have a lot of patience for your product number one. And number two, it’s just really hard to get into these mass market retailers. You know, Tim got his game in, I’d say like, if that was an exception to the rule, it’s usually a lot of begging a lot of waiting. And so we wanted to kind of, you know, the direct consumer opportunity has really made it so it’s easier to get in front of consumers not as as reliant on on mass market retail. And so we knew that and decided to direct consumer was our route. So we launched our own Shopify site, and our own Amazon store about a month ago, and are having some nice success on both of those channels out of the gate.
 
Scott  18:16
But we also recognize the value of wholesale and of brick and mortar retail. And so their buying cycles require us to get in front of them now. Though, they’re picking product for next summer, next fall. And so we started to do just a little bit of cold outreach. She says, like, we didn’t have any, we didn’t have any relationships really in this space. I spent my time in Toys and Games. And we were really thinking our product is more for sporting goods stores. And so we were like kind of doing this blind outreach, we were tracking down buyers on LinkedIn, and kind of calling in favors to friends that we knew had product in sporting goods stores, and then sending emails completely cold. And I’d say we like in many ways have lucked out. Luck is a funny word, because so much of luck is you know, like you can spread out your surface area of luck by sending a lot of emails out and that part of our luck, part of what makes it work for us is that we’re riding the coattails of two very successful products. Pickleball every buyer in the US right now buying in sporting goods is full aware of pickleball. I mean, I’m sure their bosses are saying find anything out there that’s pickleball related because it’s booming. And then they’ve all written the wave of Spike ball over the last 10 years in the US. It’s been a massive success for the sporting goods stores. So for us to send an email that says we’ve created a product that merges spit at pickleball and Spikeball. They were like, Yeah, take my money a little bit. I mean, it took some work on our end and then you know, it’s not a done deal, but we are in Dick’s Sporting Goods deep biggest sporting goods retailer in the US this fall will be in protest. So it was kind of a fun thing. We sent the email out, we got an immediate response back and they were like, come to Pittsburgh, and present to us in person. And we’re like, All right, let’s do it. This wasn’t the plan. But let’s do it. So we flew out there and presented thinking if they took it, they would take it for next spring or summer. But they almost immediately reached back out and said, Listen, we want to, we want to expedite this thing. We think it’s got real legs, we’re putting it in, in select stores this fall. So they’ve picked up their top 20 stores in warm weather states. And they’re putting it into those stores for this fall. And then the hope is that we’ll roll it out to more stores in the spring. So yeah, direct consumer was our plan with mass market to follow. It’s kind of happen now that we’re doing both at the same time, in many ways.
 
Ben Donovan  20:54
Yeah, wow, that’s a good sign, right? It’s really picking up steam really quickly is an amazing sign. So that’s super, super exciting. We’re just stepping back. And because there’s so many, I feel like we could do a podcast episode on each of these areas, but just talk through product development. And then I’d love to get into the marketing side as well, what you’re doing on the marketing front, but for a product development perspective, because a lot of our listeners will maybe you create and sell products that are very much known to people and make small adjustments, you’re creating something completely from scratch. Like, firstly, where are you getting this made? Is it us? Is it China? What was happening there?
 
Tim  21:35
So it has been manufactured in China, we have tried and looked in actually recently to making it in the US. And it’s not. So the base, which we call the court is fairly large, and it’s an injection molded plastic. And due to the size and nature of it, it’s not something that a lot of manufacturers can do. Actually, our our Chinese manufacturer also had a hard time finding somebody to source to do that. And so we are working with a Chinese firm to manufacture and produce the product.
 
Ben Donovan  22:09
Is it been a big investment in product development? I imagine there’s lots of design lots of tooling, as much as obviously you’re able or willing to disclose that. What’s that journey been? Like?
 
