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All successful entrepreneurs know the same truth. The startups that evolve into Fortune 500 companies are the startups that solve real-world problems. Paul Graham, legendary venture capitalist and co-founder of Y Combinator, believes that most start-ups fail because the founders come up with an elegant solution to a problem that does not exist.
The story of how Paul Anton and Lyth Saeed started Huupe is a paradigmatic example of Graham’s advice. Beyond solving a problem that Anton and Saeed were directly experiencing in their own lives, the two co-founders masterfully incorporated cutting-edge software & hardware, sleek design, as well as their professional expertise to create a one-of-a-kind product.
Huupe is the world’s first ‘smart basketball hoop,’ leveraging machine learning, computer vision, IoT technology, gamification, and a brand new way to interact with others. This innovative new product is disrupting the international basketball industry for the better, allowing enthusiasts to train with professional-grade coaches, utilize data to track their progress, and compete with friends across the world.
As childhood friends, Anton and Saeed bonded over technology and art, but always made time to play basketball together. When the Milwaukee natives eventually grew up and moved to different cities for college, they found themselves longing to continue their tradition of playing one-on-one, HORSE, and various other basketball games. Interestingly enough, Anton and Saeed bootstrapped the first iteration of Huupe by using Snapchat to play ball with each other from across the United States.
Holding the phone in one hand and the ball in the other, Anton and Saeed would film themselves playing basketball games, like HORSE, and would send the clips back and forth to one another via Snapchat. While this was an early, slightly crude, solution, Anton and Saeed had successfully solved their problem of not being able to play basketball together while apart.
After graduating, the childhood friends continued to follow their own paths, building their skills in SaaS, AR/VR, advertising, entrepreneurship, machine learning, and computer vision. Saeed went into the technology industry, leading operations at Qup, a mobile rideshare app, helping the company as they expanded internationally. After, Qup, Saeed joined Jobot, a company using artificial intelligence to innovate the recruiting space.
After a successful stint running a digital billboard business, Anton created an augmented reality program during his first summer in law school. Playing on his love for the sport and his time playing Snapchat-basketball with Saeed, Anton successfully created the AR application Real Shot, which allowed users to play basketball remotely as well as track date like makes & misses. After joining Deutsche Telekom’s hub:raum accelerator, Anton finally showed Saeed his game. Immediately after playing Real Shot on the Microsoft HoloLens, Saeed understood Anton’s vision, reminiscent of their college Snapchat-basketball days, and wanted to help push it forward.
Right away, the idea for Huupe came to life as Saeed quit his job and joined Anton’s mission. The two lifelong friends could finally get back to solving a problem that they were passionate about and that was pertinent to their lives, as well as the lives of millions of basketball fans worldwide.
Getting started right away, Anton and Saeed were able to secure $1.8 million in funding with the help of a video that they produced in 30 days, illustrating both the value of their product as well as their entrepreneurial savvy. After one year of grinding and iterating, breaking hundreds of prototypes along the way, the CEO and COO, along with their CTO Dan, successfully created a high-tech, smart, basketball hoop that was as innovative as it was sleek. Leveraging weatherproof hardware, computer vision, machine learning, gamification, and social media principles, Huupe allows users to play with their friends across the country, access NBA level training, track their progress, watch professional highlights, as well as compete in fun challenges with other users.
Offering thousands of lessons, in-depth analytics, and fun games, Huupe is disrupting how basketball players and enthusiasts play the game. With players like Thaddeus Young and Trevor Booker already showing interest, we cannot wait to see what Huupe does next. For more information, you can visit their website and follow their Instagram.