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The company helps all the different parts of the tennis ecosystem, from players to pros to brands
When I was growing up, the sport everyone played was basketball, mostly because all you needed to play was a ball and a hoop. You might have a friend, or you might be by yourself, but either way you could still have a good time. If you wanted to play other sports, like baseball, for example, it required a lot more equipment, and a lot more people.
The same would go for a sport like tennis, which requires at least one other person, and access to a court. Players might encounter problems like scheduling, venue, similar leveled players, and pricing, if they want to play.
That is what Trisha Goyal found when she moved to a new city and it's why she decided to found Break the Love, a platform designed to erase those barriers that people encounter when they want to play tennis by doing all the planning and booking for tennis players. On Thursday, the company announced a $2.5 million seed funding round led by Lake Nona Fund backed by leAD Sports & Health Tech Partners & the Tavistock Group.
"Maybe it's that they have some friends who are of similar level, but their schedule doesn't work with yours or you have access to courts but no one to play with or you are priced out of a traditional brick an mortar tennis club that has an exorbitant entry fee so you just go back to running or cycling instead of playing tennis," she told me.
"Our solution to break down these barriers is to provide a one stop shop online for players to discover courts, players, and instruction through a combination of content for discovery and a social network to connect with players to actually get out and play across public & private courts without having to pay any exorbitant membership fee in a flexible way."
Launched in 2019, Break the Love connects all the different parts of the tennis ecosystem together into a single app, including players, professional athletes, courts, and brands.
Players, for example, come to Break the Love to learn from its content, find a pro, find other players, or find locations for their own groups of friends. They can purchase a Pass, which will give them access to four 90-minute classes or tourneys over a three-month period. Players can also join a Club, which are recurring, having at least one class or competition per month.
Break the Love offers multiple different types of classes, which generally have six to eight people, along with one of Break the Love's Break Athletes; class formats can include Liveball, which is a fast-paced doubles game with no serves or returns for 90 minutes, and Drill & HIIT, a 90 minute cardio-based class.
"We believe in championing athletes, so the way that we do that is by empowering our players to get out and play using our tools or organize their own groups through our tools via our captains program," Goyal explained.
"We like to say that we are creating a club by players for players. However, what happens in the process is that when people organize and play through our platform we are able to help further monetize or utilize underutilized courts which helps preserve the very infrastructure that keeps the sport growing and we are able to provide more accessible ways to play through brands sponsoring experiences creating a more accessible experience for players."
In addition to players, the company also works captains and professionals, as well as courts and brands, including Wilson, the United States Tennis Association, Foot Locker, and Tory Sport.
The courts use Break the Love because they need help monetizing their courts and/or better utilizing their courts across public parks, schools, universities, clubs, and residences, while the brands come to the company to activate their product, or gain brand awareness, with a targeted group of players. Because Break the Love only caters to tennis players, brands can build deeper engagement than they could on a platform like Facebook, Goyal explained.
The company's latest funding round brings it's total raised to $3 million. Other investors included Antler Ventures, Red Giraffe Advisors, and Caddie Ventures; Naomi Osaka's coach, Wim Fissette; former Wimbledon doubles champion, Vania King; as well as Hannah Bronfman, Sanne Vloet, Inez and Vinoodh Matadin, and Brian O'Kelley.
The company plans to use its new funding to grow its 12 person team, and expand its geographical footprint, primarily in urban centers to start; the company is currently available in New York City, Long Island, the Hamptons, upstate New York, Palm Beach, Miami, Los Angeles, San Diego, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC.
It also plans to build out its social networking features, which Goyal told me is important for Break the Love because, "Tennis (and broadly sport) offers people a sense of belonging," and that while users might come initially for information or convenience, "we realized that one of the top reasons why they stay with us on our platform is because of our community."
Sports, she explained, have historically been one of the top things that connects human beings.
"Our ultimate goal is to enable people no matter how good they are at a sport to feel empowered to play and find their sense of belonging in the process through our platform."
(Image source: breakthelove.com)
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