The idea for Pips and Bounce came about when entrepreneurial brothers Michael and Eugene Jung realized growing up was not what they had envisioned and decided they wanted to find out how to have fun again. They will appear on Shark Tank on Friday, February 28, 2020 to see if they can get one of the sharks to invest in their business.
The ping-pong loving brothers first started Pips & Bounce in 2013. At the time, Eugene was living in New York City working in business development at law firms. Growing up, they’d spent a lot of time together in their basement rec room playing ping pong.
When Michael called him about the idea, Eugene and his then-fiance packed up and rode their motorcycles all the way to Portland, where they started their business.
Michael and Eugene pitched to sharks Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary, Lori Greiner, Daymond John and first-time guest judge Maria Sharapova.
Here’s what you should know about Pips & Bounce:
1. It Started Out as a Pop-Up Event
When Pips & Bounce started out, it was basically a one-off pop-up ping-pong party. The first event, which was publicized on Facebook, was supposed to be small, but then 200 people showed up.
After, Michael started throwing similar parties every month at different public events and private parties. At one point, they took over the Adidas Headquarters. It all started as a way to get people together in a way that wouldn’t include everyone sitting around, looking at their phone screens.
“Pips & Bounce was born with a different goal, it was really born to bring people together,” Michael told Heavy. “It’s a time where we need that more than ever. Everyone is stuck on their phones, everyone having disconnected conversations. It shows up in politics, it shows up in families, it shows up in relationships, and it’s kind of a tough time, I think. Everyone is lost.”
2. The Brick-and-Mortar Space Opened in 2014
Though they had a hard time getting the money to start out, Pips and Bounce was able to open the first brick-and-mortar location in 2014.
Michael said it was a long shot at first. Every bank they spoke to and every accountant they approached, they were turned down before finally obtaining a bank loan.
The initial reactions when telling friends and family about their idea was the general sentiment “good luck, but I don’t think it’ll work.”
Now, they’ve had people who shared their first dates at Pips & Bounce who have gotten married and come back to celebrate anniversaries. They’ve had people celebrate Bar Mitzfahs with ping-pong parties who later came back to celebrate their high school graduations.
3. They Thought They Had a 50 Percent Chance to Succeed
Prior to opening their location, Michael told his wife that he thought they had about a 50-50 chance to succeed. He said that if they failed, that would be okay. He viewed that possibility of a failure as an opportunity.
He said he told his wife that if they did fail, “Then our young children will have that rare opportunity to see daddy fall right on his face, get back up, and keep on going.”
Before opening, pretty much everyone viewed Pips & Bounce as an unproven concept that was coming from two brothers who didn’t have any experience in the hospitality industry.
“Honestly, we opened the doors and we gave ourselves 50-50 odds of making it. We are not restauranteurs, we don’t have any experience in the hospitality industry,” he said. “We’re just two brothers who gre up playing ping pong in our rec room in Appalachian Kentucky.”
4. It is Not Just a Place For Ping Pong Pros
One of the common misconceptions about Pips and Bounce, according to Michael, is the fact that it’s really just a place anyone can come to hang out.
Pips & Bounce customers range from casual to competitive, leaning more toward the casual end. The idea is to be a place where people can have a bite to eat in one hand and a ping-pong paddle in the other. It’s more of a place for people to come to laugh than it is for people to come to train.
Now, Michael says that they haven’t just made it in the business, but they’ve become part of the very fabric of life in Portland.
5. The ‘Shark Tank’ Appearance Was About More than Money
Shark Tank was more than just an opportunity to get an investor for the Jungs. They wanted to expand their business through franchising, and they thought the sharks would be able to help them out with that.
“Literally since day one, people have been asking us: can you come to my town? Can you bring this home to me?” Michael said. People would often come to town for a bachelor party or another celebration, and people would ask if there was some way for them to bring Pips & Bounce home with them.
When there was a casting call for Shark Tank nearby, they decided to try out for the show. Shark Tank was seen as a way to make it possible to scale their message and business.
Tune in to Shark Tank on Friday, February 25 to see if the Jungs get a deal with the sharks.