Dave Vanslette joins Mike Hendrix on The Tech Caddie podcast
Episode 5

Dave Vanslette joins Mike Hendrix on The Tech Caddie podcast

Dave Vanslette, Founder and CEO from FAIRWAYiQ discusses the evolution of the company and its focus on data and automation in the golf industry. They have developed hardware sensors and software solutions to optimize golf course operations and enhance the player experience. They are focused on reducing friction and improving efficiency in the golf industry through AI and automation. The company has a strong customer support system and aims to provide value to golf courses of all types

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Dave Vanslette

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51min

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Description:

Dave Vanslette, Founder and CEO from FAIRWAYiQ discusses the evolution of the company and its focus on data and automation in the golf industry. They have developed hardware sensors and software solutions to optimize golf course operations and enhance the player experience. FAIRWAYiQ offers a range of products, including a handheld device, an under the seat model, a screen in the golf cart, and a pending mobile application. They are focused on reducing friction and improving efficiency in the golf industry through AI and automation. The company has a strong customer support system and aims to provide value to golf courses of all types. In this conversation, Mike and Dave discuss the importance of customer experience, the use of technology in golf course management, marketing strategies, and the future of the industry.

Takeaways

  • Data and automation are transforming the golf industry, particularly in managing equipment and optimizing operations.
  • FAIRWAYiQ offers hardware sensors and software solutions to track equipment, improve pace of play, and enhance the player experience.
  • Their products include a handheld device, a screen in the golf cart, and an under the seat model.
  • FAIRWAYiQ focuses on reducing friction and improving efficiency in the golf industry through AI and automation. Customer experience is crucial in the success of a golf course.
  • Utilizing technology can greatly improve golf course management.
  • The golf course industry is evolving, and managers need to adapt to changes.

As Promised:

No additional promised items from this episode such as link to xyz or contact information. However, click here to visit the FAIRWAYiQ website. Thanks for listening!

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Dave Vanslette joins Mike Hendrix on The Tech Caddie podcast

Dave Vanslette, Founder and CEO from FAIRWAYiQ discusses the evolution of the company and its focus on data and automation in the golf industry. They have developed hardware sensors and software solutions to optimize golf course operations and enhance the player experience. They are focused on reducing friction and improving efficiency in the golf industry through AI and automation. The company has a strong customer support system and aims to provide value to golf courses of all types

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Transcript:

Okay, well, welcome everybody to the Tech Caddie. Today we have Van Vanslette from FAIRWAYiQ. And I've actually interacted with this company a little bit over the years. And so I'm somewhat familiar, but happy to share more of the story of FAIRWAYiQ with everybody here on the podcast. So welcome, Dave, to the Tech Caddie. Thanks, Mike. Happy to be here. That's great. That's great. So Dave, before we get...

too deep into the weeds here. Just help everybody understand where you are today. I think you're from the Northeast, but where you are today, how this thing got started, and then we'll kind of get into the weeds, so to speak. Sure. Yeah. So I live up in the Massachusetts, greater Boston area, where I used to brag about the Patriots, but can't do that anymore.

And I'm sure you would agree, you're probably an outlier, but I'm sure you would agree that America's team is really the Yankees and really the Yankees are the definition of professional baseball. I'm sure you'd be on board with that. As a, as a long time Mets fan, no, not so much. I just dislike the Yankees, but, but we, we, my, my wife and I were born and raised in New York, Mets, Jets, you know, that was our, our kind of sports teams that we inherited.

And then moving up here, a lot of people were shocked to see that I followed the Patriots as well, but when in Rome. So I was brought up here because I've been in the tech industry for a very long time. And prior to this starting FAIRWAYiQ almost 10 years ago, I was a part owner of a digital agency that was acquired in 2012. And I was traveling pretty

pretty regularly up to the Boston area. We pretty much lived in a hotel. And then we were asked to integrate another agency within the acquirers agency portfolio. And I moved up here to head up that integration, fell in love with the area, brought my family up here, and then became really sort of attracted to the smaller world of business again, where things weren't at

quite as big as a multinational top three advertising agency portfolio company. So I took some capital that I had been fortunate enough to get through the sale of the agency. And I started investing in startups here. I started by belonging to a couple of the funds up here. I became a limited.

partner and I really started to embed myself into the startup ecosystem to number one, invest, number two, meet people and then find out where the smart capital was going. And I became enamored with the still very, very, very relevant concept that data and automation is going to change the world.

And particularly in how equipment, people in big open spaces are managed. And so that's called the, in the tech vernacular, the internet of things space. The IOT. Yes. IOT space. It was so, so hot. We don't hear IOT quite as much today, but there's certainly, there was a...

