At Nordens, we work with a cross-variety of businesses across all kinds of sectors and industries. Unlike most accountants, we like to spread our expertise across the board and no business or sector is outside of our remit.
One of our clients is Toby Bawden, who is an integral figure within the burgeoning sport of padel. Padel is a racket sport and is usually played in doubles within an enclosed court that is roughly a quarter smaller than the size of a standard tennis court. Scoring is the same as you’ll find in tennis, whilst the balls used are largely similar but with a little less pressure.
We spoke to Toby on his history within the sporting industry, his role in owning three separate businesses in the sport, and how Nordens have helped his scalability and growth…
Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself and your businesses?
My name is Toby Bawden, I’m 31 and I have been working in sports my whole life really. I started coaching and helping out at my local tennis club when I was 14, always knowing that I wanted to go into sports business. I studied Sports Science at university and even had a little coaching business running at the side.
About 7 years ago a friend of mine got me into padel and we started up a business, managing and then eventually owning a club in Essex. During that time, we gained the distribution rights to a big Spanish padel brand called Drop Shot. My friend and I then parted ways about 3 years ago. You know what they say, don’t ever mix business and pleasure! I think there are many experiences of it going well, but it certainly didn’t work in my world.
So, I moved to London ad focused heavily on the equipment and distribution side of Drop Shot, which led to me setting up Drop Shot (UK) Limited and pursued this alongside my day-to-day coaching of the sport. Nowadays, I have 3 business in padel: Hexa Padel, Drop Shot (UK) and Padel Corner, which are all centred around the equipment side of things. I also get involved with the coaching side through The Padel School. It’s been a journey!
The sport of Padel is growing at a phenomenal rate, symbolised by worldwide names such as Jurgen Klopp and Patrick Viera showing a huge interest and participation in the sport. What are the next steps for Padel?
Essentially if you look at the sport globally and particularly over the past 7 years which I’ve been a part of, it’s grown exponentially. In the UK we were at about 45 courts and now we are up to 145, likely to be pushed to 200 by the end of the year. So, growth has been slow when compared to places like UAE and the Middle East, but the real growth has been in the Nordic nations. 5 years ago in Denmark, there weren’t really any courts and now there are over 1000, whilst Sweden possesses over 2000. It really is rapidly growing and even in some of the huge nations now with the US, Canada and Australia looking to get into the sport too.
The sport is only going up and up, and I think within the next 10 years it will become part of the Olympics sport, with it being played in so many nations worldwide. As you can see, from professional footballers, ex-rugby players and cricketers playing it, as well as the fact there is a solid pathway from junior to professional level, it really has such huge potential.
How difficult is it having an umbrella of businesses running simultaneously which are all connected?
It’s tough but I would say it suits my mindset. I’ve always been somebody who likes to do different things. When I was just a tennis coach or just a padel coach I would typically get bored because I was always thinking about the next opportunity. Presently, it’s nice that day-to-day there’s a good mix. It’s a huge benefit that all of my businesses feed into each other, so I can speak to a club about coaching and it may lead into something about equipment or even building courts.
Although there are multiple business which can be a challenge in terms of managing their success in terms of the logistics and operational facet of the businesses, they are all connected and what I love is that every day offers something different.
What is a typical working day for you?
This can be so changeable and varied. For example, sitting here writing this I am spending most of my day by the laptop at a shared working space in London and it’s heavy admin such as talking to equipment suppliers, liaising with clubs, taking on new staff members, ensuring orders are going out, tracking all of the finances and dealing with the shipping delays. Compare that to last week, I was in Lanzarote training a team of padel coaches and spent most of my week on court delivering training or doing demo days to showcase our equipment.
So no day is the same, everything is different, and everything is a new opportunity. However, what I would say is because padel is such a new and exciting sport there is so much energy and goodwill around, meaning every day is a good day.
How have Nordens helped you and your businesses develop and grow through the years?
Firstly, I started with Nordens when the pandemic hit as my old accountant went completely AWOL, so I got in touch with Nordens through the chairman of the firm, Mark (who loves a game of padel, hence why we know each other). It honestly has been the best thing that I have done for my business, just because everything they have given me in terms of the hands-on support every step of the way.
From helping with the bookkeeping, to having super detailed reports each month so I can look and find out where the money is going, and which area of the business is bringing in what. As well as this, we have monthly accountability calls where we analyse that my business is on track to hit its goals. Due to having multiple businesses, it’s easy to get distracted and also go down a route that may not be right, which Nordens detracts me from doing.
My accountant Zac is unbelievable, he is always at the end of the phone or a WhatsApp, no matter how big or small my question is. Numbers are not really my strength, and Nordens have the ability to explain everything to me in a way that I understand. This enables me to go out and play to my strengths of going out and talking to people, safe in the knowledge that everything financially is taken care of.
Having run several businesses in the past and working with different accountant, Nordens really are exceptional. My business has gone from strength to strength since joining and I have been able to really scale up and expand into the growing padel market, and for that I am super grateful.
We hope this has outlined to you the growing demand for the sport of Padel, and how no matter what your industry may be Nordens will always help you grow. If you require any more information on achieving growth, or anything accounting related for that matter, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us at Nordens where one of our trusted advisors would be happy talking you through your query.