Meet Slinger – the perfect, portable tennis partner in a bag


Israel earned its Begin-Up Nation moniker in no small half as a result of spectacular variety of high-tech startups that originated within the Holy Land and launched large innovation to the whole world in fields spanning drugs, agriculture, navigation and lots of extra. The world of sports activities expertise is shortly proving to be the most recent stomping floor for Israeli corporations to deal with.Slinger is certainly one of greater than 100 sports-tech companies which have began out of Israel up to now 10 years, and The Jerusalem Put up just lately had the chance to talk with Juda Honickman, Slinger’s Chief Advertising and marketing Officer, who shed some gentle on the origins of the sports activities startup and the imaginative and prescient for the long run.In a nutshell, Slinger founder Joe Kalfa, an avid tennis participant, had a loopy concept that shortly grew to become a core mission for him: that everybody ought to be capable to personal a tennis-ball launcher. He liked the idea of tennis-ball launchers, and at all times used them when he was on the membership and so they had been obtainable. The issue was that they weren’t at all times obtainable, or straightforward to make use of, and even good for that matter.Kalfa knew that to make a tennis-ball launcher for everybody, apart from being easy and unbelievable, it must be each transportable and reasonably priced. So he developed a staff and started working.“All the best concepts present an answer to an issue,” Honickman advised the Put up. “The Slinger Bag is not any exception.“Slinger Bag is the reply to an age-old downside in tennis, enabling gamers to go to the courts, hit high quality balls with out the necessity of a companion, wherever, at any time when. Similar to the way in which that golfers head to the driving vary, this was the primary time ever that one thing comparable was obtainable to the common tennis participant.”The Slinger Bag bag can be a singular answer for many individuals to the worldwide lockdown and restrictions on sports activities exercise because of the coronavirus pandemic. Because the pandemic has begun, the corporate has seen an enormous spike in curiosity by way of its web site and social media platforms as Slinger offers an answer to the quarantine and social distancing downside, giving any participant of any ability stage the power to exit by themselves and play a sport that historically wants two folks. cnxps.cmd.push(perform () { cnxps({ playerId: ’36af7c51-0caf-4741-9824-2c941fc6c17b’ }).render(‘4c4d856e0e6f4e3d808bbc1715e132f6’); });Born out of an on-court expertise, Kalfa wrestled with numerous tennis golf equipment’ ball machines – battling via the laborious and tough activity of dragging them from clubhouse to the court docket, untangling the ability twine, discovering an extension lead after which looking for an influence outlet, earlier than loading it with balls after which lastly determining methods to program the machine. All of this taking on his helpful court docket time. As he was in the midst of making an attempt to arrange a ball machine, he seen a lady strolling to the clubhouse pulling a typical tennis trolley bag behind her.“This was the light-bulb second that gave delivery to Slinger Bag, the world’s most transportable tennis-ball launcher,” defined Honickman.The Slinger Bag is a modular tennis bag that includes a fully-functional tennis ball launcher that holds as much as 144 balls, in addition to providing gamers house to retailer their tools together with rackets, bottles and towels.With the assumption that everybody ought to be capable to personal a tennis-ball launcher, in early 2017 Kalfa channeled his ardour for the game and set about making a product that was each reasonably priced and superior in equal measure – one which tennis gamers may buy on-line throughout the globe.Understanding that there was an actual alternative to disrupt the tennis market, he shaped Slinger and onboarded a gifted staff he was positive may take the idea to a world viewers –  this included his brother, Nick Kalfa (COO), Honickman (CMO) and Arik Yuval (head of R&D).The staff shortly started working constructing a prototype and unveiled the primary iteration of its patented Slinger Bag in June 2017. The creation was highly-portable, cordless and managed by a remote-control – thus bringing a brand new era of ball launcher to life. What’s extra, the ball launcher doubled as a bag and telephone charger, enabling gamers to hold their rackets, balls and private belongings onto the court docket simply and conveniently.After a number of prototypes had been put via the wringer by a discerning group of Joe’s native gamers, the product launched to the broader tennis neighborhood by way of a Kickstarter marketing campaign in February 2018.The staff’s determination to launch via a crowd-funding marketing campaign was instantly validated. The Slinger Bag was an immediate hit – surpassing its goal of $25,000 in simply 45 minutes! Within the following 37 days, and after including an Indiegogo viewers, the corporate bought in extra of $1 million value of Slinger Luggage throughout each