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Huupe, a smart basketball hoop startup, raises its game with $11M
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Huupe, a smart basketball hoop startup, raises its game with $11M

2023-03-28

Basketball can be played just well-nigh anywhere and by anyone in the world, thanks to a confluence of factors that lower a lot of barriers: ubiquitous hoops set up in parks, schools, driveways and backyards. You can play with one or many, and the only other equipment needed is an inexpensive ball.

But for those who want to modernize their game or alimony up training to play at a higher level, the options — as they do for all sports — narrow lanugo considerably. A startup tabbed Huupe (pronounced “hoop”) is hoping to transpiration that with a new product built virtually the concept of a smart basketball hoop, slantingly a content network of training videos that users can watch while playing. It’s raised $11 million to build that game plan.

Co-leads on the round were Protagonist VC, Marvan Ventures (the firm from Milwaukee Bucks minority owner Keith Mardak), TRI Investments, and Kawn VC. Genesis Ventures and Reform Ventures (NBA player Thaddeus Young’s venture fund) moreover participated.

Huupe’s product and merchantry model combine a mix of hardware, software and media streaming. The physical component starts with a unfluctuating basketball hoop that picks up data well-nigh balls that are sunk through it, or hit it, or do not. It’s ruggedized and waterproof, and the startup says that it’s as robust as a regulation hoop. Behind that is the backboard, which is made from a video screen equipped with computer vision and covered by the same enforced glass used for backboards in professional courts.

The video screen displays videos of basketball coaches, trainers and players that users can watch as training sessions all by themselves or as part of a group. The computer vision and the content work in tandem to track and respond to how people are playing and what they need to work on to get better. The wits is a little reminiscent of Peloton and other unfluctuating exercise equipment. As with many of those products, Huupe’s video screens can moreover stream other kinds of video content, be it basketball games or whatever it is that you want to watch.

The full package starts at $4,995 and $6,495 depending on the size you order for the screen. You’ll moreover have to pay $30 per month for the app subscriptions for content on top of that. (It’s moreover offering a $1,000 unbelieve for the first 1,000 pre-orders.)

Huupe is unmistakably not subsidizing the forfeit of the hardware at those prices, but CEO Paul Anton told me that the idea is that over time, as production scales, overall prices will come down.

The idea for the product came from the uncontrived wits of the two co-founders. Anton and Lyth Saeed (COO) were diaper friends in Milwaukee who used to play basketball together, and when they got older and lived remoter untied — Anton studied IP law and moved to the Bay Area to work; Saeed was towers his first startup, a transport app tabbed QUp, in Dubai — they started talking well-nigh how they could play basketball remotely.

“How could we still play basketball together in two cities?” Anton asked. The pair tried using yack apps and other kinds of hacks at first. But with the startup bug fully in effect in the middle of the last decade, sooner they decided to leap into the unknown themselves and started Huupe to wordplay that question.

Huupe co-founders Paul Anton and Lyth Saeed

Huupe co-founders Paul Anton and Lyth Saeed. Image Credits: Huupe

A hardware startup, as the saying goes, is hard, perhaps plane increasingly so for founders who have never built something like this before. Huupe has unquestionably been virtually since 2015, and it was bootstrapped for years as the pair tinkered on the idea first as a side hustle and then as a primary focus, towers prototypes in and outside the proverbial startup garage. Huupe sooner raised its first outside money, a seed round, last year.

The story is a little grassroots like basketball itself, which is partly what seemed to vamp investors.

“We love the team; they are super scrappy and hard-working,” said George Bousis, the co-founder of Protagonist, which last year announced a $100 million crypto fund but invests in other kinds of tech, too. “They have a big vision of where they see the visitor going and, thus far, have a unconfined understanding of the market; they’ve built a unconfined product and have a ton of potential, given the early metrics. We really like the collaborative element of playing with friends in person or wideness the country and the sense/feeling of polity that can be ripened over time. It’s super fun, interactive, and unquestionably works (admittedly, I’m pretty bad at basketball but found myself wanting to get largest given the gamification/experience).”

While the initial marketing push is aimed at consumers, Bousis believes there is market potential vastitude that. “We think gyms/fitness centers, polity courts/centers, schools, and so on are a natural fit.”

The forfeit right now may be unnaturally low — the founders declined to talk well-nigh total very forfeit when I asked — but Bousis pointed out that the stereotype price of a premium basketball hoop typically starts at $2,500, and that is without the interactive and educational elements that Huupe has built in. Anton and Saeed tell me that some 4 million hoops are sold globally every year, and decades have passed with virtually no innovation on the vital structure of those hoops, so you can see where the beginnings of opportunity lie. (U.S. figures for overall basketball equipment sales have risen steadily for years, with a special uplift during the peak of COVID-19.)

Various startups have targeted hardware for variegated sports, but interestingly, a lot of the worriedness virtually basketball has been virtually gaming and gamification, with startups like Gym Class and Dapper Labs (which makes NBA Top Shot) transmissible the eye of users and investors.

That ways there are lots of directions, and not much in the way of competition or precedence, that Huupe might develop if it breaks through in the basketball equipment market. One thoroughfare that it does not want to pursue, however, are other traps or “peripherals” for basketball playing, like shoes, balls or anything else.

“We are not into wearables,” Saeed said, classifying anything like unfluctuating shoes as part of that category. “We view using that as unreceptive to unchaste if it becomes too easy to do better.” That said, if people are using Huupe as part of their home fitness regime, then there is a merit to the program integrating with other trackers to measure activity.

He widow that the visitor is moreover considering other sports that are not unlike basketball: lacrosse, soccer and hockey are on its list.

Updated with correct pricing!

Huupe, a ‘smart’ basketball hoop startup, raises its game with $11M by Ingrid Lunden originally published on TechCrunch

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