Why I built a smartwatch for racket sport players


I’ve been playing tennis for 29 years. For 16 of them, I was a professional tennis player. When I retired last year, I didn’t expect to become an entrepreneur. Most tennis players become coaches when they retire. Either they tour around with other professionals or they attach themselves to a local club. But when I started talking to a friend about a problem that amateur tennis players have, we recognized an opportunity.

Pulse Play’s eventual co-founder — and my now good friend — Enon Landenberg approached me about something he saw in a badminton game. It was his first time seeing it played and he noticed that the players kept fighting over the score. As a pro player, this is something I never had to worry about, but I quickly noticed it all over the tennis courts too as soon as I retired.

We looked around and we found that there was no easy and reliable way to keep score. Yes, there are standalone apps that interrupt the game more than arguments over the score; and, for the few that own smartwatches, there are simple scorekeeping apps. But there was no great solution out there for all the tennis, badminton, table tennis, and squash players (padel tennis players — we haven’t forgotten about you).

Scorekeeping was the catalyst for developing Pulse Play, however the concept quickly evolved to include other great features that amateur and recreational players don’t have. The next stop after scoring matches was saving a match history. After that, generating match statistics. Finally, my tennis friends were always telling me how difficult it was for them to find players at their level, so we started tackling a social network that calculates players’ ranks.

Within a month, I discovered two things. First that even though we envisioned Pulse Play as a solution to a problem in racket sport scorekeeping, our proprietary ranking system had become in my eyes the focal point of the smartwatch. Second, I realized that by building a smartwatch I could bring a better match experience to players all over the world. It was then that I decided with Enon that we were going to press forward with Pulse Play.

And it’s been a marathon since, not unlike playing 25 tennis tournaments a year. In eight months, we’ve made incredible gains.

  • In April, we launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise awareness about Pulse Play, and enough money to put a large dent in our development costs
  • In May, we celebrated a community of early supporters that’s now topping 13,000 players
  • In June, design prototypes arrived that looked and felt great and our electronic prototypes were working smoothly
  • In July, we played a lot of table tennis to test our application and we’re about ready to launch it on Apple Watch and Android Wear next month
  • In August, we finalized our plans for manufacturing, certification testing, and regulatory approval and are set to ship the first batch of Pulse Plays in December, just in time for the holidays

Whether you play tennis every day, own the ping pong table at work, or are captain of your high school badminton team, Pulse Play is for you. Our goal is to become the biggest community of racket sport players on Earth and that means we hope you’ll be a part of Pulse Play. If you’re as excited about taking racket sports to the next level as we are, pre-order your Pulse Play or sign up for our newsletter on our website.

If you have any thoughts or questions, email me at andy.ram@pulse-play.com. I’m around,

Andy


Andy Ram is Pulse Play’s CEO. A professional tennis player for over 16 years, Andy has 19 career titles, 3 Grand Slam wins, and numerous Olympic and Davis Cup appearances behind him. He never had to keep score, calculate his match statistics, figure out his ranking, or find opponents at his level. Now he’s created Pulse Play so amateur and recreational players don’t have to either.

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