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Pickleball Should Not Be Ignored by Venture Capital

by Guest Author on

With tournaments and events drawing millions of participants from all around the world, entrepreneurs have seized the opportunity to capitalize on this emerging market by launching innovative businesses and expanding into new territories.

Furthermore, venture capitalists have also taken notice of this booming industry and are beginning to invest in it.

So what makes pickleball such an attractive business opportunity that investors shouldn’t ignore?

Profitability of Pickleball in the Travel Industry

Rachael James, professional pickleball player and CEO of Destination Pickleball, believes that resorts are the country clubs of pickleball.

Given the smaller size and gameplay specifics, pickleball courts are reportedly more profitable than tennis courts in terms of surface area.

Right now, over 60% of pickleball tournament players travel out of state for the thousand-plus annual tournaments and there is continuous construction of courts in US neighborhoods.

Also, there are 13 million flights per year from the US to Mexico, and the numbers have returned to pre-COVID levels. With this growth in mind, it's crucial to consider the potential for hotels, especially those serving American guests.

Eight pickleball courts can support a tournament of up to 400 people – a strong business case for hotels to either convert their existing tennis courts to pickleball or build new courts entirely.

Brands like Marriott in the US and Kempinski in Mexico have already taken the lead in providing pickleball facilities.

It's essential for hotel management not to compare pickleball too closely to tennis, as they differ in terms of vibe, players, and most importantly, the learning curve.

The Opportunity for Entrepreneurship

As someone with lessons and experience gained at UNC Kenan-Flagler, I can't help but be excited by the industry's growth. It's still in the early adopters' phase, and I believe it's the perfect time for entrepreneurs to invest their time and capital to spread awareness, create new business models, and generate value.

Using tools like SEMRush and Google Trends to analyze the industry gives us a better picture of just how promising pickleball's growth is.

SEMRush data shows that in the United States, the word "pickleball" has 22% more monthly searches than "tennis".

However, "tennis" has over 15 times more related search terms compared to "pickleball". Google Trends reveal that even though "pickleball" has more monthly searches than "tennis" in the US, its overall popularity is only around one-fourth that of tennis.

However, in specific cities like North Naples and Hilton Head Island, the interest in pickleball surpasses that of tennis.

Expanding on Economic Impact

The rapid growth of pickleball has significant economic implications for communities and industries that embrace the sport. As the sport continues to gain popularity, various sectors benefit from the increased demand for pickleball-related products and services, leading to job creation and business opportunities.

By investing in the development of pickleball, communities can revitalize their local economies and promote sustainable growth.

Some key areas where pickleball's growth has a substantial economic impact include:

Job Creation

The expansion of pickleball drives job creation across a range of sectors, including coaching, court construction, equipment manufacturing, and event management.

As more people become interested in the sport, there is a growing demand for qualified coaches, court builders, and equipment suppliers.

This leads to the creation of new jobs and encourages entrepreneurship within the industry.

Tourism Revenue

Pickleball tournaments and events draw participants and spectators from around the country, generating significant tourism revenue for host communities.

Local businesses, such as hotels, restaurants, and retail stores, benefit from the influx of visitors who spend money on accommodations, food, and other services.

By hosting pickleball events, communities can attract tourists and boost their local economies.

Real Estate Development

The popularity of pickleball has led to increased demand for residential communities and resorts that cater to the sport's enthusiasts.

Developers are now incorporating pickleball courts and facilities into their projects, attracting buyers who are interested in the sport.

This trend can contribute to the growth of the real estate market, particularly in areas where pickleball is especially popular.

Public-Private Partnerships

The growth of pickleball presents opportunities for public-private partnerships between municipalities and businesses.

Local governments can collaborate with private enterprises to develop and maintain pickleball facilities, share costs, and generate revenue.

These partnerships can help communities improve their recreational offerings and attract new residents and businesses.

Health and Wellness Industry

As more people discover the physical and mental health benefits of pickleball, the sport can contribute to the growth of the health and wellness industry.

Fitness centers and recreational facilities may incorporate pickleball into their programming, driving demand for specialized equipment, clothing, and training resources.

The sport's emphasis on social interaction and community also aligns with the wellness industry's focus on holistic well-being.

Technology and Innovation

The growth of pickleball creates opportunities for technological advancements and innovations within the industry.

Companies can develop new products, such as advanced paddles, footwear, and wearable devices, to cater to the sport's unique needs.

Additionally, digital platforms that facilitate player networking, tournament organization, and skill development can contribute to the sport's growth and create new business opportunities.

Media and Streaming

As pickleball gains popularity, there is an increasing demand for media coverage and broadcasting of tournaments and events.

This creates opportunities for media companies, broadcasters, and content creators to produce and distribute pickleball-related content, such as live streams, podcasts, and instructional videos.

By tapping into this growing market, media businesses can expand their audiences and generate additional revenue.

Collaboration Opportunities

As the sport of pickleball continues to expand, there are ample opportunities for collaboration between existing businesses, institutions, and organizations.

By fostering these collaborative relationships, all parties can contribute to the growth of the sport and benefit from its increasing popularity.

Some key areas for collaboration include:

Schools and Educational Institutions

Schools and educational institutions can partner with local pickleball clubs and organizations to introduce the sport to students.

By incorporating pickleball into physical education programs and after-school activities, schools can encourage physical activity and teach students valuable skills, such as teamwork, communication, and sportsmanship.

Related: Launching an NCAA Pickleball League Will Help Colleges Boost Revenue and Accessibility

This partnership can also help raise awareness of the sport among younger generations, contributing to its long-term growth.

Corporate Sponsorships

Businesses can sponsor pickleball events or partner with professional players and teams to raise awareness of their brands and support the sport's growth.