There was a moment there. Are you a golfer too? Is that how these two things kind of came together? So yeah, so the other confluence of events was I belonged to a private club up here and started talking to a bunch of buddies. My wife gave me about six months to find something that I was going to do after I left my other company or she was going to divorce me. And so I talked to a bunch of buddies who said, hey, pace of play in golf is a big problem.

And so I, at that point, that was my, I think in, it's about 10 years ago. So it must've been like 2014. My first trip to the PGA show was in 2014 and started to do some research. And, um, and then we started the company in And so you're just back from the PGA show, uh, for, for in 2024. What'd you think? Uh, so actually we, we did not attend the PGA show. Were you at the show before that?

You're in at the show, yeah. So here's a really interesting point of view. And I know that not everyone shares this point of view. But Dolph tends to be about 10 years, I think, in my estimation, but a decade behind other industries as it relates to technology. And that actually translates also to things like this, web meetings. And so pre -COVID, the show had a

very good monopoly on that was where you were going to meet future customers unless you were, you know, door to door kind of visiting properties. And since then, what we do is we have we really have we've got an inside team that talks to customers on a regular basis and prospects. And we hardly ever visit post COVID properties unless we're asked.

Got it. Yeah. It's, it's a, so a ton of people have moved to that. And, and I actually think even still today, even though the 2024 PGA show got a lot of great reviews, I still think there were some apparel people that did not attend. It's certainly way back in the day, this is where everybody kind of wrote their orders for the year, especially the apparel people and some of the club manufacturers. But that, that, that certainly has changed. So.

And Mike, I think for certain segments of the industry, it makes a lot of sense depending upon the immediate value of purchase, right? So apparel, equipment, et cetera. That's the only place you're really going to get the broadest view of everything there. For tech companies, we, as in tech companies as a group, have attended and will continue to attend. But I think the value is slightly different for companies like us. And so what we decided to do this year,

and we did it frankly last year too, was we took the amount of money that we were gonna spend, which is not insignificant on the show, and we invested it in new products. We wanna give that back to customers directly. Well, that's a great move. And I think we've seen others do it. So hopefully that works out for you guys. Speaking of tech, tell us if you can in a little more detail,

My understanding is we're talking about sensors and those kinds of things, but tell us in a little more detail about exactly what you guys did build at FAIRWAYiQ. Not so much like, hey, what's the product, but like, what did you actually build so that the product could be the product? Yeah, no, that's a great question. So for the first time in my career, I'm in the hardware business.

I've always been somewhat in the software business. I was a long time developer. I often threaten my team these days that I will someday come back and start doing development. Nobody wants that. But I love building software and developing amazing experiences that people really just are a joy to use. They love using them. But here we've got a hardware component. Now, when we first started the business,

on 2015, there were very few sensors and let me define sensor. So for me, a sensor for us at least is a piece of it's a computer board that has a bunch of chips on it. And its main function in our case is to get location of where that piece of equipment cart caddie Walker is. Okay. And so what we looked at was we said, well,

what's out on the market today. And at that time, much to our surprise, there was not much out there that did exactly what we needed to do and did it at a reasonable cost from a cellular standpoint. Cellular plants at the time were egregiously priced. It was effectively $10 a month for the cellular plants. So we went down and we actually designed, manufactured our

own sensors for the first, say, seven years of FAIRWAYiQ's existence. And that was a ride because not only are you in the software business, which is hard enough to be in, in any industry, but now you're also developing hardware products and that just adds to the complexity. And I would assume even...

taxes you on the team that you build, right? All of a sudden you need some experts that you're probably not familiar with in the past. And I don't know if you ultimately outsource that or if that was in -house, but yeah, I would think that that would have an effect on a lot of different things actually as I think through it. Yeah. And I think, you know, another interesting topic to talk about is how the world has changed relative to...

employment and working with companies. So, you know, back in the old days, the only way to do it was hire W -2 employees, right? But the younger generations often want to be individual contributors and do it on their own time and at the rates that they want to charge. And they're extremely talented. So what we found is we found these kind of hybrid people who didn't want to work for a full time company.

but didn't want to work for a big company. And I knew them through my network of tech folks. And I've got people all over the world relative to hardware, firmware, which is the software that lives on the hardware, and then software. We'll talk a little bit about that, I'm sure. But we've got three different pieces of hardware. So we've got what I'll call a basic sensor that goes under the

the seat in the golf cart tells us the location of where the cart is. It can indicate to the player when they're in an area they shouldn't be with a loud annoying beep until they get out. So that's number one. And, and, and, and, and, and assumably Dave, and so do the golf cart companies as well. Right. I would assume in that environment, that's who you're competing with primarily is you're saying, Hey, there's a reason to

to bring me on as an add -on rather than just go straight with XYZ's version of this. Oh, yeah, yeah. So this is the simple part. OK. You know, the hardware really enables everything else. It's kind of the foundation. And it's not a differentiator in any way. In fact, this is exactly why when COVID came, which changed, as we know, the golf industry in a very positively meaningful way.

