The origin story of Bison Paddles is hazy — even to the company’s founders Collin Peterson ‘21 and Daniel Warren.
“I think one thing that was happening was you had played once or twice with your aunt?” Peterson suggests during a Zoom meeting.
But the idea to start a pickleball paddle company definitely emerged after the two met during a ping-pong class at Utah State University.
“It was a fun part of the day,” Peterson says. “Once that class was over it was just a way for us to do the same kind of stuff but just on a bigger scale.”
The two began playing pickleball at the Aggie Recreation Center and discovered a business opportunity: produce durable and attractive pickleball paddles.
“The paddles we were using were breaking down [and] the graphics just weren’t good,” Peterson explains. “We wanted to really push this idea of quality.”
They launched Bison Paddles in August of 2020 — perfect timing for supply chain issues — and have tried to keep the durable, fashion forward paddles in stock ever since.
“We’ve never known not having issues,” Warren admits. “We sell out all of the time. We always have.”
Pickleball doesn’t require fancy equipment or a large facility — just a net and a 44′ by 20′ patch of pavement will get the job done. Initially the sport (imagine if table tennis and actual tennis had a baby) — gained prominence among older adults because it was less likely to cause injuries since the ball is soft like a Wiffle Ball and slower moving. But pickleball is popular across age demographics.
“I’ve seen [news articles saying] pickleball was a remedy to COVID cause it’s non-contact. It’s this new and exciting thing that got people outside,” Peterson explains. “Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America, probably the world, honestly. … It can bring people of all ages together.”
Warren, a senior marketing major, and Peterson, a graduate of the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, knew they wanted to start a company together and mulled over possibilities like opening a smash room.
“They were kind of a trendy business at the time,” Warren explains. “We almost opened one here in Logan, which we are quite glad we didn’t because of COVID.”
Ultimately, they settled on something they both loved — pickleball — and used resources from YouTube to USU professors to bring Bison Paddles to market.
“It’s actually pretty cool,” he says. “When we tell [people we started the brand], they are like, oh yeah, my dad has one of those.”
From the outset, Bison Paddles has donated a portion of the profits to support the National Buffalo Foundation because many of the brands they admire most give back in some way.
“I think there is a shift with brands being expected to be more socially responsible,” Warren says. “A lot of the younger generation people are just coming to expect that, which I think is a good thing.”
By Kristen Munson
Photo by Levi Sim
Learn more at https://bisonpickleball.com/