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Q & ACE With Blake Renaud, Founder of PicklePlay

The Multi-Hyphenate Mom Behind The Most Comprehensive Pickleball App On The Market

August 01 2023
pickleball app
The Renaud family. Photo Credit: Blake Renaud

“If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.”

– Margaret Thatcher

Although it’s been decades since (the late) former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher included that comment as part of her address to the National Union of Townswomen’s Guilds Conference, the timeless essence of its message personifies Blake Renaud, Founder & CEO of PicklePlay, the enormously  successful mobile scheduling app Renaud founded in 2020 while seeking an all-in-one service where Pickleball player-enthusiasts could connect with one another, coordinate play and schedule events. Since that time, PicklePlay has amassed a global user base of more than 77,000 (95% U.S.-based), with an ever-increasing line-up of goods and services designed specifically for players, clubs, and organizations on a freemium to fee-based subscription model. 

The best part: Renaud led the team responsible for designing and building the web and mobile apps while raising her four children who, as of this writing, are between the ages of one to 11.

TUNDRA recently had the great pleasure of catching up with this inspirational multi-hyphenate: Mother–Entrepreneur/Founder – Athlete – Coffee Enthusiast for the inside scoop on how all this amazingness comes together in one PHENOMENAL leader. (Our words, not hers! )

pickleball game
PicklePlay offers geo-tagged locations for pickleball near you. Photo Credit: PicklePlay Instagram

Q. What most influenced your idea in creating and building PicklePlay?

A. Everything that we’ve built into PicklePlay has come from our own pain points experienced in playing pickleball ourselves. First, starting the sport or traveling: where do you even play? Once you learn, who do you play with? After you have your group or community club - how can you get more organized and avoid long confusing group chats and text chains? Of course, feedback from our users has been very valuable, but it all started with our own struggles coming into the sport!

Q. As a founder, what has building your brand taught you?

A. Building PicklePlay has taught me the value of pushing forward and not giving up. Building any business, let alone a mobile app is VERY challenging, and it would have been a lot easier just to quit or give up when things started getting hard or we faced challenges, but it is extremely rewarding to know we are making a difference and helping thousands of players around not only the US, but the world enter into a sport we all have grown to love!

Q. How did you power through your biggest challenges to-date?

A. Our biggest challenge so far has been getting players to try out our product and being willing to try something new. The demographic for clubs and groups does trend a little older -- change or working with technology can be perceived as challenging. However, we have taken the time to listen, adapt, and change features, continually improving and drawing upon our resources to make it as easy as possible for our clubs and private groups to post schedules, track attendance, and collect payments for events; a process that ultimately takes the group leaders’ and the players’ time into consideration so they have more availability on the court v. managing the admin side of the game. We are always ready to jump on zoom and/or schedule demo calls with our users – hands-on service is pretty rare to find in the technology industry, but we believe it’s a great way to understand our customers’ needs and resolve pain points they might be experiencing. 

pickleball games
The Renaud family proudly sporting PicklePlay merch. Photo Credit: PicklePlay Instagram

Q. What do you most enjoy about founding/leading your company?

A. I enjoy taking-in feedback and ideas from our users and our team and turning those recommendations into reality! It is very rewarding to know that taking the time to listen can lead to implementing a new feature that helps our users move forward! How cool that I have the ability to listen to a problem, solve it, and help make our pickleball players’ lives easier in the matter of a month or two.

Q. What inspires you – related or not related to the company?

A. I get inspired by the users who reach out to us, give a great review, send us a picture of their club or courts that have found value in our product! When I do planning sessions with our advisors and look at the opportunities ahead as the sport of pickleball grows, I am blessed to know we can be a small part of the extreme growth of the sport around the world!

Q. What’s your go-to ritual to jumpstart your day?

A. Water first always - then large glass of iced coffee! My mornings are pretty crazy, we have four children ranging in ages from 11 to one-year-old, so it takes us a minute to get going; every morning, myself, my husband, and our babysitter get our schedule together for the day, we know who is taking who, where and when – then we divide and conquer!

pickleball community
PicklePlay recently partnered with paddle company Wild Monkeys pickleball. Photo Credit: PicklePlay Instagram

Q. Most recent binge watch?

A. I am going to sound pretty boring, but to be honest after all the kids are in bed I am exhausted. I don't watch much TV - but we did enjoy Ted Lasso of course - who didn’t?!?

Q. Times New Roman or Helvetica?

A. Helvetica

Q. What’s your chill-down ritual at night?

A. We pray and thank God for the many blessings we have received, put the kids to bed and go to bed shortly after - I hate to say it, I am boring during the week! On the rare chance we weren’t at a practice or sporting event, we love to golf in the evenings or go to the pool as a family before bed.

most comprehensive app
PicklePlay's Club Management system is a great way to manage groups. Photo Credit: PicklePlay Instagram

Q. If you wake up in middle of night, what concern keeps you from falling back asleep?

A. PICKLEPLAY! There is no OFF button for running your own business, especially in the tech space. I have no one to take over for me as a small business owner, no maternity leave, no vacations, so I rely on my lead developer and am very thankful for him, but the pickleball industry is moving quickly and every single day we are working on our product and marketing strategies.

Q. Best advice you ever received?

A. Focus on what you can control and do you best, that is all you can do!

Q. What has Pickleball taught you?

A. Pickleball is an amazing sport that brings people of all ages, stages, backgrounds, and communities together. I am so thankful that we started playing a few years ago, and I am so thankful that we decided to make a change in the industry and create a free resource for all players! Pickleball has taught me so much from healthy exercise habits, to creating friendships with some I would normally had never met, to never giving up when things get tough, and it has taught me that it is worth pursuing your dreams and helping make people’s lives better even if only through a little app.

pickleball courts
Photo Credit: PicklePlay Instagram




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