Interview with Jamie Harrison, the Founder & CEO of Ultimate Golf Factory -- a golf tech start-up in Shanghai, which designs and distributes a high-tech Golf training product and app that utilizes sensors and machine learning to greatly improve golf skills.
1. Could you describe what your product is?
My product is a wearable with multiple sensors to help golf learners isolating the root causes of good shots vs bad shots, so as to make great strides on the learning curve of golf.
It’s composed of four parts which a golfer will wear onto their hand, shoulder, back, feet and the golf club.
Unlike our competitors, our system of wearable sensors allows us to diagnose root cause of the issues people have with golf swings. It not only collects the key attributes of the golfer’s every swing by applying the latest sensor technology, it will analyze all the collected data and compare them with the big data of millions times of swings by golf masters stored in our apps, then using AI to instruct the players what and how to improve in their next swing. One swing at a time.
2. How did you come up with this product idea?
I have always been keen on combining golf tuition with data analysis. I played golf for more than 20 years. And my work passion is using data to make better business decisions and processes and push the boundaries of mechanization of business decisions.
Currently golf beginners learn golf by either relying on coach, or watching tutorial video or self practicing. Considering the already loaded work life of most golfers, these above methods are time-consuming and not that effective. The coaches told you a lot, but when you practiced alone, you forgot most of what the coaches said. Watching tutorial video is fun, but beginners often found it’s hard to apply them into practice. When you practice by yourself, you are not aware of your own faults and mistakes.
So I came up with the idea of a sports product that can give the students a feedback on the important dynamics in their actions. This combined with expert logic for each sport can greatly improve the experience of learning a sport such as golf.
3. How did you turn your idea into the product?
I came up with this golf wearable idea when I was still a manager at BMW’s Beijing office. Then I spent substantial time to analyse the competitive landscape and assess the technology and production entailed. I set up my own consulting company before, and I acted as intrapreneur in both of my old employers -- BMW and General Electric. So I know a bit about what an entrepreneur means.
After extensive due diligence, I thought it’s better I found my own company to devote to this project. So in April 2017 I founded Ultimate Golf Factory in Shanghai. During the last 14 months, my technology team developed the algorithms behind the product and patented our creative technologies. At the same time, I sourced the electronic components from many China manufacturers. In February next year, my product will come to the market.
Thanks to Benjamin and the Hubbers team we were able to source an investor for the project. He is what an entrepreneur is looking for: a visionary who believes in the idea. I am really grateful to the Hubbers network for sourcing this investor: a key milestone for the project.
4. How do you plan to promote and sell your product?
We will firstly promote our products and apps in China’s big cities in five ways:
- Referral by golf coaches, or word of mouth
- We will participate in golf fairs and exhibitions
- We will carry out many try-before-you-buy rental operations
- We will launch various demo booths in airports, high-end hotels and shopping malls.
- I also want the topic to be raised within golf knowledge social media platforms. This is where curious golfers look for answers. My system is one of the answers I believe.
5. Could you imagine what your company will look like in two to five years’ time?
Now my company is funded mostly by myself and one strategic investor which approached me via Hubbers. Later when the product and apps are better developed, I plan to tap more financing sources and partners by way of Internet platforms like Hubbers or other crowdfunding websites.
My product and app idea can be applied to other sports and learning activities. We are also developing AI-powered sportswear, all thanks to our strong algorithm competence. In a couple of years, you will see our products and apps in more sports and also hobbies.
6. What is your advice for wannabe entrepreneurs?
- Firstly, you need to have a well thought-through and researched problem statement. Your product or service should be targeting a pain which is untreated yet or can be better treated.
- Secondly, you always need to ask yourself a question – why you can succeed while so many other capable and experienced competitors will fail? What makes you stand out and last?
- Thirdly, please don’t expect a perfect product from the beginning. It’s more important to create a functionable primary product and test it on the market.
With over 25 years of global experience in multiple industries, Jamie Harrison is expert in business model and process reform and revamp, thought leadership, data mining and analysis, and Lean Six Sigma.
This article was written by Davide Toole.