It also changed supply chains around the world. And what we were challenged with was, hey, do we really need to still continue to manufacture our own hardware sensors? And at that point, it became apparent that there were many other choices available at a much more price value ratio. So we ended up now, we source hardware through some of the large telematics companies here in North America.

Okay, very good. So that's one piece of your hardware. I think there's two others. So let's let's get into that bit if you can. So the other two are and this is and I will talk about the cart companies and how we differentiate there as well because that's a big, big competitive set for us. Sure. So the cart companies have always had screens in the golf carts. And that's their their main offer. Several of them have gone out and

purchased companies like ours that were started a decade or more ago and have been in the industry for a very long time, like GPSI was purchased by Club Car and became Visage and now is Club Car Connect. I often joke with customers though and I say, hey, you know, our engineers are really, really smart folks and we could build you a golf car. You probably shouldn't buy the golf car that we built. And so,

We are experts. This is all we think about day in and day out is how to optimize the golf operation and deliver a rock star experience for the player on the golf car and on mobile. We've been able to outpace at least the pun intended outpace at least the golf car companies because this is all we think about. Right. You don't think about tires.

Right? You don't think about drive trains or what that right. You're focused on this. So I certainly appreciate that. Yep. So the other thing that the golf cart companies cannot offer, and this was a big gap and this was the insight that I had prior to starting FAIRWAYiQ was that you can, you know, a lot of golf courses have walkers too, depending apart upon where you are in the country. It can be more than 50%. If you think about California,

you've got more than 50 % of the rounds are walking rounds. And therefore you cannot manage the golf course if you don't have visibility into those walkers. So we created a handheld device that has morphed into a dedicated mobile application. And what it does is everything that you see in consumer apps today, right? Distances, food and beverage ordering,

integration into Golf Genius, everything that you'd see on a screen in the golf car, we've miniaturized it onto a dedicated mobile phone application. Now, the reason we do that is because you've got to give people the reason to download an app. The last thing we need is another app in the world. We're giving ours away for free where other companies are charging $49 a year for that app. We give it away for free because they're so

an implicit trade of value between the player and the facility. Right. You can track my location. You give me a bunch of value as if I'm riding in a golf car. And is the app branded as the golf course app or it's a standalone app? No. Meaning a FAIRWAYiQ branded app. The intention is that it will be branded also by the golf course. Okay. Okay.

So that's number two. The third, what I'll call hardware device really, is the screen that lives in the golf car. And that's the tablet experience. Now, a funny side note on this, Mike, for I'd say three quarters of the time that I've been running FAIRWAYiQ, I resisted the idea of a screen in the golf car because I said to myself,

Wow, why do we need another screen in our life? And it's expensive. Everyone's got a screen in their pocket. What I realized that was wrong on is I should never argue with customer requirements. Customers want it because golf is not necessarily the most mobile friendly sport. A lot of people like to leave their phone in their bag or in their car. They're required to do that at some point. Or honestly, Dave, a lot of people like to play golf to get away from their phone.

Right. And there is there certainly is a contingent like that. I think I'm part of that contingent. So I understand that. Yeah. So we said to ourselves, well, you know, there's a reason still to have that screen. And and we deliver that as well. And so the screen, I think, is is what brought us together, because I saw your press release about this check in technology before we get into that. I do think that that's interesting.

Well, I want to back up to COVID. I do want to salute you. I know that you really played a key role in trying to raise some funds for people that weren't working early on in COVID because actually early, early COVID, it hurt golf, right? There were a lot of states and cities that didn't let golf happen. And I know that you actually played a role in helping to raise some dollars for superintendents and people on the crews of superintendents. And so, and I think you worked with Golfdom on that.

So just wanted to tip my cap to you, because I thought that that was really great. That does lead me to a question. I'm still trying to figure out is the main client for FAIRWAYiQ, not the golfer. We'll set the golfer aside for a second. Is the main client on the agronomy side or in the golf shop side of this business? I am curious to get your take on that. Yeah. So the main client currently,

is on the golf operation side of the business. The maintenance superintendents, we started, I think for about two or three years, starting in, I think, 2016, I did a lot of customer development work, trying to understand requirements from customers. And I realized that at that time, this was my thesis, Mike. Looking at the market, you asked about the golf cart companies. Don't they do what we do?

And I said, wow, this is a crowded market, right? Why would we want to go up against, you know, all these different competitors on the golf operation side? Maybe that's our secondary business and our primary business is tracking maintenance equipment, staff and tasks. And there was nobody in that space. So for a few years, we spent that that was our primary focus, delivering solutions to superintendents and.

