homepage logo

PaddleSmash, as seen on ‘Shark Tank,’ was invented by Pleasant View dad

By Nichole Whiteley - Daily Herald | Nov 5, 2023

Photo supplied, Christopher Willard/ABC

From left, Robert Herjavec, Tim Swindle, Scott Brown and Mark Cuban play PaddleSmash together during Swindle's and Brown's presentation of the game to the investors on "Shark Tank." The co-founders of PaddleSmash made a deal with Cuban and Herjavec on the show to receive $250,000 for 20% of their company, though they later decided against the offer.

Invented by a Utahn and discovered and purchased by co-founders Scott Brown of Alpine and Tim Swindle of Nashville, Tennessee, PaddleSmash is a mix between Spikeball and pickleball, two sports that have become extremely popular in the past few years.

The game was invented by Joe Bingham, a father of seven children who lives in Pleasant View. What started as an invention played with family and friends turned into an activity that is now sold by some of the largest sporting goods retailers including Dick’s Sporting Goods, Scheels and Academy Sports + Outdoors.

According to the PaddleSmash website, the game is best suited for four players, split into two teams, who work together on alternating turns bumping, setting and smashing a ball onto a small, trampoline-like court. The ball and rackets used by players are very similar to those used in pickleball.

Bingham wanted to create a game that he could play with his children because something like Spikeball was too difficult for him to keep up with younger competitors. Brown explained he wanted something he could play in his backyard with his kids. “That, I think, is the magic of PaddleSmash; it is much easier to play than Spikeball. Something about hitting with paddles is easier than hitting with your palm. You have a net that keeps the ball a little bit more contained.” Once people get through the first 10 minutes of learning and difficulty, they start to see how easy and enjoyable the game is, he said.

In addition, PaddleSmash is portable, meaning players do not have to travel to a pickleball court or wait for one to be available. Both Brown and Swindle are avid pickleball and Spikeball players, and they explained that combining the two sports creates a family game for all ages to play, although it may be difficult for very small children to understand.

Photo supplied, Christopher Willard/ABC

Tim Swindle and Scott Brown, co-founders of PaddleSmash, present the game on "Shark Tank." The episode was filmed in June and aired on Oct. 20, 2023.

“We’re trying to go after the family play — the family that wants to bring a little bit of pickleball into their backyard, with them to the beach, with them to the park where they can get a little pickleball with their family, where parents can play with their kids,” Brown said.

The invention of PaddleSmash

Swindle and Brown took over PaddleSmash from Bingham, who now receives a royalty of 1%. The new co-founders took the next year to create a version of Bingham’s prototype that was more “lightweight, portable, mass-producible and affordable,” Swindle said.

Brown makes toys and games for a living, so he often has people introduce him to friends or family of theirs who have created a game. That is how he was introduced to Bingham. He said as someone who constantly evaluates games and game concepts, “I can just tell when there’s something special.”

Brown lives in Alpine, and when he met Bingham and played PaddleSmash for the first time, he said, “I played it and I was like, I actually think there’s something real here. And I immediately called Tim; I was like, ‘You should fly out to Utah and try this with me.'”

So, Swindle flew to Utah from his home in Nashville to try out the game. They took it to a local pickleball court to test it out and see if people would enjoy the game. Brown said, “We got genuine feedback; it was overarchingly positive.” As this was a big risk for their career to pursue PaddleSmash, Brown said, “Tim being with me in person, trying the game, showing it to other people and getting some good feedback helped to validate the concept and made us both feel comfortable about pursuing it.”

As seen on ‘Shark Tank’

Photo supplied, Christopher Willard/ABC

Tim Swindle and Scott Brown, co-founders of PaddleSmash, present the game on "Shark Tank." The episode was filmed in June and aired on Oct. 20, 2023. The co-founders made a deal with Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec to receive $250,000 for 20% of their company.

PaddleSmash was launched in October 2022 and by the end of 2023 the business will have made close to $2 million in revenue. Last month, an episode of “Shark Tank” aired of Swindle and Brown presenting PaddleSmash to investors and making a deal. Last fall, they were at a trade show where they had a booth to advertise PaddleSmash, and that same week the game was featured on the “Today” show.

On the ride back to the airport, Brown and Swindle received an email from a producer of “Shark Tank” asking them to apply. They met the “sharks” and filmed in June, maing a deal with Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec to give up 20% of their company for $250,000.

They walked onto “Shark Tank” waving their paddles and jumping around, pretending to play the game. When someone goes on “Shark Tank,” it is not a guarantee their deal will be aired on television, but PaddleSmash made it into the episode. Brown said the exposure they gained from being on the show was the most valuable thing gained from the experience.

Swindle had a watch party with some friends and family when the episode aired Oct. 20 and Brown was with his family on vacation in South Carolina. Brown had set up his watch to vibrate every time they got a sale and said from the second their faces showed up on TV, his watch started buzzing and continued nonstop for three or four days.

On “Shark Tank,” Swindle and Brown received two offers, one from Cuban and Herjavec, which they accepted, and one from Kevin “Mr. Wonderful” O’Leary for 15% of their company for the same $250,000. They originally asked for $250,000 for 10% of their company.

Brown explained on the show and to the Daily Herald that they took the deal with Mark and Robert because they are both investors in pickleball and own a pickleball team, which would connect them to the pickleball community. However, after reading through other requirements in the contract during the time between making the deal and the episode airing, they said it was not the right fit for them, so they chose to not go through with the deal.

Looking back on their experience and their decisions, Swindle said he has “No regrets. We feel like we did make the right choice initially. They (Cuban and Herjavec) were the right partner for us. Had we gone through with it, I think we’d be very happy with that decision. It just didn’t work out.”

Although there were high-stress moments throughout the experience, the aftereffects of being on “Shark Tank” made them happy they participated. Swindle said, “It was very stressful at times, but totally worth it at the end of the day, and we just feel very fortunate and lucky that we were able to be a part of it. We have no regrets about how anything has worked out so far.”

While they chose to not continue with the deal they made on the show, Brown said PaddleSmash sales have continued strong since the episode aired and there has been consistent outreach from media outlets, retailers and people from other countries asking when PaddleSmash can be delivered there.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story erroneously reported the royalty percentage that PaddleSmash creator Joe Bingham receives from sales of the game.


Join thousands already receiving our daily newsletter.

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)