Five Burning Questions with New England-Based Innovators: Huupe’s Paul Anton
In 2019, Paul Anton and Lyth Saeed founded Huupe - the world's first smart basketball hoop. Equipped with a backboard-size screen, camera and smart technology, Huupe’s smart basketball hoop aims to connect the world through basketball.
The ability to easily compete in shooting competitions and games with friends anywhere on the globe is truly revolutionary for basketball - and this is only one example about how Huupe is connecting the world through Basketball.
The most exciting aspect of Huupe, in my opinion, is how it promises to revolutionize basketball personal training. The screen, camera and technology in the backboard opens a whole new world of remote basketball training - and Huupe is poised to take advantage of this market through the coaching and training network that they are building.
Startup Boston (SB): Considering you went to college in Boston and founded your company in the city, how would you characterize the startup scene here?
Paul Anton (PA): I truly believe Boston is one of the top five cities in the United States to start a startup. The startup scene is full of smart people, many resources, a lot of top-tier talent and a real diversity of interests. It is really ideal in many ways. But like any city, it really is what you make of it. There are resources, but there is also competition. I would urge any aspiring founders in Boston to organically create a network of individuals that align with your values. Like any city, it is all about finding your people.
SB: I would love to hear about how you and your partner, Lyth Saeed, came up with the idea for Huupe.
PA: Lyth and I have actually been friends since childhood, when we both lived in Milwaukee. At this time, we really bonded over art and technology, but also always found time to play basketball together. We ended up moving to different cities for college and were determined to find a way we could continue to play shooting games like HORSE without being together physically.
One way we actually managed to do this was by using Snapchat. We would hold our phone in one hand and film ourselves shooting shots and send these videos back and forth. While it technically worked, I knew there had to be a better solution.
Upon graduating college, we both kind of continued to follow our own path. At this time Lyth was working in the technology industry and, during law school, I created an AR application called Real Shot that allowed users to play basketball remotely as well as track data like makes and misses.
From here, I joined Deutsche Telekom’s hub:raum accelerator - this was around the first time I showed Lyth Real Shot. Immediately after playing Real Shot on the Microsoft HoloLens, Lyth quit his job and we got to work on Huupe, which is an entirely separate company from Real Shot. While Real Shot is focused on AR, Huupe is focused on physical basketball goals that enhance basketball with the functionality of smart technology. Huupe is a true passion for both of us.
SB: Can you please talk about your route to securing funding?
PA: We began by bootstrapping a company using $60k of personal funds. From here we were able to raise $400k, then $1M, then $3M - eventually all the way up to $11M, where we are today. Early in the process, one of our first investors introduced us to Audie Attar, the founder and CEO of Paradigm Sports. Attar believed in our vision and became an investor, marking a huge milestone for our funding.
SB: How would you describe your industry and how Huupe is positioned in it?
PA: Specifically, we are in the basketball hoop industry. This industry has some very large players but is growing both on the supply and demand side. Currently, we are the only digital backboard in the space. So as far as smart basketball hoops, we don’t have any direct competition.
We offer revolutionary training and performance data functionality and as a result, have a slightly higher price point than portable hoops on the market. However, our price is right in line with other price points of in-ground, non-smart hoops from leading brands like Spalding, Titan, and others.
SB: And finally, congratulations on your seed funding. Can you describe what that means for you as a company, and what your plans are for the future?
PA: Thank you! This new funding means Huupe is going to be in every basketball family's home in the future. As we grow, we also have aspirations to expand into other sports including soccer. This is just the start for Huupe - we are excited to see where we can take it.
About the author - Parker Julian, a former college basketball player, is a writer and coach whose aim is to mentor and educate individuals about holistic approaches to personal health. Additionally, Parker is employed by Grant Thornton LLP as a consultant, where he is focused on designing and testing Information Technology risk strategies for large institutions.