That's at launch. You launched with that approach, is that correct? We launched with both pace of play on the Walker side and maintenance tracking for equipment and stuff. Okay, but then you spent some amount of time maybe with more focus on the maintenance. You thought that maybe that was ultimately the... Yeah, and what I realized again, I'm very introspective and willing to always admit where I've made mistakes because I think it's instructive to other people. What I hate reading...

business book where you see you read about Jack Welsh and he writes about everything that went right. Yeah. It's like that's that's great. We know you're Jack Welsh. We really need the stuff that went wrong. Right. I mean, that's like the people that, you know, people say I have no regrets. I'm in a different. I have regrets. I think if you don't have regrets, you don't think very much, you know. So, yeah, I hear where you're coming from. So for me, you know, looking at that, you also in the startup space,

particularly in the beginning, you're trying to find what is known in industry vernacular as the product market fit. Sure. And so you look for problems to solve with a specific target customer profile. We were looking at superintendents. The competitive space was wide open. And we did talk to superintendents who said, hey, this is interesting. I always don't want to know where my guys are.

And I need to know what they're doing. Are they standing still, you know, wasting time? Or are they efficient at their tasks? And what we realized was that that solution that we built is ahead of the market. It did not have product market fit. So that has taken a backseat to what we see in the golf operation space. And this is the instructive part where we looked at a very competitive industry or

very competitive space on the golf operation side with a lot of known competitors, big brands. We have built for the last eight years, the company's almost 10 years old now, golf operation software, where now we compete on feet. I mean, the features are the easy part. All the, all the foundational work that we've worked on for the past eight years is in place. And the things that we'll talk about on the screen are

easy to deliver and aren't being delivered by anyone in the industry right now. I'm sure people listening to this and our competitors will eventually decide to take up some of those, but I'm happy to give back to the industry. And as long as we're ahead in the beginning, then we're going to be able to deliver as much value as possible. That's great. And so, you know, this podcast emanates from another brand, if you will, called Golf Course Technology Reviews.

And in that ecosystem, we separate people into different categories and then different products, et cetera. And when I say people, I really should say companies. One of the products is apps, right? I mean, in the thinking apps for golf courses, should FAIRWAYiQ actually also be a vendor in that product list? Is that, am I thinking about it the right way? You are, but we're a little ahead. Okay. Right now we're still,

laser focused on the golf operation as our primary customer. But you, but this app is, is coming and maybe part of, of this golfer check -in experience. Maybe that's the part that I maybe thought that golfer check -in experience was the next thing, but maybe that brings along some other things with it. Is that the way I should think about it? It does actually, because down the road, what, what we ultimately think is the right way to pressure, um,

you know, the industry. So any industry has sort of this change curve, right? And so you think about a sort of a normal distribution curve. And it's talked about the early adopters in the beginning, okay, we're past early adoption, people know how to put screens and golf carts, okay. But that's not the value here, right? The value is using AI to optimize the operation and deliver a much better player experience.

Okay.

that the player has come to expect in adjacent industries. So for example, we have been checking in to airlines, you know, the flight we're gonna take tomorrow to see grandma, right? For well over a decade, right? You can now walk into a hotel, pull the mobile phone up, you know, your Hilton app and check into your room, right?

You can check into your room from the airplane, Dave, if you want, right? I mean, you don't need to be in the lobby of the hotel to check in. So, yeah. No. And then, yeah, what I meant to say was then you basically have your key on your phone. You walk up to the door, you press a button and you're in. Right. Exactly. So these are the friction points that need to be solved in golf. OK. OK. So so so let me let me tee this up a little bit, because we we did start to talk about this screen in the golf car.

And if you want to, if you want to wrap that up a little bit before we get into this golfer checking thing, we can, but clearly I think part of your story is you began to listen more to the golfer or maybe more to the general manager or whomever. And you decided putting a screen in the golf car was okay. You, you ultimately thought that that was the right move. Yes, that that's exactly right. Because our primary customer, the golf course operator is asking for it. But the point that I'll just wrap up here is you asked about the player component of our business.

That is burgeoning. That is to come. Okay. And I'll tell you what the, the NGF just came out with their annual report. The most encouraging part of that annual report is for the first time ever. 18 to 34 year olds are the largest segment over 25 % of green grass golfers with a latent demand of much of double that, meaning there are people playing non green grass, ready to play.

