Create the best performing sports equipment in the world. That was the mission established by Garry Singer and Mitchell Slater when they created ClearSports, LLC. They started with manufacturing and marketing something as simple as a golf ball, then shifted to build out a line of tennis rackets, and now the duo is focused on furthering developing its golf product line.
ClearSports, founded in 2010, claims that cost is not a concern. The founders, a former attorney and concert promoter, promised to use the best materials and technology and commission the best designers and engineers to deliver what they allege to be the best products available in golf and tennis. It is a bold claim that can be backed by few whom have the requisite resources to cover a strong spend in the early stages of a startup.
How high tech and high performance prices are justified.
The sports industryis expected to reach $73.5 billion by 2019. The merchandising component of that figure should be substantial, with a prediction of $14.4 billion emanating from that category alone. However, the percentage defined as high tech/high performance, which ClearSports finds itself within, is subject to fairly broad discretion.
Thus, ClearSports cannot be focused on market cap. Instead, its focus is on the creating the best performing sporting good products by working with the top composite engineers and professional athletes.
"In terms of golf and tennis, all of the major manufacturers are designing, manufacturing and marketing high tech performance products as a part of their lines, including clubs, racquets, clothing, shoes, golf balls, chips to measure racquet and club metrics, etc.," said Singer, CEO of ClearSports. "However, these manufacturers are also focused on mass production and controlling variable costs. ClearSports is distinct in that our mission is to design and manufacture the best performing sports equipment possible using today's leading edge technology, without constraints related to mass production and variable costs. By design, we limit manufacturing to ensure the most detailed inspection process in the industry - and we are unbound by cost constraints because we appeal to a niche of sports enthusiasts who are comfortable paying a premium for the best performing products."
ClearSports' costs are generally higher than other sports equipment companies, but the company only caters to those whom understand that there is a premium placed on quality products.
Why golf and tennis mix well for a sports product startup.
ClearSports remains, first and foremost, a golf ball company. It has been described as occupying "the upper echelon of premium golf balls." But the company also chose to expand to tennis, introducing a line of tennis rackets in 2015.
"The synergies are significant because there is a significant segment of players (golf and tennis) who want the best products - golf and tennis products that offer the highest competitive advantage - players who want to take any equipment doubts off the table - golfers and tennis players who take the time to understand the technology and embrace it," said Singer.
The important takeaway for the entrepreneur is to know your market. Golf and tennis players and professionals are similar in that they will often care less about the cost if it leads to real enhancement of performance. The same may not be true in other sports or marketplaces, where lack of affluence may have to be taken into greater consideration and price points are of a bigger concern.
Limited quantity and exclusivity have driven demand.
Singer and Slater understand that they have created valuable products and have used simple economics to drive demand and further justify pricing. ClearSports' key product -- its golf ball -- is only available on a limited basis through an invitation-only Clear Golf membership. Prospective members are referred by current members or may inquire about membership.
The company has also secured prominent golfers and celebrities in Sean Connery, Paul O'Neill, Jeremy Roenick and Ivan Lendl to use the Clear ball, which adds to the cache of the product. They are not paid endorsers, a fact that has the potential to enhance the perception of the ball among consumers.
ClearSports' target user is an athlete who wants the absolute best equipment, is willing to pay the price for it, and craves exclusivity. After 6 years in business, the startup seems to have figured out the secret sauce to success as it continues to expand on its existing line of products.