Tim  22:23
Yes, so this one was a bit more significant as far as upfront costs go. And, you know, like, when did the card game, it was literally just a box of cards. I mean, that’s there’s not a whole lot to it. So it’s a it was a fairly low risk thing for me to pursue on my own. And I think that’s that was probably one of the hurdles that Joe would have had, if he tried to do this, once he got into it, just realizing that from the upfront perspective, it was going to be quite pricey. So for one would just be the you know, obviously, this is the design and engineering that we had to do. That’s something that we outsource to like a really high level firm. They’re not cheap. But they do they do great work. And so they came up with the design that we ultimately went with. And then the manufacturer, there was a series of prototypes where we’re, you know, 3d printing, that’s that’s the beauty of doing what we do right now is that 3d printing really gives you the ability to kind of like, take what you have on paper and make it a reality fairly quickly and fairly low cost. And but then yeah, once we finalized everything and approved a 3d printed version of what we wanted to make, the cost for tooling is substantial, especially for something of this size. And so I think roughly 50 grand or something, you know, something like that for upfront costs. And so, you know, Scott and I, when we started just kind of noodling this idea ourselves, we would mention it to some of the folks in our network, who we just respected their opinion. And the good thing there was, unintentionally, we were fundraising, we didn’t realize that at the time, because after we would show this to whoever we were showing it to, we almost immediately got the follow up question of can I invest? So we decided, you know, what, this thing is going to be probably a little bit more pricey than we want to take on to bring it to market. It seems like it’s a pretty hot item. Let’s, let’s raise let’s raise some capital. So we did actually do a small fundraising round of about 500 $500 US and, you know, and then got off to creating our first did our first production run, which was just got here.
 
Ben Donovan  24:34
Yeah. And those were going to be my next questions, I suppose is what was it that made you confident enough? Because there’s a big sum of money to invest, whether that’s through raising finance or yourselves, what were the kinds of things the signals that you were looking for? Was it just excitement in the people you were talking to? Was there any real data driven research you did? Was it a feeling what do you go on as entrepreneurs that says, Yeah, we’re gonna raise $5,000 and and go for the So you know, what was it?
 
Scott  25:02
It’s a lot of all of those. I think the the way it happened was I met, I met Joe, I find myself in a spot where I’m constantly being pitched ideas. And when I was running those retail stores, I was kind of in this seed of always evaluating concepts for our shops, meeting with inventors as well, and developed a decent radar for kind of good bad product and what had opportunity to kind of what have legs. And so when I met Joe, I think my garden was up, Mike constantly being pitched ideas, but like, almost immediately, I was like, Okay, there’s something interesting here, Joe, I need to see it in person. So I drove up to his house, I mean, he happens to live close to me, drove up played in his backyard. And like, you know, again, like my guards always up, like I like immediately was feeling and I’m, like, easy to get into easy to figure out how to play fun to play across a broad range of ages. We just checked a bunch of boxes. So then I called Tim, and I’m like, Tim, listen, we might have something. I described it to Tim and Tim’s like, that sounds great. But I want to see it.
 
Scott  26:06
So Tim flew from Chicago to Utah. To evaluate it with me, we set it up in my backyard and played it together, kind of one on one just to like, initially, figure out the game and figured out if we liked it, and Tim liked it. When it passed kind of that hurdle. We were like, All right, let’s now take it out to the public and like, get some true feedback. And so we took it down to the local pickleball courts, I’ve got some five minutes from my house, they’re always crowded. And so we just knew we’d get a group of people that, like, have no previous experience with it. And I think one of the big red flags I have from inventors is when they tell me that their friends and family loved it. And that’s the justification for for me loving it. And I’m always like, Well, yeah, I mean, naturally, like your friends and family love it. Have you played it with anyone outside of that group. And when they hadn’t, I was really concerned. And so, you know, I felt the same way. I was like, we’ve got to get this outside of our realm and see, so we took it down there, set it up. And just like immediately, we’re getting really interesting reactions, people were stopping mid game, coming over to the fence to ask about it. They were coming out and asking if they could play. And we weren’t presenting this game as if it was ours. It wasn’t. We said to them, Listen, we don’t know if this is any good. And inventor lent this to us to try out. We’re trying to decide if we like it. And I think that put everyone else’s guard down. Now they were like, alright, well, I’m not hurting your feelings. If I tell you the truth here. That’s actually something I would recommend to anyone trying to evaluate an idea presented as if it’s not your own, even if it is yours. Always say, somebody sent me this thing helped me figure it out. This is any good. So that’s what we did. And we were getting genuine feedbacks. Most of it positive, some of it constructive. It was like, Listen, this thing is huge and heavy. I couldn’t fit this into my car. I wouldn’t buy this. If I couldn’t fit into my car. Well notice if like we knew right out of the gate, like this thing needed to be compact enough that it could easily be folded into it and put into a car and easy to carry around. So like great feedback, but on the whole, very, very positive. Like we had one guy grinning the entire time he was playing, finished, asked if you could invest and then asked if he could buy that sample, then left, and we’re like, where did he go? He comes back 15 minutes later with his teenage son. And he’s like, I had to show it to Dylan. And so then Dylan plays it with us. And we’re like, watching dad and teenage son play together. And you could just tell this is something a dad has been searching for. He’s like, alright, a game. I can play with him that he’s having fun. I’m having fun. And I can hold my own.
 