Well, that's right. You know what that you know what that segment wants? And this is where I'm going to get to around change in the industry. It's hard for any industry to change. Golf courses have been operating the same way for a very long time on feel and not necessarily data and technology. Right. So it takes a little bit to move them in a direction that's a change, make a change that's going to benefit the player. Well, guess what? If the player drives that change.

they're gonna be forced to change. Agreed, yes. They're gonna enjoy the results of that change. And so that's where that demographic comes in. And the player experience part of mobile is our next front. So I do think that this move is going to change your customer base, right? I do believe that FAIRWAYiQ is gonna become more relevant to more golf courses. And so that's a...

great thing for you. And I think that that's a huge part of why you probably do this. But the last step before we get into the meat here, tell me today about who your customer is. Is your customer a wide span of golf courses? I share with people sometimes I live, I physically live in an interesting place. I can walk to Ohio State and play Scarlet. So this is a great golf course, but certainly not a premiere.

a private club, although it is fairly private. I can also walk and play at Scioto where Bobby Jones won the US Open and the Stars and Stripes won the Ryder Cup and et cetera, et cetera. And I'm trying to figure out, and then of course there's what we call Club Raymond, which is the municipal course that we can't exactly walk to, but we can drive to in about five minutes. Raymond Memorial owned by the city of Columbus, Ohio. So.

I live in this really interesting spot with all these different types of golf courses. Today, does FAIRWAYiQ work for golf courses in all of those segments or not? Just tell us a little bit about that. Sure. Yeah. So we do work in all the segments and it's different product offerings. Okay. It's the same base, you know, software product.

but where it changes is what hardware is involved. Okay. So because we have a caddie friendly walking device, we have a lot of either pure walking courses, vineyard golf clubs, sanctity head, et cetera, right? We have clubs that have rich caddie programs on the weekends, mornings, right? And that combines with the cart, very unique.

There's not much out there that does what we do there. Okay, so that's, we do have private clubs and I'd say private clubs account for approximately 40 % of our business. Which index higher than the overall, you know, count of golf courses in general, right? Certainly not 40 % of golf courses are private. So you index higher on the private side, go on. And that's where we started Mike, because of

are of our heritage in the walking devices and that was the original differentiation. Over the last two years, we've started to see significant increase in the public sector. Okay. Now you can divide public in a number of Waze. I'm going to divide it munis and non -munis. Okay. I have a suspicion that municipal golf courses are maybe

one of the underserved categories in golf, because of the economics typically involved in these operations and the buying cycle tends to be long, you know, you've got to have the mayor sign, you know, a PO, right? So oftentimes, I think that it's viewed by other companies within golf as not worth the squeeze. And there's no price premium that can be had there. So you have to come out with a true value product. Well, we've got

So the price to value ratio on both our screen in the golf car and the basic tracker under the seat is able to be consumed by the municipal sector. And that is, we've had munis for a while, but over the last few years, it became very apparent that that should be more of a focus of ours than it is now. The other - Yeah. I would guess for a municipal, maybe for anybody, but for a municipal,

as it becomes harder and harder for them to find rangers, I'm thinking that maybe this is where you guys become more relevant and you're saying, well, we can solve that problem. Yeah, they're often dealing with very, very little staff and a budget that matches that. So we see about 30 % reduction in labor costs for rangering the golf course by...

not having somebody spend all this time driving around looking for issues that they may get wrong because the line of sight is not necessarily reality according to data. Instead, the AI and the automation that we've implemented effectively notifies people when they need to do something on the high priority list of items in priority order of what they should address first to optimize the operation. This is really valuable for a user.

Okay. Yes. It's also valuable for the standard, say even mid to high tier public golf course, but they've had technology for a while and have thought about this sort of stuff. So it's an easier, let's just say it's an easier sell to them because they know that already. Munis think everything's outside their price range and it's not. Understood. Okay.

So with that in mind, you already serve somewhat of a wide base, but you're looking to expand it. Let's talk about this screen in the golf car and what that ultimately means. And it really is an evolution, I think, of FAIRWAYiQ. So why don't we get into the weeds of that, so to speak? Yeah, sure. So I'll talk about the standard stuff that exists today, just to level set. OK? So.

Everyone's used to seeing on the screen whole flyover. Okay, easy. distances, easy. Okay, two way messaging back and forth between the clubhouse. Hey, there's a storm coming get off the golf course. You're behind pace of play, etc. Okay, all easy things to do. integration of food and beverage. No brainer. Even even transactional? Yes. Okay. Okay. Integration of

tournament software. So we're building now an integration with Golf Genius as the standard in the tournament space. But that's going to hang off our standard scoring mechanism. Okay. So, so let me all those things are relatively standard and you'd expect to see them and by the way, they're offered in the market today in some way. I'll tell you the differences and here are some things that I'm surprised haven't been delivered on. Okay.

So the one thing is that golf cart companies have universal keys. I don't know why that is, to be honest. I really have to get a little bit of history on that. I don't know if you have it, but it's just, I guess they thought it was easier than having to replace the single key if somebody loses it. And that decision was made a long time ago, but here's how it affects the operation. You and I go in, we check in, in the shop.