platforms.The unprecedented reception was eye-opening for the staff – they had been sitting on a product that had the ability to revolutionize the tennis market.It was at this level the corporate enlisted the assistance of tennis trade heavyweight, Mike Ballardie.Ballardie, a former Prince CEO and Wilson government – two of the preeminent names in tennis tools – was employed for his intensive market information and model management expertise within the international tennis trade. Having invested within the firm, Ballardie has been showcasing the corporate to his intensive worldwide contacts of tennis coaches, gamers and sellers, constructing a world distribution community and driving funding. He’s presently placing collectively a extremely skilled administration staff consisting of different tennis executives for the corporate.”Mike has a deep information of, and passionate dedication to, each the tennis trade and the tennis neighborhood,” mentioned Slinger founder Joe Kalfa. “He’s a confirmed enterprise chief who has efficiently introduced a number of high-performance improvements to marketplace for main international manufacturers. We’re excited that Mike has acknowledged the market potential of Slinger Bag and are wanting ahead to working along with Mike to construct Slinger Bag into a world tennis model over the approaching years.”In December 2019, Slinger reached a landmark within the firm’s journey by going public within the US by way of reverse acquisition – launching on the OTC Markets, an American monetary market offering value and liquidity data for nearly 10,000 over-the-counter securities. Slinger’s ticker image is OTC:SLBG.Sizzling off the heels of going public, Slinger introduced in January 2020 it had commenced cargo of the inaugural 5,000 models of its extremely anticipated product. The tennis aficionados who pre-ordered the Slinger Bag, together with those that supported the model’s profitable crowd-funding marketing campaign, have already begun to obtain the product, with the preliminary shipments going out in early 2020.The Slinger Bag is ready to revolutionize the tennis trade and capitalize on this chance. It has partnered with tennis legends equivalent to Nick Bollettieri – a pioneer of the game, having created the tennis academy coaching mannequin, the most important and most prestigious sports activities coaching academy on the earth, and having coached and nurtured the abilities of 10 former world No. 1 gamers throughout his 60 years within the trade, together with Andre Agassi, Boris Becker, Monica Seles and Serena Williams.The Bryan Brothers, Mike and Bob, two of essentially the most embellished doubles gamers within the historical past of the game, have additionally began endorsing the product this 12 months.“Probably the most rewarding second of this complete endeavor has been seeing the concept bounce into life,” mentioned Honickman. “Like all startup or product launch, it requires blood, sweat and tears – and it’s usually a time of excessive danger. So seeing the entire exhausting work come to fruition and now watching tennis gamers the world over use the Slinger Bag on court docket for follow and drill, it’s actually the second when all of it turns into worthwhile.”Like all new idea, success comes from managing all of the small particulars. It’s via getting the smallest of particulars right that the product turns into extra readily accepted by the neighborhood of customers it was focused to serve – the common tennis participant. This can be a product that has been designed and engineered by tennis gamers for tennis gamers.The preliminary problem was to establish potential vendor companions and clarify to them what it was that Slinger was making an attempt to attain.“That’s the place the worth of Mike Ballardie main this enterprise involves the forefront,” famous Honickman.By means of Ballardie’s huge expertise in sourcing tennis merchandise and his base of contacts across the globe, Slinger was capable of establish the all-important Vendor Administration and QC staff to behave as its day by day liaison with the distributors it had recognized and to supply new companions as crucial.“With these relationships in place, we had been capable of embark on the event of the product, assured that nothing would slip between the cracks,” mentioned Honickman. “After a complete of seven product iterations, 1000’s of hours of lab and on-court testing, in November 2019 we lastly reached the purpose the place all distributors had been producing constituent elements to the extent that we required, all QA and QC processes had been in place and the merchandise themselves had been signed off for manufacturing.”The response from each the worldwide tennis neighborhood and potential traders has been overwhelmingly constructive.