Isn’t it about time that table tennis got some serious upgrades? Thanks to David Lowe, leader of the ping pong revolution, players can now bring more of themselves to the table with paddles custom designed to match their own style.
David is the founder and CEO of Uberpong, which lets you use images from Instagram, Facebook, or even your personal photos and artwork to create “uber” designs for ping pong paddles that are a perfect fit for your game. With the new Uberpong app, you can design your custom paddles on the go.
In this exclusive interview with KillerStartups, David tells us more about Uberpong and how “Losing My Virginity” gave him the confidence to pursue his startup dreams.
What’s Uberpong about?
Uberpong creates designer and custom ping pong paddles. It teams up with international artists and graphic designers, puts their designs on paddles and gives them a % of every sale. We have already worked with Nike, MTV and Google and have created custom paddles for college kids, startups and events companies around the world.
What’s the greatest thing about Uberpong?
Uberpong was the first table tennis brand to offer custom ping pong paddles. We have professional table tennis players on our board of advisors, have an awesome website, a great community of artists and graphic designers and much higher quality paddles than the competition. We also direct world class social ping pong parties.
How’d you come up with the name Uberpong?
Uber means “above” in German. We see the natural progression of the game as: wiff waff (the original British version), table tennis, ping pong and now UBERPONG!
What was your first computer? How old were you when you first got on the world wide web?
Nintendo NES (OK, it’s a gaming console!). A Compaq was my first geeky computer. I was about 10 when I first experienced the web.
What time do you usually start work each day? How many hours a day do you usually work?
9am. I aim to do about 12 hours each day. I work intensely for hours then rest. Then I go again until around midnight.
When’s the last time you went on vacation and where did you go?
Uberpong ran a huge social ping pong event in San Francisco and we had a few days after it to enjoy the city (does that count as a vacation?!).
When do your best ideas come to you?
Always when I am in the bathroom, usually in the shower. My brain is not focusing on business so it is open to receive ideas. Occasionally, I’ll be networking after a few drinks and a lightning bolt will hit me. Ideas are spontaneous which is how I like it.
A lot of people have big ideas. What gave you the confidence to actually go after yours?
Having tried with two previous ideas that didn’t launch, I knew it would be third time lucky! It felt right, I was moving to a new country and the city (Austin) was perfect to launch a startup. After reading “Losing My Virginity” by Richard Branson, I knew I had to just do it!
Remember the early days of starting up? Describe the struggles you went through.
Sleepless nights, stress, anger, depression (not as glamourous as you think!) blended with elation, euphoria and successes. A startup could not be more of a rollercoaster ride.
How do you handle frustration?
I used to get angry, now I try to channel that negative energy and convert it into positive energy. Having taken the Dale Carnegie Course, I have matured and learned how to handle business relationships and people much better. Biggest professional frustration is when you see the goal close but it seems like forever before it arrives. Patience is key.
What’s your office environment like?
Love to work to music with no words (deep house, chilled, trip hop and electro especially). I watch movies to relax and am also getting into shows like Breaking Bad. I miss video games – it’s time for some Super Mario!
How do you picture Uberpong in 5 years?
I envisage Uberpong as being the biggest social table tennis brand in the world. We will produce paddles for celebrities, sports teams and big brands. We will run even bigger ping pong events and have entered into other territories and retailers.
Who or what inspires YOU?
Richard Branson. Playing ping pong with friends and clients. Reading magazines like Entrepreneur and Inc.
How’d you fund this venture? VC? Self-funding? Crowdfunded? Where’d you get the money, man?
Self-funded initially, then crowdfunded on Kickstarter. We raised over $10,000 in 30 days which was awesome and launched in November 2012.
Got any great bootstrapping tips?
Try and get everything for nothing. There are many entitled entrepreneurs out there who think that because their parents paid for their education, success will come easy. They never think to negotiate or some cheap because it might reflect badly on them and their family. I always negotiate (I once got a free cable in the Apple store and they NEVER give anything away for free). If you can keep your overheads down for the first year (in your business and personal life), you have a good chance of succeeding.
Any other advice for entrepreneurs?
Just do it. If it fails, make sure you haven’t killed your bank account. You need to put some of your own money in because you will always (or should!) look after that more than someone else’s money.
What would you do if you had a year off and $500,000 to spend (on something other than work)?
I would travel around the world (for the 2nd time) and hit the countries I missed the first time. I would spend the $500,000 on putting outdoor ping pong tables throughout the USA so people can come together through playing the game.
Number 1 country you’ve always wanted to visit but haven’t yet? (And why?)
Brazil – to see their passion for football (soccer), dance and music. Food is good as well.
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur? If not, what’ll make you feel successful?
Yes. I have been featured on the cover of magazines, interviewed by the top table tennis sites in the world and been featured on some of the most successful blogs. That said, this is just the beginning…
Top 5 websites you couldn’t live without and why?
Top 5 mobile apps you’re in love with and why?
- Instagram – visual coolness
- Hootsuite – great for tweeting on the move
- Jango – cool tunes for free
- Realtor – I like to follow the trends of the property market
- Soundhound – finds me the tunes I hear in bars
Three people (other than you) we should follow on Twitter and why?
Please share some specific numbers (funding, revenue, visitors) that highlight your growth.
$10,000 crowdfunding. 2012-2013 revenue is between $1 and $1million! Our community has grown fast and we now have just over 10,000 fans across all of our social media channels.