They hand us a key and they say, you guys are on cart number 16. We don't really pay attention. We go out, we grab any cart that's in front of us. Okay. Now we've signed a release already in the shop, but now all of a sudden later on in the day, they noticed that some one cart has wheels that are unaligned. There's some damage. Who was on that cart? Mike and Dave. Oh no, they did. They take a different cart. They don't know.

Right? So what we sort of said to ourselves, we already integrate with over a dozen tee sheet providers that are in the market, meaning we know the reservations. OK. But I was talking to a customer this morning who said their single biggest problem is you and I are going out, I sign up for our foursome and I say Dave Van Slett and three guests in the tee sheet They never know who the three guests are.

Yeah, this is the elusive golfer two, three and four. Of course. They want to know who those golfers are for a variety of reasons. Okay. So what we are now implementing is we have the ability to check into the golf cart. So I know what the foursome is. I could put the names up on the screen. Somebody checks the boxes. It's Mike and Dave. Boom. They know we're on the cart. If it says guest,

I've got to give them a reason to collect that information. Well, what's the value trade that I can do to allow, to force you or encourage you to enter your information as Mike? Well, okay, what we'll do is Mike, we're going to score for the round. All right. What's your handicap? We're going to play a game. Oh, great. Well, you get two strokes on the front and I get three on the back, whatever it is. And therefore in order to do that,

we're going to put our name in, or we're going to put our handicap in. So now I'm connected to maybe your GHIN Okay. Well, now I've got your GHIN number. I could post the score at the end of the round and the facility now knows who was on the golf car. We enable you to sign the release on the screen and we've taken friction out for you as the player on posting your score. Okay. There's a win -win across the board, but it gets better. Okay. One of the,

biggest losses of revenue is if you and I say, hey, we're going to play nine holes and it's four or five in the afternoon, wherever and summer. And we're out there and we say, wow, we've got a little bit more time. We just completed nine holes. Let's keep playing. Well, there's lost revenue in that, not only on the car rental, but on the greens fees. Well, our system knows how many plays, how many holes we've played.

Well, if we go past nine, the screen should disable and say, Hey, great. You guys want to play more golf? We're going to charge you by the hole. Right. Right. Right. Now we've captured additional revenue and we've given the golf course the ability to market to us. And I suppose Dave, if you work that backwards, that also makes it really easy just to sell five holes golf. It does. Right.

Uh, and which is something that we promote a lot in my consulting business that we believe there should, it should be easy to play five holes of golf in the morning off of the back. It's, it's essentially property that's not being utilized and it helps you compete with health clubs, et cetera, et cetera. There's a whole, there's a whole thing to that. But yeah, if, if you're going to help people play 12 holes of golf, that also means you can help people play four holes of golf. Uh, so that's, that's interesting for sure. Yeah. And you know, I, I'm, this is all I think about 24 seven. Uh, so.

You know, you think about Waze and how Waze gives us back roads from work to home. Waze - Google Maps for those people that aren't using Waze, but go on. Yes. Right. And so it tells you, you know, the the direction you should go to avoid traffic. Well, to your point about time, time is a huge component of why they're still laten demand amongst that 18 to 34. Frankly, every demographic, because people want to go to Topgolf or go to a

simulator and they want to sign up for an hour and a half and they know that they can get back to their kids soccer game on time. Right. And so Dave, this is interesting. So one, you do have these interfaces with key sheets. I did some research. It looked to me like you, you already interface with foreUP you interface with, with golf now and BC, uh, you interface with maybe with Lightspeed Am I right? Also, like, uh, and so that's really good. Um, and,

But maybe the interface wasn't built this way, but it could evolve. So does that mean you can push into the tee sheet You can push data into the tee sheet. We can, yes. Okay. So that that's excellent. Talk a little bit about what Allison George was talking about in our first podcast episode. Talk a little bit about actually, if you can enable someone to not go into the pro shop and check in for their round of golf right on your screen in the golf cart.

Yeah, yeah. So that effectively, if we can work with the tee sheet providers, right, to, as you say, write to their system, then all I'm doing is building an interface on the golf cart that would require, and this is back, I think, to your leading question earlier around the mobile application for the player, right, is we've got to have some kind of ability to recognize the player.

And that would likely be mobile app specific. So it's got you've got a Lightspeed app on here and you get up to the cart and through Bluetooth, it's going to send the information that automatically identifies who you are. Do you want to check in to this cart? And it'll take the payment information right from the app. Right. So card on file is what you're essentially banking on there, correct? Exactly.

