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PayPal: The Picklr offers a chance to play the fastest growing sport in the US

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On a typical day at The Picklr, the sound of paddles hitting balls and feet hitting the track mingles with laughter and friendly thrusts back and forth. The athletes are anything but homogeneous – a mix of ages, genders and players from different backgrounds.

But they all have one thing in common: an interest in a decades-old sport that has become popular at lightning speed in the U.S In recent years. This is pickle.


As pickleball’s popularity has grown, so has The Picklr in Northern Utah

The sport is played on a smaller court and with a lower net than tennis. The sport combines elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis, but offers a distinct style and kind of fun that people of all generations become addicted to.

‘Think of it like tennis on a table tennis table’, says Jorge Barragan, co-founder of The picklr, an indoor pickleball facility in Uintah, Utah that opened in early 2021.

One reason: the smaller field can make it easier on the body and easier to interact with fellow players. It’s also not expensive to try. “All you need is a paddle, a ball, and a park,” Jorge said—or in the case of The Picklr, an indoor facility. “The short description of who plays pickleball: it’s everyone,” Jorge said. “The game is very inclusive.”


Community on and off the track


Jorge Barragan co-founded The Picklr . in early 2021

Like many new players, Jorge picked up pickleball on a whim. While he was working in the tech industry, his colleague suggested we play pickleball over lunch to de-stress. “Honestly, after a few times I was hooked,” Jorge said. He soon started playing with his family and it became part of his weekly routine.

He saw a business opportunity: In an area that is too cold to play outside for much of the year, an indoor pickleball facility would certainly gain popularity. “I saw a need for something that was available all year round, not just for accessibility, but also for the opportunity to help the community come together,” says Jorge, who has always wanted to be an entrepreneur.

In January 2021, Jorge teamed up with his close friend and co-founder Austin Wood to secure a large interior space. In April, they were ready to open, offering memberships and walk-in games at the facility, which houses seven indoor courts. Since then, they have expanded to host tournaments, competitions and training clinics for people of different ages and experience levels, including beginners. By the summer of 2021, The Picklr had over 900 members and Jorge’s vision of building a strong community had quickly become a reality.

The place is now home to a close-knit group of people who care not only about the game but also about each other. When a young girl – a club member and frequent player besides her family – was diagnosed with cancer, The Picklr players quickly organized a charity tournament and raised $30,000. “It was great to see how it’s not a community that just comes and plays pickleball, but they also care about each other,” Jorge said.


People of all backgrounds and skill levels take to the track at The Picklr to play the fastest growing sport in the US


Pay fast, play fast

While building the business was quick, it wasn’t easy. Jorge knew that others could easily become addicted like he did, but first he had to get them in.

Along with social media and working with local influencers to spread the word, Jorge immediately took advantage of setting up a Venmo Company Profile. My wife uses Venmo as her social media. She sees what our friends are paying for and what they are doing,” he said. So both knew that Venmo’s word of mouth would be a powerful tool to get their business discovered as well.


The Picklr uses Venmo for fast, contactless payments for time and equipment in court

They also knew it would help with credibility and easy transactions. “We knew it was a way to legitimize our business, but we also knew it would be an easy way for us to take payments, to get people in,” Jorge said. ‘We really let people come and play’ [pickleball] that night because they saw their friends playing in The Picklr as they scrolled through the Venmo friend feed,” Jorge explained. “It was great to see that a little bit of FOMO came about as a result.”

Most of The Picklr’s players now use Venmo to pay for drop-in sessions, Jorge said, adding that many customers also use it to pay for membership fees, equipment and clinics.

“Venmo plays such an instrumental role,” he said of getting people to the door and trying pickleball. “You want to be able to enter, pay and play.”


Keeping the (pickle) ball rolling

Building a community is only part of Jorge’s vision. He also wants to increase the popularity of the sport and help players develop into more competitive athletes.

“They can have fun here, but at the same time we also want people to develop in the sport,” Jorge said. Expanding The Picklr’s youth clinics and leagues will be an important part of how Jorge and his team invest in the future of pickleball. He can already see that some young people are leaving football or basketball behind to try pickleball.


Training clinics for young people is a one-way street
the Picklr hopes to increase the popularity of pickleball

Jorge also has some other big goals in mind. Most pickleball matches last about an hour – he wants to kick off a game that lasts 24 hours and lands on the Guinness World Records. He also has plans to open a second location of The Picklr with eight indoor courts and three outdoor courts. The club, slated to open in early 2022, is located in St. George, Utah, an area Jorge calls a second home — and where pickleball is hugely popular. Longer term, “The dream is to run this nationwide, to be able to franchise this company,” he said.

And just like skilfully hitting a ball in the game he loves so much, he feels like it’s well within reach. He doesn’t see the popularity of pickleball declining any time soon. “The ball rolls so far that it just keeps growing and is unstoppable.”

Disclaimer

PayPal Holdings Inc. this content published on September 09, 2021 and is solely responsible for the information contained therein. Distributed by Public, unedited and unaltered, on September 09, 2021 19:21:02 UTC.

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