“This modern idea has captured the creativeness of the tennis participant market with many gamers telling us that Slinger is a product that tennis has been crying out for for a few years,” mentioned Honickman. “It offers a chance for tennis classes to be tremendously elevated in each market and it’ll help different efforts to cease the drain of gamers away from the sport.”Many lapsed gamers cite their cause for stopping taking part in tennis as being as a result of they didn’t have an everyday companion to play with. Slinger eradicates this obstacle by merely being a 24/7 Tennis companion. There actually is not any cause that each common tennis participant on the planet wouldn’t be excited about having a Slinger as a part of his or her tennis tools.Potential traders have been actually inspired by the chance that the Slinger staff is working to capitalize on.The present international marketplace for conventional tennis ball machines is comparatively small worldwide and is predominantly targeted on the nation membership, professional store and institutional markets. Slinger is disrupting this conventional market by interesting on to the tennis gamers themselves, and in doing so has already bought 1 / 4 of this conventional international market whole in a crowd-funding marketing campaign.The Slinger Bag market alternative is even larger, as there’s an estimated international inhabitants of 1.2 billion folks both taking part in tennis or being common followers of tennis, and the worldwide tennis market is valued at over $10 billion. These numbers counsel that the sky’s the restrict for the Slinger Bag and, as such, it represents a gorgeous proposition for traders.“Slinger Bag was initially funded via a crowd-funding marketing campaign – each on Kickstarter and Indiegogo,” defined Honickman. This marketing campaign bought over $1 million value of Slinger Luggage and has enabled us to deliver the product to market. The response to our crowd-funding marketing campaign was unbelievable, one that basically surpassed all our expectations, however went a great distance in validating our proof-of-concept and offered us with a platform to alter the sport.”Since that point the corporate has acquired $4 million in extra investments, permitting it to construct a extremely skilled administration staff, on-board international strategic companions for logistics and business-enterprise techniques, on-board endorsees equivalent to Bollettieri and the Bryan brothers and spend money on the required stock to start out the worldwide enterprise.Slinger might have been the brainchild of Israelis, however is headquartered within the US, with subsidiary corporations in Israel, UK and Canada. It is vitally a lot a world operation. The administration staff splits its time between Israel, US, UK and China. It’s now properly into the method of constructing a world community of extremely revered tennis distribution companions with presently 55 markets and companions concerned on this course of.Over the course of the following two or three years, Slinger can be targeted on dominating the worldwide marketplace for tennis-ball throwing gadgets, together with coming into the rising markets of Pickleball (USA), Comfortable tennis (Japan) and Padel Tennis (Spain and South America). The longer-term goal for Slinger is to change into acknowledged as a world tennis model and for the Slinger Bag to change into a staple piece of tennis tools alongside rackets, balls, and delicate bag merchandise.“As soon as we’re established as a reputable tennis firm, we are going to have a look at pure Slinger product extensions via each natural and license choices to cowl soft-goods, equipment and different product classes,” mentioned Honickman.In his function as CEO, Ballardie couldn’t be extra excited with the route Slinger is heading.“I’ve been concerned in tennis because the age of 4 as a participant, coach and enterprise chief,” mentioned Ballardie. “I constructed a profession from the underside up at Wilson within the Nineties that culminated in me main their EMEA Tennis enterprise. On this interval I performed an essential function in introducing a sequence of merchandise that grew to become international market leaders in tennis. After Wilson I joined VF Company and labored for his or her JanSport model. I established JanSport as a model and a enterprise in all Worldwide markets exterior of the US, together with very efficiently right here in Israel, the place JanSport stays wanted at this time. Within the early 2000s I moved again into tennis and joined the Prince firm. Over the following 9 years, I helped remodel the Prince model and enterprise into a world chief in tennis. I see the identical potential with Slinger.”Certainly, everybody on the Slinger staff sees the transformative potential of the product within the sports activities world.“The product is a game-changer, for game-changers,” exclaimed Ballardie. “It’s so simple as that. The Slinger Bag is a 24/7 taking part in companion that may allow tennis gamers, from grassroots to professional excursions, to hit extra high quality balls on court docket at any time when they need and with out the necessity for having to consistently discover taking part in companions. It should assist develop the sport of tennis and improve play events.“All the best merchandise present an answer to an issue – Slinger Bag is not any exception. Slinger Bag is the reply to an age-old downside in tennis, enabling gamers to hit high quality balls with out the necessity of a companion, wherever, at any time when.” 

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