Yeah. And if it's not, then we're going to double enable a tap to pay, which is the most secure way to go right now. Well, and I was going to ask you that can ultimately this, I mean, really, and I understand your whole point about kiosks earlier now you're talking, this is a kiosk in the golf cart. And so ultimately could the kiosk actually accept payment? Uh, it could accept, you know, Apple pay, you know, via Bluetooth or tap or whatever. Exactly. Yeah, no, this is great. This is, this is, this actually is.

change. Listen, I don't know everybody in this industry. I don't know about this yet, right? This is the first time I've actually heard of a truly functional kiosk in the golf car really solved some problems for the operator. It's interesting. In the release that you all put out, I believe you quoted March or May or something like that when this would become available. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Yeah, that's right. So we are releasing the check -in functionality that's driven by the tee sheet in May. In May. That's excellent. And we all know the golf doesn't really start till after the Masters. So I think you're in a good place. Can you... First of all, as a former sales guy in this industry, let me applaud you on putting a release date in print. It helps the seller, right? The seller can say,

Well, this will be available on X day there. I think there's too many companies in this space that tell their teams, they're going to build something. The team has no idea when it's going to really be available and it makes it hard to sell. That leads me to, so are there pre -sales? You know, is there a pipeline already and some deals are done and you know where you'll roll and I'm not going to ask you to tell me where you roll it out, but that's, that's the case. Yeah. Well, so first off, um,

I mean, we've been selling our screen solution. This is just an add -on to the screen itself. So the beauty of what we've done, I think that you'll enjoy this too as a salesperson, Mike, is that, again, one of my key operative words is friction. I use it a lot. So I want to take the friction out of most things, right? Including how people buy software, how they buy stuff for golf courses, technology for golf courses. So...

You know, we want to include, we don't want to have these tiers of products that, you know, say, oh, if you want this, if you want A plus B plus C, then it's this price or whatever. We have a single price that's driven by the type of hardware that you use. So is it the simple tracker that's under the seat plus handhelds or just handhelds alone for walkers and caddies, or is it the screen in the golf cart? Any product that we, any, any capability that we add to that screen,

Everyone gets it. That's nice. Yeah. And just out of curiosity, so I'm walking some golf course in California without a caddie. Is this clipped onto my arm strap or do you just put it in my pocket of the, like, where is this thing going? Yeah. So there is a case that goes, you know, the device goes into and essentially it's clipped to the bag.

What we don't see, Mike, is we don't see a lot of public golf courses using dedicated handheld trackers because they can leave the property. Right? Of course. So this is why it gets back to, again, the thing I'm hinting at around our player strategy is I've got to have a cheap, effective way. I don't want to put, in fact, I'd love to not have any hardware anywhere as an ultimate goal. Right? Right. Let Tim Cook take care of the hardware.

And yeah, I, right. Exactly. Right. Right. You know, go back to California for a second. And could you talked about how high walking indexes in California? I also think that's true in Chicago. But, but do you see that in your business? Do you index a little higher in California for your overall client base or, or do you not see that? No, actually we see less. Now I have, I have a team.

a member in California who talks to a lot of properties out there. And I think the trick here is that we can't track, our value is tracking everything that moves on the property. If we miss walkers because we can't give them a dedicated device, it's not a caddie only course or it's public and somebody's gonna leave the property, it's not gonna work. So we are more in private facilities.

in those kinds of demographics, the rest of the country, largely speaking, sees more cart rounds. It's more typical American. And those are pretty easy. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. And so when it comes to golfer check -in, or, and if you want to just do the screen in general, give me some product names. Like, what are we calling these things? What will people hear in the industry so they can go, oh,

That's that thing Dave was talking about. What are the names that we're using here? Yeah, that's it. You know, I don't have a fancy name for the screen itself. We actually, we just call it FAIRWAYiQ. The company name is the product. That mainly maps directly to the software. So we're always talking about FAIRWAYiQ and the device.

is just sort of the mechanism by which we gather the data and provide that experience. We will do better on coming out with some names that identify, but right now it's just more form over, or more function rather, over marketing, Mike. So right now that's what it is. But I will say this, we have a couple of features though. We talk about that check -in function as the smart check -in.

We talk about our play through functionality as smart playthroughs. So these are components that are available within the software and provide specific value. Okay. And talk a little bit about, I see that Mike Woods is a customer at Hagen Oaks and he's, he generally is, is on the, on the front side of these types of things. Talk a little bit about what your operator strategy has been. Do you have ambassadors?

that talk about your product. I'm just curious to know how you've kind of gotten the word out. Yeah, yeah. So one of the things that we've done right from the start is we've been very good at listening to customers. And I know that that sounds so basic and sort of like as easy as saying, you know, we need oxygen to live. But there are so many companies out there that do not spend a significant amount of time.

understanding, one, how customers are using their product today. And that's both through Q &A, but also we track all clicks on our website. We know exactly how you come in and use our product. We know if we deliver a new feature and you don't click on it, we're going to talk to you about that and explain it better. So we have a high level of interactivity with our customers. I've also differentiated the business. Very, very high customer success.

customer service levels, and that is not seen in this space. We invested right from the beginning in local support within time zones so people can get access to our team when they need it, but also our team is reaching out to try to help them proactively. So we've had a high level of engagement there right from the start with existing customers. This is a big word of mouth industry, as you know.

