During the early startup days, we at freebowler caught up with a few entrepreneur friends running startups. One of the entrepreneurs told us the core business ideology from a financial standpoint was to sell products/services to at least 1% of the total market size for the business to be a successful one, and 2% would be market domination. We were quite intrigued by that ‘number’ and then started doing our research by digging deep into some of the successful early-stage startups, and learned more about their financial structure like profit margins, total market share, and their business models. While he wasn't entirely correct, that led us to do some homework, and we learned a thing or two about profit margins for hardware sports businesses, total market size versus available market size and few other things.
So the 1% market share idea (i.e. selling to 1% to the total market size, in our case 1% of the total registered cricketers around the globe) became the goal.
The Road To 50,000 freebowler Cricket Training Aids Around The World
That brings us to the topic of Road to 50,000. Let me break it down further. Our goal at freebowler since the inception of the product concept has always been sell at least 50,000 of the superthrower units across the globe for us to be successful, and prove the worth of the product concept and innovation. According to our research, there are around 5,000,000 cricket playing entities — cricket clubs, academies, sports facilities, schools, colleges, and universities, corporate and government organizations, and residential communities, “including the individual registered cricketers.” It's safe to assume that this number is easily more than 5M, but for the sake of argument, we took aa conservative approach. So 1% of 5,000,000 potential buyers (total market size) puts us to 50,000 (available market).
Because of this, that 50,000 number will be an obsession forever, and we are running the sprints, although we realize that it's a marathon. Our souls will not rest in peace until we’ve achieved those numbers.
So, HOW, WHY, and WHAT will it take for us to get there?
Let’s start with “THE WHY.” We at freebowler have always had an evident vision with our superthrower project to help cricketers achieve their cricketing greatness. We believe the challenges with ball throwing has always existed and will continue to live as long as cricket exists. There’s no taking away from the fact that there will be continued innovation of one or more kinds of ball throwing cricket training aids to help cricketers. We’ve all faced challenges with batting practice including poor quality bowlers, inconsistency, fitness issues, injuries, just to name a few. And we all wished ‘at some point’ in our cricketing careers that we'd have something that could keep throwing balls at us with decent speed, line, and length, so you could keep hitting the ball all day without having to rely on anybody else.
I know that I wished for something like that, and thought “what if we had something inexpensive, non-electric and capable of throwing real cricket balls consistently at speeds I’m comfortable with, and have it be portable so I can keep it and take it with me wherever I went.” That for me, was always my dream!! This brings us to the 1% rule again. I've always believed that there’s got to be at least 1% of crazy passionate cricketers, just like me, out there in the world who has the need and dream for a ball thrower just like I’m thinking. There is at least ‘that one guy’ on the team who’s very passionate and takes the responsibility and manages the team activities, always working in the best interest of the team, helping the team do well though he may or may not be the captain. He’s the coordinator, operator, manager, organizer- the all-in-one person who takes on the toughest job. That one crazy ‘team person’ in every cricket playing entity is our perfect target audience who can communicate and convince their team members to try out our ball throwing innovation. So our idea was to find and go after that one crazy cricketer across the globe, hoping at least 1% of those will convert. (1% of 5M =50,000), bringing us to our magic number 50,000.
I know we’ve been talking a lot about numbers. Honestly, our ultimate vision above all these numbers, facts, figures, etc. is to fulfill the cricketing needs of all passionate cricketers and helping them complete their training experience. Financial success is excellent, but real success is providing value to the people who need the service, which will then go on to have a huge impact /influence on their lives.
When we practiced cricket, we always felt there was a huge missing component in the overall ‘cricket experience.’ How to create the ‘true match experience' was an elusive issue. We wanted to create something that gets as real and close as possible to the ‘experience,' so that people can relate to and connect on an emotional level. It's not all that often that a cricketer gets to recreate best moments! We didn't want people to miss out on the in-game feeling.
That’s one side of recreating the ultimate cricket practice experience, on the other hand, we wanted to develop a cricket training aid that comes as close as possible to a real game scenario, and simulated challenging real-time situations for players to be prepared and equipped for the actual game itself. We wanted to create a level playing field for the aspiring cricketers to train like the pros. Having spent some time out of the country, like the USA, which embraces sports but not cricket, I could feel the pain of what others undergo. People are deprived of cricket and are hungry for playing the game and having the match experience, but there’s not enough support in terms of infrastructure or a system in place for people to fulfill their cricketing hunger. Beyond the USA, a lot of other emerging cricket playing nations also undergo the same struggle of missing out on the cricket experience. So the mission was to empower all the cricketers, wherever they were at, to help them achieve their cricketing greatness, be it recreationally or professionally.
Next, HOW can we reach the 50,000 mark.
We can’t do it by ourselves. At the moment, there's no way we can fulfill the needs of the entire cricket-playing population without working with successful partnerships and existing industry leaders. We believe strategic partners and resources play a crucial role in helping the freebowler cricket training aid reach masses.
We still firmly maintain that our core competency at freebowler is ‘product innovation,’ providing the best training experience, developing innovative training aids through constant customer feedback and interaction. We want to recreate the magic through the freebowler experience. The ‘experience’ may be in our hands, but the channels to deliver the ‘experience' must be delegated.
