Barrett and Megan - you’ve both been athletes and involved with athletics throughout your careers. What is the most critical personal characteristic that you both have and have seen in others that is a must-have for any athlete?
Meg: Perseverance and tenacity are the hallmarks of a great athlete. Competing against the best of the best, I lose more than I win. It’s something we all have to get comfortable with and not let those losses interfere with the motivation to keep fighting, keep learning from your losses, keep improving.
How did you transition those qualities to your professional lives?
Barrett: There are so many parallels between success in athletics and success in business. To start a new business (especially a business that requires raising money from investors), you have to have almost a maniacal degree of discipline and resilience to keep going in the face of endless challenges. You are going to hear “no” 100 times more than you hear “yes”. People will tell you your idea is stupid, that it won’t work, or that you’re not qualified to do it. You have to believe in yourself and then work like hell to see it through.
The other parallel, without getting too cheesy, is that in both sports and business, you 100% need a strong and cohesive team around you. You have to be self-aware enough to recognize your own weaknesses and blind spots, and then smart enough to surround yourself with people who can help fill in those gaps and help you succeed.
As pickleball/tennis players and coach, how did you maintain your fitness and healthy habits in order to maximize your potential?
Meg: We start each day with some type of physical activity – run, peloton, pickleball, or weights. When I’m training for a tournament, I’ll end every day with another training session. I’m a big fan of the 80/20 rule: 80% of the time we cook healthy meals at home; but will I deny myself a milkshake on the weekend? No way. It’s about balance!
Barrett: I am someone who’s mental sharpness and mood entirely relies on getting regular physical exercise. It doesn’t have to be much, most days I just go for a 20 minute jog in the morning. And sometimes those 20 minutes can be hard to find on a super busy day! But I know that if I don’t prioritize it, I won’t be able to give my best to Rally, to Meg, and to the people in my life.
For those who don’t know this: WHAT IS PICKLEBALL? What are the top 5 things to know about pickleball?
Meg: Pickleball is a paddle sport that looks a little like mini tennis and plays a little like ping pong. It’s blowing up nationwide because it’s so easy to learn and so much fun to play.
Five things to know about pickleball:
- It’s been around way longer than most people think. It was invented in 1965 by three dads in Seattle in an attempt to entertain their bored kids.
- There are two pro tours (APP & PPA), as well as a professional league (Major League Pickleball). Major sports networks like ESPN and Tennis Channel have all signed broadcasting deals to air these pro events.
- Last year, more than 36 million Americans played pickleball – nearly 14% of the population!
- It’s attracting some big-names! High-profile celebrity investors include LeBron James, Heidi Klum, Mark Cuban, and Tom Brady.
- Anyone can play! In fact, the number one player in the world is a 16 year old girl from Florida.
Did you launch Rally prior to the pandemic? How have you seen the game change since launching your community?
Meg: We began working on the idea for Rally about a year before the pandemic, and then (like so many businesses) the pandemic required us to pivot in several ways. One such pivot was the decision to launch in Charlotte, NC, rather than Richmond, VA, where we were initially looking. In the end, that decision was absolutely the best thing for the business. Of course, the game absolutely exploded during the pandemic, which helped us as well!
Barrett: Pickleball today looks nothing like it did when we started Rally! In the beginning, 99% of people we’d pitch the idea to either had never heard of the game before, or they associated it with their grandparents’ active living community in Boca. It was an uphill battle to get people to believe pickleball was going to be the next big thing. But I think we can safely say we’re there now. Today, you can’t open a newspaper without seeing a pickleball headline. The demand for courts is insane – there’s currently 1 court for every 200 people that want to play. And now, the fastest growing demographic in pickleball is 18-35 year olds – Rally’s core audience!
What void did you see that Rally Entertainment fills?
Barrett: I grew up going to a country club where I played tennis every summer and made all of my best childhood friends. What I loved about it was that I had this built-in community and a space where I could socialize with my friends, either through sport or over cocktails at the bar. As I’ve gotten older, that outlet has become much harder to find. We felt like there was a real opportunity to take the best elements of a country club – the community, fantastic food and drink, comfort, competitive spirit and camaraderie – and modernize the experience for a younger, more inclusive audience. We built Rally for people who enjoy being active, but who also appreciate a killer cocktail in a beautifully designed space.
Meg: As pickleball has exploded over the past year, and other pickleball entertainment concepts have emerged, we continue to differentiate Rally as an upmarket, urban brand where the experience is rooted in elevated hospitality first and foremost.
Walk us through your typical day and how you split your time and responsibilities?
Barrett: There is no typical day! The reality of start-up life is you are putting out new fires every day, and you have to somehow find a way to keep the other balls moving forward while putting out the new fires. Our first venue is currently under construction in Charlotte, NC, and it’s a behemoth of an operation to prepare for. We’re also lining up our next three markets for expansion, which means non-stop calls with investors, building our management team, meetings with lenders and developers, and running financial projections until I can’t see straight.
Meetings are the bane of our existence, but they’re necessary. I think the biggest learning curve for me has been shifting from the mentality of “Take every meeting! You never know where it’ll get you!” to really prioritizing my time and only joining the meetings that absolutely require me to be present.
Has your wardrobe changed at all since becoming founders?
Meg: It’s funny, because I think we’ve both evolved from very different starting points. As someone who’s worked in sports most of my life, I’m all about athleisure! But as a business owner, I’ve had to find ways to dress up my daily look, while still staying true to myself and my style. These days, I find a simple blazer does the trick, even if I’m rocking my favorite Lululemons on the bottom! On Zoom, the lower half doesn’t matter, right?
Let’s talk fashion… what do you wear to a birthday party?
Barrett: Whose birthday is it? Nine out of ten times, the birthday parties we attend these days call for something casual and comfortable. In the winter, jeans and a sweater or blazer. A maxi dress in the summer.
You’ve showcased weddings on your social platforms. What do you look for in buying wedding guest dresses?
Meg: What’s important to me is that I’m comfortable, otherwise I won’t enjoy the night! I have long legs, so I love a sleek romper or jumpsuit.
Barrett: Ditto on the comfort factor. If it’s too tight or too short, forget it. I love a long flowy dress, and in the summer I like to choose fun, bold colors.
Do you have any favorite fashion or beauty hacks that take you from the court to an event?
Meg: I am literally never without chapstick.
Barrett: Hydration is everything! I have my water bottle glued to my hip whenever I leave the house.
Where can our community find you?
Meg: On Instagram you can find me @megcharitypickleball and you can find Rally @rallypickleball. More coming soon!