We all know that when it comes to ping pong, pretty much everyone in the tech community is a player. The game is practically synonymous with tech. Ok, so are kegs, but what self-respecting company/coworking space doesn’t have a ping pong table? Or will at least head over to their favorite local, where they’re almost certain to find one?
Now comes PaddleYou, the first service that lets you customize your ping pong paddle/table tennis racket using photos from your Instagram, Facebook or your computer. Oh, it’s also a specially-engineered paddle that just might help you improve your game.
And don’t let the name throw you. PaddleYou is more about your SM pics, not S&M. Cooper Fallek, PaddleYou founder and president of Table Tennis Nation, is here to tell us more about the company – and share some surprising facts about ping pong that we’re almost certain that you didn’t know (did you know that New York is the ping pong capital of the US?)…
Tell us about the product or service.
PaddleYou is the world’s first design-your-own ping pong paddle service. We’ve engineered game-improving ping pong paddles that you can customize using pictures and designs from your facebook, instagram, computer, smartphone, or tablet.
How is it different?
Ping pong is the most played sport in the world, but most people play with paddles that make it harder to play. We started by creating a paddle that makes the game more fun through longer rallies and more control. For the majority of players, this is the PaddleYou paddle is the best paddle for them to play with. On top of our patent pending, game improving paddle, we think that everyone’s paddle should look different and we want everyone to design his or her own. You can create your own paddle on PaddleYou.com in a matter of seconds.
Where did the inspiration for this business come from?
One of our founders was the legendary table tennis player Marty Reisman. He traveled the world playing ping pong and saw the incredible unifying power the sport had, but also recognized that changes in equipment were harming the sport. As Table Tennis Nation, we set out to bring the fun back to table tennis and started working on our game-improving paddles. At first we sold paddles (some with designs) and ran events around the world, but as the company evolved and our manufacturing matured, we launched PaddleYou so everyone could bring their own style to the sport.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
In the US approximately 20 million people play table tennis regularly (and even more around the world), but only about 8000 people go to table tennis tournaments and look for equipment. We’re trying to reach the millions of casual ping pong players who love the sport and enjoy playing in offices, bars, dorms, basements, and garages.
What is the business model?
We sell custom game improving paddles through PaddleYou.com for $34 each and we ship around the world—we’ve already sold paddles in 22 countries. We also handle larger corporate orders (that can be individually customized) and help groups plan ping pong events.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
We’re looking to top our 2013 Holiday season and unveil some of our new verticals.
If you could be put in touch with one investor in the New York community who would it be and why?
There are so many New York tech investors (like David Tisch and Ken Lerer) who play ping pong and we’d love to meet them all, but from what we hear, Kevin Ryan has some serious table tennis game. When we look for investors, we want people who love the sport that our business revolves around and who also have the backgrounds that can make PaddleYou a stronger business.
Why did you expand to New York?
We’ve been in New York City since Day 1. New York has become the center of ping pong in the United States, thanks to great clubs and incredible New York ping pong personalities like Marty Reisman. We’re proud to say that all our paddles are Made in New York: all our manufacturing and customization takes place in the state.
Where are the top spots to play ping pong in NYC?
There are some great ping pong bars like SPiN (who is a partner of ours) and tons of other smaller bars around the city that have tables. The outdoor tables at Bryant Park and Tompkins Square Park are also really fun, and perfect for outdoor play all summer.
What’s your favorite happy hour destination in NYC?
Ducks Eatery has a great happy hour (and delicious food), plus owner/chef Will Horowitz is a big ping pong player.