So we do get Mike and others and you know, who talk about us. We have a 90 % retention rate, sorry, 93 % retention rate. Only 7 % of our customers don't renew after they've been around for a while. So it's excellent. It's very high. It's kind of that Golf Genius model too, right? Golf Genius, I think a big part of their success is because of the support that they've been committed to from.

from day one. So, so that's, yeah, that's a great move. Listen, I thank you for your time. Cause you've carved out almost an hour for me here. Give me the, give me the, the elevator pitch, if you would, right? If somebody is listening. And one thing we didn't touch on, I do want to say out loud for the operator, there's a screen behind the counter.

Right. You're tracking all of this on a, on a screen. And so if people are wondering, well, how, you know, how do I know what pace of play is or whatever, we probably should have touched on the fact that there's a screen that that's given you all this information at any rate. We, you bump into somebody at, let's say you had gone to the show, you bump into somebody in the elevator and you introduce yourself. How do you, how do you sell your product? How do you position it? Why does somebody ultimately buy it? Yep.

So we use AI and automation to optimize the golf operation. And if you see on our website, we substitute optimize the golf operation for a few different key areas to drive the 4 hour round. We believe, and we've got a lot of research in the space on pace of play, pace can be under four hours.

In fact, the first round of the day is often the predictor. Some properties will never play in that, but because of the layout or whatever. But most properties can play under four hours. And that first block of times is the benchmark. Everything after that, if you and I go out in the morning and we play in 345, everything beyond that, Mike, is wait time on the golf course. You need a computer to optimize that. You need technology, and that's what we do. We use pace as an asset.

We add eight players to the tee sheet per week, which drives revenue. Okay. The second thing is we reduce operational cost. So the automation alone, we don't expect people to be staring at a screen looking for issues. We have very delicate and informative ways of alerting the staff to issues that they need to address in real time. Not by driving around. The system is always aware and telling them what they need to do in order to.

improve the operation, that reduces labor costs by 30 % on average. Okay, it reduces turf replacement costs by 20 % because you're reducing the traffic on the golf course. The third is really the player experience. And that's really where we're driving reduced friction. And anything self service in the future is all going to be driven from the kiosk of the golf cart and on

phone. Okay, So to be clear, because I think you said eight golfers a week, is that right? Or is it eight golfers a day or eight golfers a week, a week? And they know what it's a conservative estimate. Because you when you talk about return on investment, there are many more that add more than eight a week, but we want to have a believability factor on what we say. And it's easy to assume that we could add eight players. Dave, Dave, are you guys in a place data wise?

where an architect can come to you and say, what's the best string of pars? So I'm talking threes, fours, and fives. What's the best way to set up a course for the best pace of play? Is that data that you have that you could actually make that contribution? Absolutely. Often, I'll tell you this quick before we end here, this is sort of an anecdote. So I can guess by looking at a scorecard where the bottleneck is.

So let me introduce you to Raymond Memorial, who I mentioned earlier. So we start with a par five straight, not dogleg, we start with a par five that's reachable, meaning reachable in two. The next hole we place slightly uphill, always into a prevailing wind, 450 yard par four, narrow as well. Then the next hole, a par four going back the other way. Those first two holes, I have become convinced in the,

40 years I've been playing there. Those first two holes are pace killers. Especially this reachable par five to start the round, right? Because of course we can't get anybody off the tee because there's one guy in the group that's trying to reach and it'd be interesting to see your data and how your data would address the - It's highly unusual to start with a par five. And that's probably not an architectural best practice. But what you often see, which is even more subtle Mike, is that

Anytime you have early in the round a par three after a par five, that is usually the bottleneck. Interesting. Okay. Good to know. Good to know. Par three after a par five, a no, no. Correct. And don't begin a golf course with a par five. Correct. Okay. All right. Well, listen, I, uh, I thank you for your time. I actually, I know you've been at this for 10 years and I know it's hard.

But if I could give you a word of encouragement, I think you're on the edge of something here. You know, I do think that the more you can impact golfer experience with certainly with benefits for the facility, but the more you can make a positive impact there, I really think you start to pour gas on the fire. So for what it's worth, there's a bald guy in central Ohio rooting for you. Thank you, Mike. I appreciate it. And this was a lot of fun.

I wish you the very best in your podcast as well. You're doing a great service for the industry. Okay. All right. We'll take care of yourself. Thanks.

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