The team behind newly-launched Match Play Brands is out to change the performance sports landscape. The first two brands under the company’s umbrella – PCKL for pickleball gear and Piper for tour-quality golf balls – look to bring top products to sports enthusiasts of all levels.
Match Play Brands is getting off the ground with a $4 million investment, led by Atlanta-based BLH Venture Partners.
Both pickleball and golf witnessed a surge in popularity since COVID, something that caught Executive Chairman Ashish Mistry’s eye.
“2021 is when we saw pickleball become more than just a niche [activity], and 2022 is when we saw there really was a business opportunity,” he told Hypepotamus.
PCKL started product development at that time before officially launching in August of last year.
From e-sports to sports gear
There are certainly a number of emerging brands looking to capture the pickleball market in the US. But the team behind Match Play Brands has a unique business background that is poised to help them build in the competitive sports gear landscape.
Six members of the team, including Mistry and Michael Gottfried (President & CEO), were previously part of Atlanta-based KontrolFreek, an e-sports accessories brand acquired in December of 2020 by gaming giant SteelSeries.
“Getting the band back together,” as Mistry describes it, is about driving innovation in a new type of competitive sports landscape.
“Having seen firsthand the explosion of e-sports, a lot of the similar metrics and marketplace factors drew me to pickleball and the reemergence of golf,” said Mistry. “But we’ve also seen the overhyped nature of things like e-sports.”
Instead, he sees the team has always been focused on building a “good business that has all the factors that one would want…a growing market, great margin, and the ability to build something that’s sustainable.”
Even in its early days, Match Play Brands’ PCKL has seen success. It is ranked in the top 10 pickleball paddles and accessories available on Amazon. The first iteration of its paddle, the Pro Series, also scored well in a review on The Dink, a popular pickleball site.
The new $4 million investment will go towards reinvesting in product development, added Mistry.
Building In Atlanta
Beyond being home to the core team, Atlanta is the prime city to build something like Match Play Brands. On the golf merchandise side, the State of Georgia is also home to the PGA Tour Superstore headquarters and some of the top courses in America.
Atlanta is also known as the racquet sports capital of America, since it is home to the largest tennis organization and has a growing number of pickleball leagues and facilities. It is also a global hub for e-sports and the gaming industry, which helped KontrolFreek grow over its 13-year tenure as a business.
Match Play Brands looks to build on that momentum.
“[Pickleball] is a lot more mainstream. It may not be as global in nature right now as gaming was, but it’s got a lot of the right elements,” Mistry added. “We’re going to have to be patient and build it step by step. There’s no shortcuts to building a great business.”