Tim Swindle and Scott Brown are both 8 figure entrepreneurs with experience in launching, buying, growing and selling outdoor and board games-focused companies.
And they are in the very earliest stages of launching an entirely new outdoor game: PaddleSmash.
PaddleSmash is a new outdoor game that combines the best elements of Pickleball and Roundnet into a fun and easy-to-learn game.
Tim and Scott share their progress in creating the concept, designing prototypes, and their progress and strategy in the earliest stages of building a brand new company, and sport!
This is a fascinating conversation with experienced entrepreneurs launching an ambitious and exciting new product!
Here is a recap of the conversation:
Question: How did you get the idea for PaddleSmash?
Scott: Quick overview, I sold my business off to a big Canadian company called spin. Tim sold his card game company off to a private backed toy game company. And we kind of were trying to decide what to do next. And we were kind of on the lookout for a concept.
In my role at this retailer Marbles, I was in the seat where I was constantly evaluating products for our stores.
And so over the course of 10 years, I developed a decent filter for what was good and what was bad. And what had viability in the marketplace.
Most of the time, 99% of the time, the ideas are bad, but every once in a while, there’s this gem.
But we are introduced to this inventor, Joe. And he pitched me the idea of pickle ball meets Spikeball and he tells me this story:
Joe’s the dad of seven kids, six of which are boys. They play Spikeboall, and Joe can no longer keep up….he has a bad back, can’t dive around.
But he’s a structural engineer, and wanted to play with his kids still. He saw Pickleball, saw how popular that was – the courts are always packed.
Over the course of two years, Joe builds out prototypes, refines it and the concept, until finally it becomes the game that I see: A plastic base with a net system coming up the sides.
PaddleSmash is born!
You play with a pickleball paddle, and much like Spikeball, you’re doing this sort of bump-set-spike with your teammate.
This hit my radar as something with a lot of potential, I needed a second opinion, so that’s when I called Tim to get his perspective.
We hired engineering firms and worked with factories overseas to figure out how to make this a portable, user-friendly product.
How to make sure that the bounce was just right, the net height was right, and all of that.
It is a long process. Even with us, we’ve, I’ve made 150 products. It still takes a long time to get things ready for market.
And now we have a live product ready to go out to the market!
How Are you thinking about distribution for PaddleSmash?
There are a few great models to look at:
Spikeball’s had great success. The biggest key is to get the product out into the world as quickly as possible.
Get it into the hands of people playing it and show videos of how it is played.
Influencer marketing is big.
And everyone knows this.
But we’re not looking for an influencer with 5 or 10 million followers. We don’t have the budget for that.
And so what we’re really feeling here is the better approach is to look for influencers with smaller followers that are willing to.
We basically exchange our product for posts – we get the content that they create and we get to use that content in our posts and in our ads.
There’s an inherent virality to this product. You see it played, you want to know about it.
So our goal here is to get it in front of as many eyeballs as possible, as cheaply as possible, because it is visually so interesting to watch.
We’ve got a thousand units on the way to us. It’s not very many really. And our goal with this first thousand units is just to kind of test learn and get it into as many hands as possible so that the snowball can start.
We have 50 to a hundred that we’re willing to allocate to seed the product to various influencers and. Influencers, early adopters, people who can spread the word…
Social media is another channel that will be big for us.
We recently launched on, you know, Instagram and YouTube and doing some TikTok stuff as well. And you know, again, trying to think through how we can be scrappy to get distribution.
What’s been the biggest challenge so far?
The biggest challenge has been lead generation. We have a great product, an attractive website, but it’s about awareness. How do we get people to learn about it in the first place?
Getting customers in the door in the first place, on a tight budget, is a challenge.
Some influencer agencies offer their services for $25k, but we don’t have the budget for that. A few thousand dollars is “budget” for us.
We have guesses of who our target user is, if we look at Spikeball and Pickleball.
These are two communities that are tailwinds for us.
This autumn is not a great time to launch an outdoor activity.
So we see it as a small test – we are testing small, get some data that tells us what community this resonates with.
So we’re running ads to just warm weather states and a few specific groups.
After that, next spring, we will run a big launch and spend some real dollars to promote and let the world know about the product.
What are you doing now during the time you are launching?
We are in full on marketing mode right now.
We’re having conversations with big retailers, and doing a little road show, flying around the country and meeting with retailers and publications and media outlets.
So the early interest has been significant.
We’re pre-launch now, and we’re already having some pretty high level conversations and advanced conversations with some of the biggest players that we would want to be working with.
And so, you know, it’s just encouraging early on to get those little wins, even if it’s just a meeting, you know? And so we’ll take it but you know, that, that, so, yeah, there’s a, there’s a lot coming down the pipe right now that you’ll be hearing about soon!