Scott  28:49
And to us like even just that little focus group told us who we think is our core audience. Our core audience is family, and its parents looking to play with their teenage kids. And you know, this is like goes back to the origin story of this game, or Joe couldn’t keep up with his teenage sons playing Spikeball? Well, our game is much easier to play. So that was like, just in that little focus group, we gained a ton of insights that led us to say, We think there’s something here, this is worth us making a bet on. But even then you are taking big risks. Most products fail. And so you know, the jury’s still out on whether it will succeed. But we feel very optimistic based off of kind of the experience we’ve had over the last year in this early month worth of read.
 
Ben Donovan  29:35
Yeah, you’ve got me excited, that’s for sure.
 
Tim  29:37
So there was one other thing to just I’ll add to that in terms of like more data driven research we looked into because we had never done a backyard game before. We have plenty of experience with called typical toys and games. But we looked into like what does the market for toys and games sorry, outdoor games look like? And it’s quite large. It’s one of the largest that we just kind of didn’t realize that, but it’s also the fastest growing, I think maybe has something to do with COVID. And just everyone desperate to be outside. And so that was another just kind of checkpoint for us to be like, okay, like, this is a big market that we’re gonna go after. And it’s a big market that’s growing.
 
Ben Donovan  30:19
Yeah, that’s awesome. So you’ve got the idea locked in. Then when it comes to the funding, you mentioned about people wanting to invest a round of funding for a complete beginner that’s launching something innovative like this, how do you even go about this, you know, a friend offers you 50 grand to invest? You just take his cash and just promise, promise him some money in the future? How does it actually work?
 
Tim  30:43
So it’s always interesting doing the initial fundraise, because there are no metrics to go off of, right? It’s different. When you’ve been in business for a number of years, you have sales data, there’s just more of a system in place for once you’re a mature company. However, the early stage stuff, the pre launch stuff, it’s more of an art than a science. And so really, it’s about what can you need somebody to pay for something that doesn’t quite exist? And we saw, we recognize that there was a very strong interest in this game. And we said, we think reasonable, but fair, but aggressive terms. And we did kind of a big pitch call with everyone saying, Hey, we’re gonna raise, you know, I’ll just kind of share Scott or met somebody we’re gonna public. Sure. Yeah. So we raised $500,000 on a on a $4 million valuation. And so like, how is it worth $4 million? When we haven’t, you know, we didn’t have anything at that time. I think part of it is just like we have a, so there’s some things we had going for ourselves, we have a history and track record of success in this particular space. Obviously, everyone sees and what’s happening with the pickleball, blowing up and wanting some exposure to that. So there was a lot for the same reasons that the buyers and retailers are excited about this game, I think there was the same feeling and sentiment from potential investors. So we established evaluation said, This is what we’re raising and how much we’re raising. And are you interested, and we shared it to just a few of those initial people that we talked to that it said they wanted to? You know, they were interested, we went back to him. So here it is, let us know if you’re in. And literally everyone said yes. So that was it, I can’t say that they all go that easy. This particular instance, go pretty well,
 
Ben Donovan  32:46
Again, it’s a sign of a good idea, isn’t it that everybody’s in, everybody’s excited? You know, because people that have that kind of money to invest, they have gotten it by being smart, and having, you know, making good decisions. And so that’s a really good sign. And so then you’ve given up equity in the company to enable that.
 
Tim  33:07
Exactly, yeah. So we’ve given up a portion of the equity, relatively small, so you know, 500,000 at a $4 million valuation, I think something like 12%. So Scott, and I still own roughly 44% of it, which was fine, you know, for us to each give up, five or 6%, to not be out, five to 50 grand each, basically, you know, if that’s what it’s gonna take to get it off the ground, we felt like That was a fair trade.
 
