- Paul Anton and Lyth Saeed developed Huupe, an interactive smart basketball hoop.
- Anton and Saeed have raised $11 million and this year launched their product to consumers.
- Read some key slides from Huupe’s most recent pitch deck as the startup aims for a Series A round.
Huupe, like many other startups, was founded on an idea that the founders had in college.
Using Snapchat, childhood friends Paul Anton and Lyth Saeed continued to play basketball together while attending college in different states. They’d send videos of shots back and forth while holding the phone in one hand and the ball in the other.
Anton and Saeed reasoned that there had to be a better way and eventually came up with the concept for Huupe: a smart backboard that uses artificial intelligence to track players and their shots. It resembles a TV screen behind the hoop and allows players to form teams and compete in challenges remotely. In addition, users can watch NBA trainers’ training videos, participate in challenges and games via the Huupe app, and stream live TV and music.
According to the company, serious ballers can even compete against the stats of NBA players who use Huupe, such as Shaquille O’Neal, Dyson Daniels, and Thaddeus Young.
“It’s more than just the basketball hoop,” Saeed, the company’s COO, explained to Insider. “It’s a full, interactive training and entertainment system that you get right from your home or gym.”
Huupe began as a side project for the two before they formally founded the company in 2019. They raised $3 million in a pre-seed round in 2020, followed by $8 million in a seed round last fall, led by Protagonist VC, Marvan Ventures, and TRI Investments. Anton stated that the company intends to raise its Series A round soon.
The weather-resistant outdoor backboard has a single camera at the top that scans the entire half court, instantly registering the location of a shot and calculating the score. Huupe is also working on a camera that can be attached to any standard backboard.
“Other basketball hoop companies do shot tracking, but they have dozens of cameras,” Huupe CEO Anton explained. “We simply did what they do with a single camera.” It just took a long time, but we knew it would be worth it.”
The hoops cost $5,000 for the standard indoor-only model with just a smart TV and $10,000 for the pro model with camera and analytics. The price is comparable to standard portable basketball hoops found inside gyms, which range from $7,000 to $11,000 — but it’s much more expensive than a hoop for your backyard, which costs around $200.
Providing customers with hoops
Huupe began shipping backboards to users earlier this year and recently released the hoop-to-hoop feature, which allows players to compete against one another.
Rather than a rolling distribution, the company fills orders in seasonal “drops”: customers can pre-order from a limited number of hoops available each season. According to Anton, this process allows Huupe to be more efficient with capital and warehouse costs while also keeping customer delivery times reasonable. He also stated that Huupe has pre-sold 1000 units for 2023.
“Our tech will continue to get smarter with the more hoops that are out in the field,” he said. “So we’ll continue to improve.”
Huupe recently delivered a backboard to Miami’s Betr Studios, which is owned by Jake Paul. The two companies intend to collaborate on a wagering feature in the Huupe app next year that will allow users to bet against one another during shooting competitions. In addition, the founders stated that they are looking forward to their first international shooting competition once orders are filled overseas.
The next funding round will be focused on marketing, sales, and growth, according to Saeed. The company currently has over 80,000 Instagram followers and 28,000 TikTok followers.
The road to $11 million
Audie Atar, founder of Paradigm Sports Management, which represents fighters and soccer players such as Conor McGregor and former US Men’s National Team player Jozy Altidore, was an early supporter of the company. Anton stated that Atar immediately supported the technology and provided Huupe with its first $1 million check.
NBA player Young was also instrumental in the Huupe’s development. After trying out the product himself, he invested through his firm Reform Ventures and has assisted the duo in navigating their product strategy.
“I think we do a very good job of meeting our goals and our targets in order to get to the next stage,” said Saeed. “That’s really the big difference maker for us going into these pitches.”
Take a look at these five key slides from Huupe’s most recent pitch deck, which has been updated since their $8 million seed round:
Huupe has seen steady growth across multiple social media platforms
Saeed told Insider that the company hasn’t spent any money on marketing the product but has amassed a following on social media.
Huupe has approximately 80,000 Instagram followers and 25,000 TikTok followers with 12 million views.
Anton and Saeed lead a team of 25 full- and part-time staff
Huupe manufactures its products in Malaysia, and the duo is based in Southern California.
Anton and Saeed are the CEO and COO, and they have teams for hardware, software, and operations, as well as social media and content.
Huupe predicts growth in sports tech and the market for hoops
Huupe aims to capture a significant portion of the 4 million hoops sold annually, according to Anton, and expects to make $400 million in hardware sales alone by 2025.
According to this slide, the basketball hoop market will grow from $2.53 billion in 2022 to $3.47 billion by 2028.
Customers have had a voice throughout the process
Before the founders committed, Anton and Saeed bootstrapped the company and got 100 people to say they would buy the product at their asking price. Saeed also stated that customer feedback will guide future technology updates.
This slide features fan and player testimonials, including New Orleans Pelicans point guard Dyson Daniels.
Huupe is more than a TV on a backboard
Huupe stands out among sports tech startups due to its use of streaming and AI technology. The features highlighted in this slide include games, music and video streaming, stat tracking, and training videos.