With that said, we want to position this training aid as an integral part of everyday practice and make it a part of the cricket kit, and hopefully someday see freebowler Superthrower everywhere a cricket net installed. We see freebowler Superthrower just like a cricket bat, ball, gears, stumps, other cricket training equipment which every cricketer uses as a part their training module. Eventually, the ‘non-electric and portable cricket ball throwers’ will become one of the essential accessories needed to complete the training session. As things catch up, every cricket equipment manufacturer will have their version of the ‘non-electric and portable cricket ball thrower’ made. With the way cricket is growing and expanding globally, this is inevitable; this is going to happen just like the bats, balls, pads, helmets, and more.
So with that theory, we want to improvise our business model, not get too ambitious and get ahead of ourselves, but be self-aware of our limitations and challenges.
Instead of creating competition (which is good in a way), we want to create a co-existing innovation eco-system where every brand is a co-innovator instead of a competitor.
We know this is different from the traditional business structure in cricket. However, our end goal is to help cricketers win. We want all cricketers to succeed by having the best possible cricket batting training experience. If they win, then the objective is served; their victory is our victory. There’s no better feeling than to hear from happy customers about their enjoyable experience, a thank you for making their dream moment come true. It’s just invaluable; you can’t attach a price tag to that feeling. A fulfilling experience for our customers is a fulfilling experience for us.
But our goal is bigger than us. Our goal is to work with the most prominent cricket equipment manufacturers /cricket brands like SG, SS, GM, SF, BAS, SPARTAN, KOOKABURRA, GRAY NICOLLS, FLX (Decathlon), among the others to help get this training aid reach masses through their already established distribution channels and streams. These cricket brands have access to an extensive distribution network across the globe with their loyal user base, collaborations, associations, and partnerships with the regional cricket boards, top cricket leagues, schools, clubs and more. We don’t want to create a new one, given today’s transactional nature of the business it doesn’t just make sense for us to build our distribution model on top of the existing ones which only creates more havoc and friction for people interested in buying our product. We’d instead let the brands do what they are best at doing by allowing them to market it and sell it, while we focus on the ‘experience’ and build a brand around the ‘experience.’ Which will enable us to keep our core competency in product design, development, innovation, manufacturing in-house, and licensing the technology through partnerships with top cricket brands around the world to fulfill the orders.
Working with strategic partners gives the ability to fulfill orders by creating a need in the marketplace. Established brands know how to sell 50,000 of a product. But when it comes to influencing the buying decisions and driving purchases by speaking the same language as cricketers, decision-makers and influencers over brands play a key role. Partnering up with boards, organizations, and associations and bringing them value to their cause by participating in their cricket development initiatives and programs helps to accelerate the process.
1.10,000 units: Cricket Associations, Boards, Organizations — ICC, Cricket Australia, ECB, Cricket South Africa, and more (there are about 105 of them currently affiliated with ICC and a few more with no international recognition.)
2. 20,000 units — Brands: Strategic Partners and Resources: SG, SS, GM, SF, BAS, SPARTAN, KOOKABURRA, GRAY NICOLLS, FLX (Decathlon), Last Man Stands (LMS), CricClubs, Sports Mechanics, Cricheroes, Pitch Vision, etc.
3. 15,000- Micro Influencer Marketing: Celebrity endorsements/Brand Ambassadors, My Cricket Coach (235K subscribers on YouTube), Cricket Mentoring (88K on Instagram), We Coach Cricket, Just Cricket Academy, Snehal Pradhan, CricTracker, etc..
4. 5,000- freebowler Social Media Strategies: Facebook, Instagram, Google, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
This brings us to fifty thousand through various marketing and strategic partnerships. Internal marketing activities generating and distributing content gives us the credibility, exposure, and visibility, which then later drives the sales through other marketing and sales channels. So it’s vital for us to keep up the momentum with our marketing efforts which will serve as the starting point for driving other business development opportunities.
What does it take for us to reach the 50,000 mark
Most of the strategies mentioned above would take some time to be implemented and executed, if we did it on our own and went the traditional business development route. In the grand scheme of things we know that’s how all other home-grown businesses like SG, SS, Gray Nicolls were built in a meaningful and profitable manner (over a 50 to 60-year window.) With some more wiggle room and financial backing to support the above-described business development activities, we believe we can engage with channel partners and reach the 50,000 mark. But more importantly, still bring value to all the stakeholders (businesses and customers) in the industry by continuing to innovate the product, which could otherwise lose relevance as time passes and the consumer attention shifts.
We see that the market is perfectly ripe for a product like this because there’s always been a bit of a hole in the training space. With today’s cricket playing population exploding through commercialization around the globe, there’s an appetite for a cricket batting practice machine like never before. While there's an attribution period for the sales cycle, we still believe we can reach the 50,000 mark in the next 10–12 months through channelized marketing efforts: channel partners, influencers, brands and more, by educating them on the importance of this cricket training aid which will soon become popular through word of mouth as more people start using it and benefiting from it.
We are big on building a sustainable system that'll reach millions and millions of cricketers across the globe who require a training aid like the superthrower to fulfill their training needs. With the support and assistance from other passionate cricketers just like us who are all about providing value and making cricketing greatness accessible, we believe it's possible!