Darnell Jones is an entrepreneur & investor, athlete and sales professional. He founded his first company in May 2012. In November of 2013, he became CEO and Founder of his next business venture, POWERHANDZ Inc., an athletic training sporting goods provider of performance enhancing multi-sport training products. He developed these products based on training techniques used throughout his basketball career and as a skills trainer for several elite athletes, over the last five years. I had the privilege of speaking with Darnell about POWERHANDZ, here’s what I learned:
Jay: Darnell, you’re the CEO of POWERHANDZ, and one of your products is a pair of anti grip weighted gloves that are extremely slippery which makes it very difficult to grip a basketball or football. Tell me a little more about the idea behind this product.
Darnell: That’s exactly right Jay. POWERHANDZ Inc. manufactures and distributes athletic training products used to improve skill development. Our lines of weighted gloves were designed to both strengthen hand and arm muscles and intensify players’ dexterity. At this point we have 3 products in our portfolio: a weighted Anti-Grip Glove (Football & Basketball), a weighted Pure-Grip Glove (Baseball, Golf, Boxing/MMA and Lifestyle) and a removable Anti-Grip Basketball Wrap. The idea behind the Anti Grip Basketball wrap uses a slippery fabric used to make it more difficult to catch and maintain control of a Basketball. The gloves contain up to 2 LB in weight for each pair based on size. This way when you practice dribbling for example, you’re forced and focus lot harder to develop great ball handling skills.
Jay: Sounds really challenging. How did you come up with such an idea?
Darnell: Growing up I wasn’t the most athletic kid, so I was constantly working on ways to improve my skills be it shooting and dribbling. One of my favorite players was a guy by the name of Jason “White Chocolate” Williams. In my opinion, he is one of the greatest ball handlers of all time. I once read that when working on his ball handling he would use gardening or winter gloves to make the ball more slippery. So the next time I went to practice I put on a pair. It’s unbelievable how much more difficult it becomes. Then I got used to that and to make it more challenging I started putting wrist weights on to make it even more difficult for myself. After taking off the gloves and wrist weights, I noticed an immediate improvement and long term the results were quite obvious to myself as well as others. It’s all about practice, and while practice may not make perfect, it definitely makes better.
Jay: Sounds like an amazing product but a tough sell especially to today’s athletes, when everyone wants products that make things easier, faster etc. POWERHANDZ is designed to make it a whole lot harder. Were you able to get people to buy in?
Darnell: Yes, it’s been very humbling, but in less than two years we’ve sold several thousands of our products to athletes in more than 55 countries. We’ve also attracted many organic non-paid advertisements from some of the most well known athletes in the world including Jimmy Butler, Paul George, David Ortiz, etc.
Jay: That’s incredible, I’m shocked. How were you able to convince these elite athletes to endorse POWERHANDZ? What’s your secret?
Darnell: Sorry Jay, but unfortunately I can’t say that I have a special secret. I just believe that by having a quality product that provides results athletes and celebrities are more apt to organically endorse and support the brand. None of the current POWERHANDZ brand ambassadors were asked to come onboard by me or my team. These were all athletes that used our products and saw value in them.
Jay I’m not understanding this. You’ve got the biggest names in sports using your products, and you didn’t ask any of them to endorse POWERHANDZ?
Darnell: Exactly. And that’s exactly how we want it. In fact, before we sold the product, I had about 500 samples made, and I had them sent out to players, coaches, trainers and I said “please give me only negative feedback.” I didn’t want any positive feedback. I knew the product was great, but I wanted these professionals to confirm what I thought and I wanted to make it even better if possible. The only way to do that is to have the best in the business give you their honest negative feedback.
Jay: How did that turn out?
Darnell: What happened after that was incredible. There are many people who are athletic, and there are many people who are great at sports, but the ones who become All-Stars are the ones who are never satisfied with how well they play, and constantly look for ways to get better. While so many products today are advertised to make your life easier, or do things quicker, POWERHANDZ makes it harder, but that’s exactly why it has been so successful. David Ortiz for example, started using it and fell in love with it. His team actually contacted us, and instead of giving negative feedback, they approached us about officially endorsing the product.
Jay: That must be a dream come true.
Darnell: Not only was it a dream come true, it was so humbling, and at the same time proof that we were on the right track. Sports are so much more competitive than what meets the eye. Hours and months of practice is not enough. You need to constantly find ways to give yourself an edge. POWERHANDZ products give players the opportunity to elevate their game to a totally new level.
Jay: So moving forward, what will your next marketing strategy be? Are you looking to get the products into the hands of the elite athletes and have them endorse the product by telling everyone how well it works?
Darnell: Actually we’ve taken a completely different approach. We don’t just want to fill our roster full of endorsers for our products.
Jay: Why not? If you have well respected and admired athletes using POWERHANDZ, wouldn’t you want them to tell people about it?
Darnell: Of course we want people to hear about our product, and especially to hear about it from these great athletes. But we thrive on organic marketing.
Check out this picture of Jimmy Butler. While he’s drinking water during a great workout, take a closer look and see what is sitting next to him on the bench. POWERHANDZ GLOVES! We didn’t ask him to do that for us, he wasn’t even trying to endorse the gloves. It was a candid picture someone took and sent to us, but as they say “a picture is worth a thousand words”. When we see athletes using POWERHANDZ to perfect their game that is the best form of organic advertising possible.
Jay: That’s pretty powerful. I see what you’re saying. How have the sales been going?
Darnell: In less than two years, POWERHANDZ has been used by athletes in more than 55 countries and with professional sports organizations, including the NBA, NFL, MLB, WNBA and the PGA .
Jay: That’s tremendous. I would assume you consider that a success. Correct?
Darnell: The number of sales is certainly a good sign, but the real sign of success is the number of people who use your product and like it well enough to tell someone. Another really good sign is the amount of returns. From all the products we’ve sold, I would say we don’t have any more than 25 returns! Many companies push products and are able to advertise a terrific amount of sales. But they don’t tell you how many returns they get. To me that’s the real test. I want athletes all over the world not just to buy the product, but to fall in love with it, and see how it can really elevate their game. The greatest satisfaction is seeing athletes recognize the integrity of our product, and the proof positive is that once it leaves our shelves, they’ll never send it back!
Darnell Jones is founder and CEO of POWERHANDZ. In addition to his role as CEO with POWERHANDZ Inc., Darnell serves on the Board of Directors for the Power To Give Foundation, which launched in July of 2014. Its mission is to build legacies of service that increase a commitment in athletic excellence. Darnell earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Health with an emphasis in Management at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, Colorado. He currently resides in Dallas, Texas with his wife, Danyel Surrency Jones and their daughter, Hartley Rose.