The goal of Hardly Hustle is to provide inspiration, drive and motivation in a 10 minute read or less. What you see is what you get. This is hot off the press without an editing team.
Lee Kincheloe is up.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Lee Kincheloe. I am the CEO and Founder of Tennisbloc LLC. I grew up in NC and attended North Carolina State University to study Entrepreneurship and Marketing while squeezing in tours with a band on the weekends. I grew up in a working class family and among my hobbies, I developed a passion for two things in particular: music and tennis. Coming from a working class family, I learned the importance of not just money, but opportunity. I also attended Wake Tech Community College as I saved money for NC State. Going this route I believe enabled me to gain the money management/discipline and courage to take some money I had saved during my time at Wake Tech and seize the opportunity to launch my first company aimed at making one of my passions, tennis, more accessible to everyone.
What did it take / how did you get started?
I loved tennis growing up, but coming from a working class family, I saw several barriers of entry to the sport I loved so much. Joining a private club just to play tennis is far too expensive and local recreation options may be far away or lack the resources and technology to run truly great programs at. I saw an opportunity to partner with neighborhoods, schools, clubs, and parks with underutilized tennis courts, and establish strong and positive tennis (and pickleball) programs that anyone can join. We act as a turn-key solution for our partnered venues and offer group lessons, camps, and private lessons for tennis and pickleball. This brings value to our partnered venues by generating additional revenue using the amenities they’ve already paid for, and by offering a professional service that makes the community more successful through more engaged and happy residents; all while offering an awesome tennis/pickleball experience at a lower cost. As we continue to gain momentum, we are also branching out into developing technologies that empower tennis organizers and communities everywhere to better manage their members and leagues, through software that delivers increased efficiency, engagement, and retention. Today, just like on day one, our goal is to make tennis a more affordable, accessible, and inclusive sport.
What does the future look like for you and your hustle?
Moving into 2021, we will be launching programs several new locations across NC, expanding our after-school programs more, and ramping up our software solutions to further tap into the global sports management software market as we push forward on our mission to make tennis a more accessible and inclusive sport and creating better experiences for players across the world.
What drives / motivates you?
Knowing the positive difference that tennis and pickleball makes on our lives, plus the power of positive community, our motivation is creating those positive experiences for players everywhere, especially those that were unable to participate due to financial barriers or lack of local options.
What advice would you give someone interested in doing what you do?
Talk to people and put people first. If you listen, people will more often then not tell you what pain points they have. Being successful doesn’t come from cutting margins, it comes from solving a problem and creating a meaningful experience for customers.
What has been the hardest part of the hustle?
In order to bootstrap the company, I did not take any pay from it for the first 3 years to help fuel the fire as it got off the ground. That said, it also brought additional financial discipline that I think has helped Tennisbloc in return.
What are a few resources that you'd recommend?
I recently read Traction, which was a great read. I encourage frequently reading books or listening to podcast specifically centered around an area of focus in your industry. Morning Brew has also been nice recently.
Side or full-time hustle?
List the founders
Lee Kincheloe (later joined by Jackson Bowen)
How many hours a week do you work on this hustle?
# of Employees?
3 Full-time, 24 part-time
When did you start?
How much did it cost to launch?
What were your funding methods and ballpark amount raised?
Bootstrapped; no money raised.
Any call to action?
We are always looking for tennis and/or pickleball instructors that love working with people and share our enthusiasm and mission values. We are also always on the lookout for potential partners, whether it be for launching programming or as a strategic partnership. If so, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.