Spotlight: The Fifth Set Solves a Unique Product for Tennis Players

Spotlight: The Fifth Set Solves a Unique Product for Tennis Players

Spotlight: The Fifth Set Solves a Unique Product for Tennis Players 150 150

Some of the most successful businesses start by solving a simple problem. Many tennis players have dealt with the simple problem of sweaty pockets. So The Fifth Set created a problem to solve it. Read about the product and the company behind it in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Sells tennis shorts with sweat-proof pockets.

Founder and CEO Yoni Malchi told Small Business Trends, “Our mission statement is “to free athletes from the distractions of sweat while performing at their highest levels. The first product we are selling is tennis shorts because tennis is unique in that it’s the only sport where you use your pockets regularly throughout the match to hold the most important thing – the ball! When players sweat their shorts get soaked and so do the balls inside the pockets.”

Business Niche

Solving a specific problem with a patented design.

Malchi says, “We are known for creating innovative tennis shorts with a stylish design that also solves this practical problem of sweat-soaked tennis balls. Our shorts were awarded a patent for having waterproof, accessible, and breathable pockets that allow you to hold the ball while you sweat hard all the way to the fifth set!”

How the Business Got Started

By patenting a unique design.

Malchi explains, “My wife, Danielle, and I started the journey of building the startup at our house before COVID. Through a friend of a friend who had started a shorts business himself at one point, we were introduced to several textile manufacturers that also had connections with cut and sew factories. After doing extensive research and meeting with all of the potential vendors, we landed on one that we liked based in Medellin, Colombia. With the vendor, we were able to iterate on prototypes until we found the right materials with the right design. We were ready to launch, but then COVID hit so we put everything on pause.

“While in the thick of COVID when we were all stuck in our house, I decided to apply for the patent. After painstakingly going back and forth with the patent office and my lawyer, we made our final submission and waited eagerly. A year and a couple of months went by. COVID subsided. In January 2023, we were awarded the patent. This was the event that set us off to start the business in earnest and we haven’t looked back since!”

Biggest Win

A successful crowdfunding campaign.

Malchi adds, “After receiving the patent, and restarting the business we needed something different to focus our launch. We didn’t have the shorts in stock yet. But we wanted to create a buzz, see if there was a product-market fit, and get some pre-orders for the shorts. We decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign that ran for 40 days. We had a strong social media plan and a hilarious Kickstarter video that got us off to a great start. After 40 days, we ended up raising over $9,000 and pre-selling about 70 pairs of shorts! This was a great win for us and gave us the confidence to continue forward in our journey.”

Biggest Risk

Focusing on just one product.

Malchi says, “Most apparel brands come out with a big line of items in a variety of colors and designs. We wanted to start by selling one product to customers and doing it right. This way we could take the feedback from our users and incorporate it into the next iteration. This focused approach on one product with the goal of getting it into the market and iterating with customers is very much the approach taken in Silicon Valley with software development. Since we are still in the process of growing the business, the jury is still out about this risk going wrong! So far so good though.”

Lesson Learned

Take quality control seriously.

Malchi explains, “The first batch of short had a couple of issues that could have been easily avoided had I had a more rigorous approach to quality control. They came in and were a bit small overall. The smalls were basically extra-smalls, the mediums were basically smalls, etc. The root cause was that I didn’t have a variety of people try on each size and I didn’t triple-check the measurements of each of the sizes against a more “standard” pair of shorts.

“The first thing I would have done differently is have several people with different body types try on the different sizes of the prototype shorts and give me their feedback. I should have also been more rigorous with my measurements and bumping them up against a standard. The drawstrings were also a bit too long, especially on the smaller sizes. That should have been an easy one to catch! Overall, people just needed to size up a size or two and make sure to tie the drawstring in a double knot, but I could have avoided the excessive amounts of exchanges and returns I had to do.”

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Spreading the word.

Malchi says, “There are some great tennis tournaments I could sponsor and have a booth onsite, get the social media advertising humming, get product placement in the right outlets, and potentially partner with a professional player.”

Favorite Quote

“Do not try to do everything. Do one thing well.” – Steve Jobs.


Image: The Fifth Set, Yoni Malchi

This article, “Spotlight: The Fifth Set Solves a Unique Product for Tennis Players” was first published on Small Business Trends


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