Thomas Fields pitching in the Shark Tank (Source: Instagram / @grindbasketball_)
As far as founding stories go, GRIND Basketball fits in the “solve my own problem” camp.
Thomas Fields — the startup’s founder — was a high school basketball star. While recovering from ACL surgery, he tried to get practice shots up in the school gym. Fields arrived at 5am and the coach never showed to set up the shooting machine.
“I asked myself ‘why can’t I bring my own machine?’” Fields tells The Hustle in a conversation. “Not long after, I started down the road to create the most affordable and portable basketball machine.”
Basketball shooting machines are a staple for aspiring players
However, the top sellers in the space are more B2B-focussed businesses, with schools and professional sports organizations as key clients.
Practically, what this means is that the machines are too big and expensive for the average consumer:
Fields is a self-taught mechanical engineer and spent $25k to launch an early version of his shooting machine. Today, it’s priced at ~$1.7k and weighs only 100lbs. The smaller size fits in a rollable duffel bag, making it ideal for…a single person.
GRIND Basketball was officially launched last March
The first batch was 150 units and clients included the San Antonio Spurs and former NBA player Gilbert Arenas.
GRIND’s head of growth (and Trends member) Brian Blum is a former Spurs employee and a one-time NCAA basketball player.
“I think the difference with GRIND and a lot of other sports hardware products is our background,” says Blum. “We are lifelong hoopers and know how indispensable a shooting machine is, and want to make it accessible to everyone.”
Another attractive client base: coaches. Per GRIND, there are 70k registered youth basketball coaches in America.
To capitalize on the opportunity, GRIND is creating a practice app to accompany its hardware.
“We want to be the Peloton of basketball,” says Blum. “The app will offer subscription packages for data tracking, gamification and virtual training.”
GRIND just took a big step towards that goal…
…with an appearance on Shark Tank.
How did the pitch go?
Billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran agreed to a deal.
The terms are still to be finalized but Fields and Blum are busy filling the next batch of orders. In total, GRIND has sold nearly $1m worth of its portable shooting machine.
In many ways, the journey is only starting. And this time, GRIND won’t have to wait for anyone to set up the machine.
MLB all-star Alex Rodriguez (and Shark Tank guest) live-tweeting GRIND’s presentation on Shark Tank.