Mark Cuban, other investors, put $250,000 in basketball tech company GRIND

The time period has change into common in professional basketball, however Thomas Fields actually did "trust the process" as he lured cash from traders, together with Mark Cuban, to increase his company.

Fields is the founding father of GRIND, a sports activities gear company, and satisfied the Dallas Mavericks proprietor to purchase into the enterprise. The 26-year-old Houston native obtained $250,000 from his look on "Shark Tank" for his moveable taking pictures machine.

In an interview with CNBC on Wednesday, days after his May 7 look on "Shark Tank," Fields recalled the method of launching GRIND in Mach 2020, days earlier than sports activities shut down because of Covid-19.

"It was literally two weeks before the pandemic hit," Fields mentioned. "After that, we were operating in a Covid world, so we don't even know what that non-Covid world looks like."

Pitching the sharks

On the enterprise entrance, Fields mentioned GRIND has accomplished properly whereas working through the pandemic. The basketball machine is ready up for a single consumer and robotically returns the ball to the participant, permitting for 1,000 photographs an hour.

Fields mentioned the company generated roughly $217,000 in gross sales through the first 5 months, as lockdowns had been in place and enormous gatherings banned. The product at present sells for $1,595, in response to its web site. On Amazon, related taking pictures machines are listed for over $5,000.

And Fields notes GRIND folds right into a duffle bag inside 90 seconds, weighs roughly 100 kilos, and referred to as the product "affordable and accessible to any athlete that would want it."

Asked about present gross sales, Fields declined to disclose figures, citing privateness considerations for his new companions. "Shark Tank" invited Fields to the present after six rounds of interviews, with the ultimate pitch coming final September in Las Vegas.

Mark Cuban on ABC's "Shark Tank"Jessica Brooks

His fiancée utilized to the present earlier than the company launched. Fields mentioned he watched beforehand recorded episodes, which airs on CNBC, and took notes. And whereas quarantined in Las Vegas earlier than assembly the sharks, he furthered studied the method of his once-in-a-lifetime pitch.

"All I could do was practice," Fields mentioned, including he was in "execution mode" when he arrived. He pitched a forged together with Cuban, new Minnesota Timberwolves proprietor Alex Rodriguez, CNBC contributor Kevin O'Leary and businesswoman Barbara Corcoran. After the pitch, he obtained two traders — Cuban and Corcoran — who took 25% of the company.

"I love the product," Cuban instructed CNBC in an electronic mail. "I ordered one while the show was being filmed."

Added Fields: "It was great going through it, and after knowing those two believed in me as an entrepreneur and loved the product, that was more than enough validation to say the company is going to be something special."

Batteries not included 

Shortly after recapping the present, Fields recalled extra of GRIND's course of. He pointed to 2017 whereas recovering from 4 ACL surgical procedures, one of many extra excessive accidents in sports activities, particularly basketball. It was then that Fields knew making it to the National Basketball Association wasn't attainable.

Fields mentioned he realized how one can weld because of a pal and began engaged on the idea of the GRIND machine. He pitched early traders, however nobody offered cash. So he began working for Raising Cane's, a well-liked fast-food chain and an area automotive wash, saving practically $25,000.

Fields mentioned he turned a "self-taught, mechanical engineer," paid himself $300 per 30 days, and labored on prototypes and proof of idea in his storage.

"Just perfecting the machine and making it great," Fields remembered.

Even Rodriguez saluted Fields' persistence on social media. "I got a lot of love, but he ended up being out," Fields mentioned of Rodriguez.

Today, the taking pictures machines are manufactured in Idaho, and Fields has eight staff, together with 4 engineers. GRIND additionally landed an NBA group cope with the San Antonio Spurs, who use the machine for his or her youth camps.

"We targeted the Spurs because they have the best and largest youth organization in the NBA," Fields mentioned. "It was strategic, and we didn't partner with them because they were close by."

GRIND is engaged on a battery that may be added to the machine. It was one of many considerations Cuban had earlier than investing. The machine makes use of an extension wire for energy, which Fields famous Cuban instructed him made the product non-portable because it nonetheless wants an influence outlet.

"At the end of the day, we don't want customers walking around with 100-foot extension cords," Fields mentioned. "We want them ready to go and worried about getting better."

Ambitions of Nike and Peloton

Fields is coming into a aggressive sports activities gear market. According to agency Grand View Research, the sector is anticipated to succeed in $89.2 billion in 2025. And GRIND can also be competing with the tech sector, as corporations like Apple are promoting sports activities and health coaching subscriptions.

"The way I see it, there is only so much that software can bring to an individual," Fields mentioned. "There is also so much that hardware can bring to a consumer. I've always been of the mindset of bringing the best of both worlds.

"I consider our {hardware} solves an actual downside that no software program will ever have the ability to determine – getting your made and missed photographs and robotically passing the ball out and permitting you to shoot over one thousand photographs an hour. No software program can try this."

Fields says he wants to build GRIND as a combination of Nike and Peloton.

"It's an ideal time for us to return in and alter the world of basketball via interactive sports activities gear," Fields said. "I believe the long run is brilliant for us. We're rather more than a taking pictures machine company."

And now the method continues.

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