Ben Donovan  33:35
Yeah. And have you started to model your projections in terms of sales? And, you know, if you’re gonna have to take on further funding in the future, you know, the next couple of years, what do you think it looks like?
 
Tim  33:48
We hope not. I think the goal here is that sales will provide cash flow of the business will provide enough to do what we need to grow this company. Now, if for some reason, we need to be in the UK tomorrow. We need to be in Australia tomorrow. Those things happen. If your listeners, you know, just as here’s a huge demand from Ben Donovan listeners, where we need to go do however many production runs and come up with that kind of capital. Like, there’s a scenario there, I guess. But if we play it right, and we manage our cash properly, I will share that like Scott and I don’t take salaries. So we are essentially working for free right now. Just to kind of like stay as lean as possible. So because of that, you know, we’ve just maintained you know, just being as lean as possible right now, we’re just trying to get this off the ground
 
Ben Donovan  34:45
And your mindset going into it, is it that you this is a passion project you want to run forever, or you’re building it for a few years to then sell do you go in with either of those mindsets, or is it just see what happens?
 
Tim  35:01
I think that it’s Yeah. Do you think this one’s got
 
Scott  35:07
You got it, Tim. Sorry.
 
Tim  35:10
Okay. Yeah. So we are of the opinion that we’ll say for one, we’ve set this up, almost in the sense of like bootstrapping. So like we Yes, we did raise capital, but we gave a very little, we think we are doing in a way that we don’t have to continue raising capital. So that’s what you know, coming from a software background. I mean, once you take capital, typically, it’s like a drug, and you just, you need more of it, because you just have to grow, grow, grow. And so while we’ve taken initial capital, we hope that that’s not going to have to continue to be the case that we need to further raise capital to grow. And so with that, we there’s a scenario here, where we can continue to operate this business, cashflow, profitably issued dividends to investors, and just be on our merry way.
 
Tim  36:01
The reality is, I’d say, with Scott and I’s history is that, you know, we love to start things and get them going. We don’t, part of why we do, what we do is that we don’t love big, bureaucratic companies and organizations and managing a ton of people. And, you know, that kind of takes the fun out of it for us. So I would say, while the business could be set up to run for a long time, the reality is that Scott and I, just with our own wishes, we would likely look to sell it, you know, once we established some level of success,
 
Ben Donovan  36:36
you want the freedom to be out playing pickleball, two hours in the morning, right. That’s good. That’s awesome. One last topic, then real briefly, because, you know, your time is precious. But from a marketing standpoint, you know, wholesale would be like a whole nother conversation in itself. But just in terms of your direct consumer. Getting out there, obviously, appearing on podcasts is one angle. But what are what’s the kind of the collective, you know, project looking like for marketing this on a DC level?
 
Scott  37:10
Yeah, we’ve been lucky to have a couple of pioneers paved the way a little bit in front of us. So I’d say Spikeball, who I keep bringing up big success story. They’ve shown a lot of people how this can be done. Another one that’s been a big success in the US over the last three years is called cross net. And we’ve gotten those connections with them, they’ve been very open and willing to share what’s worked for them. So we’re trying to follow in many ways, the pattern they’ve laid out, one of the biggest things is that games inherently have this call it like a viral coefficient. So you know, if you play a game, you own it, and you’re playing with three of your buddies, and they have a good good experience, more than likely, those buddies will want to buy it as well. And that’s just kind of how game play kind of general board game world works is that if you have something that that is good and fun to play, well, generally it can start to spread organically.
 
Scott  38:09
The nice thing about an outdoor game is you’re going in doing it out in public, generally. And so you get passers by seeing you play, come on, ask you about it. That’s really what happened with Spikeball. It’s what happened with crossnet as they kind of got enough out into the market. It was like call it a critical mass that they reached a tipping point with their games were just enough, got out there that enough people were kind of evangelizing for them, that it started to spread without them spinning buckets of money.
 
