Case Studies

Meet the pickleball brand finding cultural relevance with MarketPryce

MarketPryce student-athletes are young, diverse and highly engaged. A winning combination for brands of all sizes.

April 11, 2024

House Pickleball x MarketPryce

A quote that sums it up:
  • “It’s important to me that we’re getting all types of people on the team. That’s what provides that cultural relevance. If you’re sticking with the typical pickleball crowd — older white people — you’re not doing anything new or furthering that goal. It’s really important to us to have Gen Z on the athlete side. So MarketPryce fits in really well.” - Mark Vermylen, House Pickleball founder
The problem solved:
  • House Pickleball aspires to build a culturally relevant brand in partnership with young, diverse ambassadors. But they're hard to find.
  • MarketPryce helps House's founder authentically and efficiently source those relationships.
The cost:
  • House Pickleball’s founder was wasting time on influencer research, vetting and outreach.
  • MarketPryce allows him to reinvest that time into critical brand partnerships and fundraising.
  • House Pickleball quickly built a young, diverse and engaged community on MarketPryce.

House Pickleball’s goal: Become the urban pickleball brand

When Mark Vermylen set out to craft a generational pickleball brand, he knew New York was a key piece of fabric he would cut from. The Big Apple’s visual identity was antithetical to the country club aesthetic most people jump to when they hear: “Pickleball.”

That’s why he intentionally seeks out brand advocates who skew younger and more diverse. It’s all part of his brand vision. Of course, searching with this in mind was a massive time drain.

“MarketPryce saves my time prospecting for influencers, he said. “It takes a huge load off.”

Brands: Your first three matches are on us

In less than three months on MarketPryce, Mark connected with 75 student-athletes across the country. They attend HBCU's like Norfolk State, his alma mater (Georgetown) and some small schools like Blue Mountain Christian along with powerhouse athletic programs like Texas.

“This generation is the most diverse generation we’ve had yet,” Mark said. “And I want that reflected in our marketing, so MarketPryce is a perfect fit.”

Even with his relatively rigorous filters in place, Mark is finding powerful relationships on MarketPryce.

MarketPryce powers authentic relationships

Every MarketPryce Match starts with product gifting. Brands ship to student-athletes in exchange for feedback. The transaction stops there, meaning student-athletes aren’t expected or required to post content (though they often do!).

That sets a baseline for powerful, authentic relationships. Importantly, it avoids the dreaded transactional exchange that starts and stops with a half-baked social post in exchange for a product the student-athlete may not even like.

It comes as no surprise, then, that Mark is finding real brand fans through MarketPryce. They’re posting in-feed about his paddles without pushing for compensation. They’re adding him on LinkedIn and cheering him along his journey as a first-time founder. They’re actually getting out and sharing the paddles with their friends.

“It’s authentic communication and relationship building,” Mark said. “By having MarketPryce facilitate those connections, it just makes it easy for me versus cold DMing. It gives you the confidence to speak informally.”

Finding product-market fit with MarketPryce

Mark has offered House Pickleball product in two MarketPryce Season of Gifting campaigns, where student-athletes can choose from a collection of brands.

In both, House Pickleball was one of the first brands to sell out. It helped Mark see just how well his paddle was resonating with Gen Z. And that trend continued even when the roles were reversed and he was reaching out to student-athletes through MarketPryce’s software.

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He called it one of the strongest indicators of PMF the growing brand had ever seen.

“We have a 92 percent match rate on MarketPryce, so it indicates to me that we’re doing the right things,” Mark said. “It’s confirming everything that we’ve been doing to generate buzz, excitement and build a brand. The student-athletes are saying, ‘Oh, kids like me are playing pickleball’

Sourcing user feedback through MarketPryce

While users are excited to collect and use House’s paddles, they’re also sending Mark valuable feedback. One student-athlete let him know the white cases were getting dirty quick and suggested using different fabric.

“That’s stuff I don’t always get from regular customers,” he said. “It’s good to get that feedback.”

Interested in helping your team find quality athlete ambassadors that reinforce your brand’s identity? Schedule a call to learn more.

MARKETPRYCE MAKES it easy for brands and student-athletes to form authentic partnerships. Get started today.