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One of the most loved sports globally, golf is continuously on the rise. golfscape is building one of the industry’s leading marketplaces for golf in the world, connecting golfers to courses in over 30 golf destinations across Europe, Africa, Near East, Caribbean, and Asia-Pacific.
Last year alone, one million rounds of golf from 100 different countries were booked via golfscape, proving global demand for a seamless booking experience and access to elite and recreational courses all over the world, including some of the best golf courses in England, and golf courses in Dubai.
We sat down with co-founder Raghad Mukhaimer to find out more about the brand revolutionising the golfing experience.
What is golfscape’s vision?
In terms of technology, the golf industry is a decade behind accomodation and travel, resulting in an incredibly poor user experience. Our vision is to leapfrog the industry norm with our technology, and ultimately be the go-to destination for worldwide golf bookings – becoming the “Expedia for golf”.
What was the first moment you decided you had to start the business?
I had done some consulting for a few golf groups early in my career, and got a view into how archaic the tech that powered this industry was. It was quite ironic to see how much consumers were willing to put up with low-tech solutions, just to satisfy their passion for the game. I knew then that this would be a huge opportunity, and I left the corporate world almost immediately for the startup life.
What was the first hurdle you faced and how did you overcome it?
When we started, we were working in a world where golf courses were scattered across borders, time zones, languages, and currencies. One thing was almost guaranteed – golf courses had no inventory available online. Some were using legacy mainframe systems and others were running their operations on pen-and-paper. Regardless, golf rounds were being booked for hundreds of dollars each, all offline. To move forward in this reality, we built a complete cloud-based extranet that allowed golf courses to bring as much or as little of their inventory online in a matter of seconds – for the first time ever. This was groundbreaking in the markets we launched in, and brought golf reservation on par with flights and hotel booking platforms.
Why did you choose to disrupt the golf industry specifically?
I saw an industry that was so averse to change, and was moving slowly as a result. Its technology fabric was so behind. Yet, the ASP for each transaction was astronomical compared to other activities. I knew if I could solve both the connectivity barriers and drastically improve the user experience, golfscape would be a natural go-to for golfers and golf courses alike.
What was the first step in building the tech you needed for the platform?
We first had to understand the nature of the golf inventory resource – the tee time. It is very perishable. If a tee time is not booked or scheduled in advance, no one can utilize it since the next tee time will start within a few minutes with a new group of golfers ready to play. Next, each one of these tee times had a complex array of rates associated with it. The rate changes based on the time of day, day of the week, type of customer, whether they are a member or not. If they are a member, then which one of a dozen types members, and what rates are they entitled to? Then you need to consider for each scenario, how far in advance a golf course allows bookings to be made. The point is, the tee time is a very complex resource that was served by very cumbersome solutions. We had to reimagine what the end-user wanted to see, and how to get them from A to Z in as few steps as possible.
How did you recruit your core team members and why are the fit for the job?
While I knew we had a huge opportunity to disrupt the industry, we would face huge hurdles on our way to realize our vision. There are fundamental reasons why golf is the way it is, and the only way to drastically change the status quo is with sheer determination. We ultimately sought talent that thrive in the face of challenge and grow in their roles through uncharted paths.
What will be the greatest opportunity in this industry moving forward?
There has been a seismic shift from offline to online transactions in golf. This year has magnified that shift, and forced the industry as a whole to adapt overnight. This means that in the same way technology is used to dine, travel, communicate, and pay – I believe that golf is about to undergo a transition that will turn all assumptions on their head, and allow for innovation to be massively rewarded.
Are there any significant competitors for golfscape at the moment?
Our business has grown over 8 years to service a multitude of verticals in the golf industry, across the dozens of markets we operate in. We might find in a market, there is a player competing with us on one service. And in another market, there might be another player competing on a different service. However, there is no business that provides a full-stack solution across the vast worldwide coverage that we’ve achieved. We’ve been truly trailblazing in this space and are years ahead of the industry.
What’s up next in your immediate product pipeline?
We have a Netflix-style subscription focused on the day-to-day golfer, and we will have some very exciting announcements to make in the coming weeks ahead!
Why did you choose crowdfunding?
Seedrs was very appealing as it opens up the golfscape opportunity to thousands of golfers who would love to participate in the growth of the industry, but have no direct way to do so. Backing golfscape gives the investment-minded a direct hand in the evolution of a sport that is loved dearly.
What will this round help you accomplish?
This raise will allow us to continue our worldwide growth, with a strong focus on the UK and Western Europe. The proceeds we raise will help to expand our talented market and engineering teams, as well as our partnership efforts.
What’s the best way to spend an afternoon?
For me, there’s nothing more fulfilling than spending time with those I care about most – sharing a meal, view, idea, or an accomplishment!
What’s the number one thing you’ve learned through entrepreneurship?
There is no end for an entrepreneur; defeat is only for those who accept it.
If you could start all over again, is there anything you’d do differently?
There are lots of things I would do differently, but perhaps the most important for me would be to take short breaks more frequently. I’ve learned that a clear mind allows you to briefly disconnect, rejuvenate, and get a fresh perspective on challenges. I would have also started my tea addiction on day one!
To find out more about golfscape, check out the pitch now.