Electrum Brings Silicon Valley Standards to Pickleball with Innovative Features
by laurapbc on Nov 15, 2019
If you haven't heard of them yet, it's worth your time to explore the Electrum Pickleball revolution. This up-and-coming manufacturer has been making waves with their flagship paddle, the Electrum, thanks to a series of unexpected innovations and highly consistent play. Popular among both intermediate players and pros, many have sought to develop a paddle that satisfies a broad segment of the pickleball population, but Electrum just might have done it.
Run by serial entrepreneurs Moheeth Alvi and Mike Kazley out of the always state-of-the-art Silicon Valley, it may be this duo's first foray into the pickleball industry, but their seasoned business backgrounds and love for the game have already made a mark. Having found its way into the hands of countless players at local courts and on a broader competitive stage, the Electrum is here to stay for good reason.
We had the opportunity to speak with Moheeth to learn about the numerous features that make the Electrum unique and what went into their design process. Find out how Electrum is setting themselves apart by reading on:
Why did you decide to enter the pickleball industry and what area of the market are you looking to address?
I discovered pickleball through Electrum’s co-founder, Mike. We started playing in Rochester, NY. We really enjoyed the game and went on a fascinating journey that led us to making a great product. Our main audience is any player looking to improve their game, whether they want to go from intermediate to pro or are already a high level player wanting to improve even further.
We tend to skew toward players who are around a 3.5/4.0 rating, but the Electrum Pro has seen success on a wide spectrum. Shellton JeanBaptiste is the highest rated pro player (5.0) on our team right now. He plays in the 25+ category. He’s really helped with distributing the Electrum Pro and has fully converted to using the paddle himself.
Another influential 5.0 player we have on board is Coach Phil Dunmayer. He’s been teaching for a long time, is a national champion himself, has authored books on pickleball and is overall a member of the game’s “old guard.” He’s done a lot to spread the sport and advocate for us.
How did you come up with the Electrum Pro’s design?
When making a paddle, our goal was to find and use the best materials in the market. Even when it came to the grip, end cap and edge guard—we deeply considered all of these aspects. Another big ingredient was using data to find out what worked not only on paper, but in players’ hands. We analyzed hundreds of players to find out what parts of the face they used the most.
Our design is totally proprietary, and we’re based out of San Francisco. We felt positive about bringing the modern, uncompromising quality of the Silicon Valley tech industry to pickleball which has resulted in our current engineering.
Studying competitors was our starting point, so we made sure we were using something no one else was. People have a tendency to think graphite and carbon fiber are the same, but there is a difference. We have a good amount of manufacturing connections overseas that provided a solid supply backbone for the company and went through an iterative process of creating paddles with different features.
We had an edgeless version at one point, another that was only 7.2 oz in weight. As we continued to get feedback from players we arrived at our final design. Most companies have multiple SKUs; we just have the one. The reason is that once you’ve collected enough data, you can make a paddle that fits 80—90% of players’ needs. There are niche paddles out there with a head-heavy feel and so on, but we wanted to make something that would benefit the largest segment of players possible.
This doesn’t mean we won’t continue creating new products, but we were committed to making something with a broad appeal. We were at the West Regional Tournament and sold 100 paddles there to many different people: 3.0s, 4.0s, pros. The Electrum Pro has a wide face and so you might think that would limit its appeal, but no one has thought it's unwieldy.
Would you explain a bit more about how you analyzed those data points to create a well-balanced paddle?
Yes, we ended up finding that most players really enjoy a paddle that has an evenly distributed weight. Essentially, every part of the face should feel like you’re playing from the center so you don’t skew a certain direction or lose out on power due to a less than perfect shot.
Even if you’re hitting close to the edge with the Electrum Pro, it offers great pop. You can take any paddle and find where the middle is, set it on your finger and check whether it leans toward the handle or the head. With the Electrum Pro, you’ll find it stays at an even 180 degrees. It’s a very balanced paddle which makes it easy to maneuver.
Out of all the paddles on the market, what makes this paddle unique?
Toray T700 - The carbon fiber we use is Japanese made. It’s the best you can source and uses a special molding technology that gives it a nice, grainy texture. It’s right up against the USAPA’s roughness limit (which has to be within 40 micrometers), so you really feel the fibers. This texture produces very accurate shots with great touch, which results in a lot of control.
While we were iterating we didn’t explicitly mention this to players, but people noticed the paddle's great handling and started calling this perk the “Electrum Spin.” We were happy to run with that! The carbon fiber also creates a look that stands out on the court. The simple, sleek design comes across quality-centric rather than needing to blatantly promote our brand. We figured: Produce a high quality paddle and it’ll sell itself.Electrum Pro Paddle
Full Cell Core - At first we tried using Nomex for our core, and it is a stronger material than polypropylene, but you don’t get as much absorption to soften impact and it makes a lot of noise. We were willing to sacrifice a little bit of power for more touch and a reduction of the noise factor. The Electrum Pro still has plenty of pop because the cells are so strong, and in fact we only use full cells in the honeycomb.
With a lot of companies you’ll find there’s very little material near the edge guard, creating a weaker and less responsive feel when you don't hit right in the center. With the Electrum, you get the benefit of whole cells near the edge and the guard is wrapped all the way around to create a consistent feel. We’ve basically created an “edge-to-edge” sweet spot. We don’t have images of our paddle with certain areas circled showing where players are supposed to hit, because we believe if you’re buying a premium paddle the entire face should be playable.
Carbon Fiber Handle - While the Electrum's edge guard is plastic, our handle is also made out of carbon fiber like the face. This offers a high level of durability and much better feel as opposed to using lower quality materials. The handle has an ergonomic design with a grip somewhat similar to those produced by GAMMA, but the one we use was fully designed by us. It's made using 100% leather so it won't sweat in your hand easily, feels comfortable and takes longer to wear unlike synthetic materials. The 4-1/4” circumference makes it suitable for most hand sizes since it’s a good medium ground.
What should a player expect when using the Electrum?
This weight and responsiveness is such that you don’t have to put in as much work to get the power you want. Less is more. It only takes a couple rallies to get used to the Electrum Pro since it has such a great balance. The paddle feels light, responsive and intuitive.
Shellton JeanBaptiste reviews the Electrum Pro
We appreciate Electrum taking the time to share their knowledge and contributions with the pickleball community. To hear more from Moheeth, check out this interview from Golden Boy Pickleball. Moheeth summed up by saying:
'We want our customers’ end-to-end experience to be amazing; we know people will be satisfied with the Electrum Pro and want as many players to benefit as possible.
Our mission at Electrum is to be an asset to the pickleball community firstly through the creation of great products and then by making pickleball more accessible on a global scale. We're looking forward to playing a part in the continued growth of the game and hope our current customers and new fans alike will help us share their love for this inclusive, exciting and versatile sport.'