Scott  38:40
So we’ve got an ad agency helping us we are putting ads out on social media. But we are also working on a more organic site. It’s not free. You know, we have to send free samples out to a bunch of people, but we’re trying to kind of pinpoint the right people to get it out in the hands of my one fun example here is I went to like a local festival in my community. And at this point, we didn’t even have sellable goods. This was pre launch, I just had my sample, but I was like, I’m just gonna get it out there and play and let people see it. If people asked me about it, I’ll have a business card with our with our website on it. And so through that, like we sold a handful, but one guy got super excited about it. And he has I think we can trace 15 sales to this one guy, just because he’s played it with a bunch of different friends. They have this video of him playing on a houseboat. And like that just has organically spread. And our hope is that that is emblematic of what we can do kind of nationwide and ultimately worldwide is you get into the right hands of people that are connectors, and they then start to spread the word. So we’re trying to we’re trying to do that both by sending out free samples and by incentivizing people to talk about it. So we do have a an affiliate program set up where you can immediately upon purchase of our product be signed up, given your own unique code. And if someone asks you about it, you can offer them 20 bucks off. And if they transact, you get 20 bucks commission back. And so we’re just trying to turn our consumers into our kind of our evangelizers, the ones that kind of go out and spread the word. And yeah, so I mean, again, we’re a month in, we don’t know if this is the right path. We’re doing a lot of testing and learning. But that’s one we think, will will work based off of what we’ve seen work with other brands.
 
Ben Donovan  40:34
Yeah, nice and final one, just because a lot of our listeners will be Amazon sellers. Do you have a particular Amazon strategy? Or is it just throwing it up there and waiting for that branded search? What are the thoughts there?
 
Tim  40:49
Right, Amazon is such a beast of its own, we’ve actually decided to outsource that to work with a digital agency that is handling our agency business, or our Amazon business. So Scott and I, it’s just the word the team. So it’s just the two of us. And there’s just a lot of hats that we have to wear. And Amazon’s gotten so big and so complex that we prefer just to work with experts in that space. And so yes, we do have a strategy, and we’re running ads and whatnot on there. But we’re not in the day to day weeds as far as managing that listing.
 
Ben Donovan  41:32
Good stuff. Well, I mean, I could ask you questions about this all day, because I think it’s fascinating, but we’re already already up over 40 minutes, and I know you’re gonna have lots of paddle smash sets to us to sell today. So is there anything though, to finish, though that I’ve haven’t asked you maybe that I should have that you think is worth everyone’s hearing?
 
Scott  41:51
Just where people can find it? I don’t know. Yeah, maybe it’s just paddlesmash.com. So easy to find us. Any of the US listeners, it’s free shipping. You know, and I think that’s the best thing to kind of get the word out, in the UK, we’ll get to you eventually. Keep asking. We’ll get there. So yeah, part of our long term plans. But we’re focusing on US now and kind of warm weather states and countries to start, but ultimately, we’ll get there.
 
Ben Donovan  42:24
Yeah, now I’ve got no doubt that it is going to blow up. You know, you’ve got the examples of Spikeball cross net, these well thought out, you know, games do get massive. And I think the timing just seems so good with this. And so yeah, I’m like, when’s the next round? Let me invest crying out loud. So I’m really excited to follow the journey. I assume you’re on like social media and stuff like that with Paddle Smash we can follow along there
 
Scott  42:51
We are. Yeah.
 
Ben Donovan  42:56
Yeah. Awesome. So good. Well, we will do that. We’ll leave all the links in the show notes in the description, so everyone can check it out. Buy a bunch of sets, spread around the paddles much love. Tim, Scott, thanks so much for being on the show. Really appreciate you taking time out today.
 
Scott  43:11
Thanks for having us. And, Ben, if your listeners want a promo code, I’m gonna give them a promo code right now. So Ben 30. We’ll get him 30 bucks off. So see if Ben can convert? Yeah. So yeah. Ben 30. Right here,
 
Ben Donovan  43:30
Guys, I can become an influencer for a paddle smash brand that I would really like that. So please buy this guy’s.
 
Scott  43:38
Yeah, we’ll figure out a way to get one to you. Just so you can start start spreading the word there. Yeah, if anyone’s listening BEN30, no spaces, get your 30 bucks off.
 
Ben Donovan  43:52
Come on. Sounds good. Thank you so much for that. I’m sure. There’ll be some people that take advantage of that. Amazing. Thanks, guys, for joining us on this episode today of the Brand Builders Show. Do check out all of the show notes, like I mentioned before, in the description in the show notes on the podcast apps, and we’ll see you in the next episode real soon.

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