Frank Sinopoli believes pop-a-shot games are worthy of a refresh befitting the Peloton era. Last year, the entrepreneur began developing HomeBallerz, adding social features and tracking tech to the mix. His vision includes transforming the sport from a basement diversion to a serious esport, using the ball and hoop for virtual team competitions and various mini-games.
“I really do see this thing going in the professional direction of being able to play competitively and professionally from home,” Sinopoli said. “I can turn this thing on and join a team, a league, play against anybody. I don’t need friends. I don’t need family. I can just turn this thing on and go competitive right away, like Call of Duty.”
HomeBallerz plans to launch early next year starting with influencers across sports and music. When the product becomes widely available, then everyone would try to top the game’s famous first players. It has already attracted a number of notable names.
Daina Falk (daughter of NBA superagent David Falk) is a co-founder. Producer Mark the Mogul is the company’s VP of music, and Hollywood star Tiffany Haddish is chief creative officer, helping to connect the company in the world of entertainment and likely serving as one of the faces of the game when it goes live in 2022.
David Meltzer, formerly CEO of the Leigh Steinberg Sports & Entertainment agency, is an investor and adviser to the company. “What basketball fan doesn’t dream about playing a game versus a longtime friend, a cherished celebrity or a superstar athlete?” Meltzer said in a statement. “This concept has enormous potential to realize all of that.” Vish Hindocha is another co-founder, and COO.
The HomeBallerz Arena will cost up to a Peloton-like price of $1,500 for a two-hoop model, with an additional monthly subscription fee for the online features, accessible through an attached touchscreen. Its built-in tech promises to accurately track scores and prevent cheating.
HomeBallerz comes along just over 40 years after Pop-A-Shot first emerged in 1981, invented by former Marymount College coach Ken Cochran. The game originally caught on at bars and events, charging $1 for a minute of play. In recent years, however, the company pivoted to designing products specifically for the at-home market as it competes with other companies offering similar setups. In June, Pop-A-Shot announced an unscripted competition series currently in development.
“People want to watch this stuff,” Sinopoli said, discussing the possibility of future HomeBallerz players developing audiences and even endorsements. The vision, then, sits between booms in both at-home, connected fitness and spectator digital gaming. “I feel like it’s a radical difference between the traditional arcade basketball game and what we’ve created here,” Sinopoli said.