Hmong-American entrepreneur develops pickleball paddle for younger generations

Fuyei Xaykaothao has only been playing pickleball for about three years, but in that short amount of time, he is already making his mark on the popular sport.

"I wanted to create something that was more accessible for people to get into, to play pickleball without breaking the bank" Xaykaothao told FOX 9.

Xaykaothao played tennis in college but his three young kids never showed any interest in it because the scoring is too complicated.

Back in 2019, he picked up pickleball as a way to fend off boredom in the middle of winter and to give his kids something active to do.

"Wanting to get the kids off their iPads, went out there, tried to hit the ball around a little bit, and the kids eventually fell in love with it," said Xaykaothao.

Xaykaothao developed his own paddle with a longer handle, grippier surface and signature assassin ninja girl after his oldest daughter asked for one that was more cool and empowering.

Since then, he started PikNinja Sports, a nod to his nickname "Pickleball Ninja" when he first started playing.

CNN recently named one of his paddles the best for beginners.

"We're like the Pepsi of the pickleball world, right? The next generation of pickleball," said Xaykaothao.

PikNinja's paddles range from $100 to $170.

So far this year, they've already sold about 500, after selling 1,000 last year.

Xaykaothoa also holds free community clinics to teach young people how to play pickleball, but he believes his commitment to growing the sport for everyone is what makes his paddles a smashing success.

"It's meant so much for us to just get out there and try to impact the community to, you know, be visible and to lead by example," said Xaykaothao.