One year ago today on September 22, 2020 we shipped out our first USAPA certified paddle that someone paid real money for!! In all honesty, I wouldn’t have remembered the date if Sophie hadn’t reminded me. You know how sometimes people tell parents to enjoy their kid’s early years because “they grow up so fast” and the parent rolls their eyes because it’s challenging, wonderful and all the things? That’s been us this past year.
So how has year one been? Even our numbers show it’s been a year of growth.
I was sixteen when I first played pickleball, and it didn’t take long for me to fall in love. The finesse of pickleball felt natural. Like it was meant to be. It didn’t hurt that I had been playing tennis since I could hold a racket.
In the summer of 2014 I won my first tournament. That led to a sponsor reaching out. It was a lightbulb moment for me. I realized that you could do pickleball for a living. No, I wasn’t trying to go pro. I wanted to be on the other side. The guy making the cool stuff. I began repairing paddles and working on prototypes in my parent’s garage. My friends and I even launched a website for what was then “Windmill Pickleball.” We sold 3 shirts and maybe one paddle?
Over the next four years I grew my hobby into an idea with tangible prototypes. Building your first prototype is hard. Building a second prototype is easier, and by the 5th prototype you’ve pretty much got it down. There’s no pressure. It’s fun. From 2016, when I built my first prototype to mid 2020 when I built the first Equinox Midweight, things were only getting easier. With every prototype I built and tested, I understood even better what players wanted, and I started to understand how to make a paddle do what players wanted it to do. By prototype 94, (the Equinox) my small engineering team and I were PRO’s at building pickleball paddles. We were making and testing five unique prototypes a week in our peak months, June and July 2020.
Then, we entered the business stage. That’s where we’ve been for the past year and MAN have we grown. When we ordered our first batch of 40 paddles, it wasn't too bad. My sister and I, who had made 94 paddles already, whipped them out in no time. But as our batch size increased to 120 and then 240 paddles, our small garage, new hires, and fragile supply chain created fire after fire…. I learned that building 500 paddles at scale, on time, within budget is very, very difficult. Nevertheless, we persevered and have made better paddles because of these challenges.
I thought making a dope prototype was great, but selling to customers is way way cooler. Since launching the Equinox in September of 2020, my passion for the sport has only grown, fueled by my team and the solutions we’re providing to customers. In our weekly meetings, we discuss our highlights from the week. Without fail Sophie is reading some text like, “Silver medal - 4.5 - THANK YOU!!!!” It’s incredible. I don’t think there’s anything better than knowing you’ve given people the tools they need to succeed. Ultimately, that’s why we’re in the pickleball game. To empower players with better equipment.
Revolin Ambassador David D Pickleball snagging a golden ticket to Nationals 2022.