Sponsorships can provide financial resources for organizing tournaments, purchasing equipment, and funding player development programs.

In return, businesses can benefit from increased brand visibility and the opportunity to connect with a growing audience of pickleball enthusiasts.

Technology and Media Partnerships

Pickleball organizations can partner with technology companies and media outlets to develop digital tools and platforms that support the sport's growth.

These collaborations can lead to the creation of innovative products and services, such as online coaching platforms, player networking apps, and streaming services for live tournament broadcasts.

By leveraging technology and media partnerships, pickleball organizations can reach a wider audience and enhance the overall experience for players and fans.

Health and Fitness Collaborations

Pickleball clubs can collaborate with health and fitness centers to offer pickleball programming and court access to their members.

This partnership can help attract new customers to both the fitness center and the pickleball club, increasing revenue and membership for both organizations.

Additionally, the collaboration can contribute to promoting a healthy lifestyle and encouraging regular physical activity among community members.

Hospitality and Tourism Partnerships

Pickleball organizations can partner with hotels, resorts, and tourism boards to promote destination pickleball events and attract visitors to their communities.

By offering special packages and deals for pickleball players, hotels and resorts can increase occupancy rates and generate additional revenue.

Tourism boards can also benefit from increased visitor spending on local businesses, such as restaurants, shops, and attractions.

In summary, the growth of pickleball presents numerous collaboration opportunities for businesses, institutions, and organizations across various sectors.

By working together and leveraging each other's strengths, these partnerships can contribute to the sport's continued success and generate mutual benefits for all involved parties.

As pickleball continues to gain popularity worldwide, the potential for collaboration and innovation within the industry is vast and full of exciting possibilities.

Infrastructure Development

Supporting the growth of pickleball requires investment in core infrastructure to ensure that the sport remains accessible and appealing to a wide range of participants.

As the popularity of pickleball continues to rise, communities and stakeholders must prioritize the development of facilities and resources to accommodate the increasing demand.

This will involve several key areas of focus:

Court Construction

A crucial aspect of infrastructure development is the construction of pickleball courts in both urban and rural areas.

This includes converting existing tennis courts into pickleball courts or building new courts from scratch. Communities should also consider developing multi-use sports facilities that can accommodate various sports, including pickleball.

By providing ample playing spaces, communities can encourage greater participation in the sport and host larger tournaments and events.

Lighting and Court Maintenance

To maximize the usage of pickleball courts and accommodate players with varying schedules, it is essential to invest in proper lighting for outdoor courts.

This will allow players to enjoy the sport during evening hours and extend the availability of courts throughout the day.

Furthermore, regular court maintenance, such as resurfacing and repairing damaged equipment, is essential to ensure a safe and enjoyable playing environment.

Developing Indoor Facilities

As pickleball continues to grow, there will be an increasing demand for indoor facilities that can accommodate year-round play and protect players from inclement weather.

Investing in the construction of indoor pickleball courts or converting existing indoor spaces, such as gymnasiums or recreation centers, will provide players with more opportunities to enjoy the sport and improve their skills.

Training and Education Centers

To support the development of pickleball players and enthusiasts, communities should consider establishing training and education centers dedicated to the sport.

These centers could offer coaching and skill development programs, referee training, and workshops on various aspects of the game, such as strategy, fitness, and injury prevention.

By prioritizing infrastructure development, communities can create a solid foundation for the growth of pickleball and ensure that the sport remains accessible and appealing to a wide range of participants.

This investment in facilities and resources will not only contribute to the sport's continued success but also bring numerous social, economic, and health benefits to communities embracing the world of pickleball.

Business and Entrepreneurial Opportunities

The growing interest in pickleball across the globe presents ample opportunities for entrepreneurs to capitalize on the industry by launching innovative businesses and ventures.

Some of the key areas for entrepreneurial exploration include:

Virtual Pickleball Platform: Develop an immersive virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) platform where players from all over the world can compete against one another in real-time, practice their skills, and even participate in e-tournaments.

Smart Pickleball Equipment: Develop IoT-connected equipment, such as smart paddles and balls, to track and analyze player performance, including shot accuracy, speed, and spin.

Pickleball eSports League: Establish a competitive eSports league for pickleball, complete with live-streamed matches, professional commentators, sponsorships, and lucrative prize pools.

Pickleball Fitness Program: Create a unique fitness program combining elements of pickleball with HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workouts, strength training, and flexibility exercises, offering a comprehensive health and fitness experience for enthusiasts.

Pickleball Drone Refereeing: Introduce drones as referees for pickleball matches, providing accurate line calls, scorekeeping, and instant replays, significantly enhancing the gameplay experience and reducing human errors.

Pickleball Travel Experience: Launch a travel agency specializing in bespoke pickleball vacation packages that include tournament access, organized games at exotic locations, and pickleball coaching from renowned professionals.

In conclusion, the future of pickleball is bright, filled with promise and potential for all those who choose to invest their time, energy, and resources in this dynamic industry. As we continue to witness the sport's remarkable growth, it's essential to embrace the spirit of collaboration, innovation, and passion that has propelled pickleball to its current heights.

Together, let's forge ahead and shape the future of pickleball, nurturing its development and ensuring its continued success for generations to come. With our collective efforts and unwavering enthusiasm, there's no doubt that the world of pickleball will continue to thrive and inspire countless individuals on and off the court.

Andy Potanin is a veteran, tech-savvy entrepreneur, and pickleball fan. With a background in creating buzzworthy music festivals and events, he's now using his skills to make waves in the pickleball world. His tech expertise helps grow the sport, while his Marine Corps values strengthen the pickleball community. With Andy, pickleball isn't just a game, it's an experience.

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