Israeli start-up sports-tech company ‘Slinger’ is providing a practical solution to tennis players around the world; Slinger: Slinger Bag allows you to simply and easily control the launch speed and the launch frequency of the balls using two customizable dials.
Athletes are always on the hunt for something that will enhance their abilities and take them to the next level. Not only is Israel notorious for successful start-up companies, but in the last decade, they’ve had over 100 sport technology companies find their beginnings. ‘Slinger’ has been produced over the last three years and is grabbing the attention of many.
In an extremely informative interview with The Jerusalem Post, Slinger Chief Marketing Officer Juda Honickman revealed what led the founder, Joe Kalfa, to the decision to pursue this unique device. Growing up playing tennis and getting to experience a tennis ball launcher, he believes every tennis player should have this opportunity. What makes his device different is the fact that it’s accessible, affordable, and portable.
Both their vision and their mission are the first items you’ll see on their website, which read:
Vision: To stimulate increased participation across all ball sports by making these sports more accessible for players and fans, irrespective of age or ability.
Mission: To innovate, design and develop portable, affordable ball launchers, and other practice equipment solutions for all ball sports.
Their launcher will accommodate all tennis balls with the exception of Stage 3 Foam balls as of right now and takes no more than 4 hours to be fully charged. Additionally, the athlete can change the speed, feed rate, and launch angle, enabling the tennis player to practice in a variety of ways.
Honickman stated in his interview, “All the greatest ideas provide a solution to a problem. The Slinger Bag is no exception. Slinger Bag is the answer to an age-old problem in tennis, enabling players to go to the courts, hit quality balls without the need of a partner, wherever, whenever. Just like the way that golfers head to the driving range, this was the first time ever that something similar was available to the regular tennis player.”
He would also explain that the idea for a tennis bag with a built-in ball launcher was conceived while Slinger Founder Joe Kalfa was struggling to set up a stationary launcher at a club one day. The Slinger bag can hold over 140 tennis balls along with the launcher and the athlete’s other tennis accessories.
The idea came about in 2016, an initial prototype was completed in 2017, they launched their beyond successful Kickstarter campaign in 2018, and made it to the international market by 2019, which includes the United States. When they released the bag on Kickstarter, they reached their $25,000 goal in less than 45 minutes! They would go on to sell $1 million in bags over the next four months before transitioning from Kickstarter to Indiegogo.
After their beyond successful Kickstarter campaign, Joe Kalfa made an extremely strategic business/promotional move by connecting with former CEO of Prince, Mike Ballardie, who has been able to market Slinger on a whole new level. Ballardie would eventually become their Chief Executive Officer in 2019.
Honickman would continue his interview with The Jerusalem Post stating, “The most rewarding moment of this entire endeavor has been seeing the idea bounce into life. Like any startup or product launch, it requires blood, sweat and tears – and it’s often a time of high risk. So, seeing all of the hard work come to fruition and now watching tennis players across the world use the Slinger Bag on the court for practice and drill, it is certainly the moment when it all becomes worthwhile.”
He would also explain how a device like this has so many ramifications for the seasoned athlete who can now train on their own without having to depend on anyone else.
While the company is founded by Israelis, it is now based in the US with branches in Canada, the UK, and Israel. And while the project began in the mind of a tennis player who was thinking of all tennis players, Slinger intends to dominate the market by producing something for pickleball and other forms of tennis.
As of April 8, 2020, Slinger has now reached the second largest tennis market in the world after partnering with Globeride Inc.