DMG Ventures announces investment in €1Mteam padel tournament

DMG Ventures announces investment in €1M team padel tournament Hexagon Cup launched by the founders behind Formula E – with a view to becoming the fast-growing sport’s Laver Cup

  • Tournament will host inaugural event between January 31 and February 4 2024
  • A number of top 20 world-ranked players are set to take part in the contest 
  • CEO committed due to ‘unique’ start-up model and growth potential in sector

DMG Ventures has announced its investment in team padel tennis tournament Hexagon Cup, a competition launched by the founders behind Formula E, Extreme E, and E1. 

The tournament, which has a €1million (£860,000) prize fund, was created with the aim of helping the racket sport reach its global potential, and is set to attract international audiences when it plays its inaugural event in January 2024. 

Sitting outside of the padel tour’s calendar, Hexagon Cup will be contested by six franchise teams, each with three playing pairs made up of the top men’s, women’s, and next-gen players, owned by world-renowned celebrities. 

The racket sport is often described as a mixture of tennis and squash, and played between doubles pairs, usually in a glass-walled court a third of the size as a lawn tennis court. 

It has attracted a legion of famous fans that have helped boost its international profile, including David Beckham, Andy Murray, Cristiano Ronaldo, and a raft of Formula One drivers – with Red Bull team-principal Christian Horner sharing that three-time world champion Max Verstappen had blown off steam after his disappointing finish at the Singapore Grand Prix by beating his engineer at padel. 

The venture captial arm of the Daily Mail has invested in the rapidly-growing padel market

Hexagon Cup will sit outside the padel tour calendar and aims to create the atmosphere in the sport similar to team competitions like Laver Cup and the Ryder Cup

The team behind Hexagon Cup have an impeccable sports-hospitality pedigree, having previously launched Formula E, Extreme E, and E1

First invented in Mexico in 1969, the sport has also a devoted following in Iberican and Latin American countries – in Spain, the number of padel courts has shot up rapidly to the point where they outnumber tennis courts. 

In England, the Lawn Tennis Association estimated that the over 200 padel courts nationwide are expected to double in number in 2023 alone. 

But as the sport becomes increasingly accessible for the estimated 25 million players worldwide, DMG Ventures – who have previously invested in consumer-centric ventures including online car seller Cazoo and home valuation site Zoopla, as well as the F1 Arcade franchise – were interested in an area of the sport with just a small percentage of the padel market’s size, but the opportunity for prodigious growth. 

Manuel Lopo de Carvalho called the decision to invest £1mn in Hexagon Cup a ‘very good opportunity’ to get involved in a sport worth an estimated €2bn (£1.7bn) worldwide. 

The company first looked into investing in either court-building or court booking technology, but found a crowded market. 

‘We met an amazing team – and they are all padel crazy – and essentially they were had this view that we were missing an exhibition or tournament before the official season starts which is a bit more fun, more relaxed, more about celebrities, more about entertainment, and (includes) amazing hospitality and amazing things for the fans,’ Lopo de Carvahlo shared. 

World No 4 Alejandra Salazar is one of a number of top players that will be involved in the competition’s draft in November

‘They got a good slot before the official season starts, all the top 20 players in the world – and once you have the best players, once you have a good place, it’s all about finding sponsors and that’s something that the group are very good at.’

Noting that the sport turns players who discover it at any playing level ‘evangelists’, and believes that this can translate into spectator interest and streaming viewership with the opportunity to watch those at the top of the sport play competitive padel in an exciting format, with Lopo de Carvalho comparing the offering to tennis’ Laver Cup competition. 

‘It’s super entertaining to watch,’ he added. ‘The points are very disputed, and if you’ve played, you know how amazing it is, what they’re doing, so you can appreciate it a lot more. 

‘That’s the sort of dynamic that we hope will be picked up.’ 

The draw of working with the founders of Formula E is centred in the group’s eyecatching approach to drawing interest and sponsorship to grow the sport, which broke its cumulative audience record for the eighth season of the competition with a 20 per cent year-on-year increase to 318m at the end of 2022. 

Whilst the celebrity team owners are yet to be announced, the group’s E1 boat racing world championships announced Tom Brady, Sergio Perez, Rafael Nadal, and Didier Drogba as team owners for next year’s inaugural season in July 2023. 

The ‘good show’ that Hexagon Cup will aim to put on for those to attend at the Madrid Arena in 2024 – complete with playable padel courts and hospitality venue – will boost the inaugural event’s appeal, whilst the organisers are in negotiations with broadcasters over how the event will be streamed to a global audience. 

The event will take place at the Spanish capital’s Madrid Arena between January 31 and February 4 2024

The recruitment of top ranked players to feature has also been a priority, with world No 8 Francisco Navarro and world No 4 Alejandra Salazar already signed up to compete, enticed by the unique offering. 

‘(The players I’ve spoken too) their point was very much, “it’s fantastic. (Before the tour starts) we’re ready to go, and we always end up playing with the same partners. This event will see them play with different partners, and create different mixes,’ Lopo de Carvalho shared. 

‘It’s good to see the buzz reaching the players as well.’ 

As the event grows year-on-year, future plans will focus on satellite competitions internationally that can act as feeder tournaments for its flagship.  

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