By Joey Ferguson
OREM — Competitors in the golf software market are using out of date methods, which is why the cloud baseed solution offered by ForeUP is disrupting the industry, chief executive officer Joel Ragar said in a video interview.
ForeUP develops tee sheet and point-of-sale software for public and semi-public golf courses. Because their system is cloud-based, golf courses no longer need servers and IT specialists to run them, Ragar said. Ragar said the company will also seek between $1 and $2 million for it’s Series A funding round.
Silicon Slopes: Tell me about how ForeUP came to be. I know you guys went through quite a metamorphosis over time.
Ragar: ForeUP was started, the idea was to start a business right, not work for the man and so we kind of, my business partner and I, went through, for about three months, and picked a new business idea every day. We wrote down a whole business plan, or a mini business plan and a business idea every single day, each of us and through one of them had to do with the golf industry, it was such a huge market, and such an opportunity we saw in technology and how things were done so every day we did this and golf just kept winning, and kept coming back and coming back and so eventually it just took our eye and we ran with it.
The first thing we started in golf was, we said, let’s figure out a way for you and I to, you know, part of the communication between golfers was disrupted in a bad way, and so it’s not connected, there’s nothing happening. And so it was really labor intensive for you and I to get together as golfers and put golf rounds together, as well as have any golf connection with anyone outside of my area, and so we figured you know, we’ve got to create something that, for you, and your buddies in California or New York, you can still some golf connection somehow, and so we started with a few ideas that way. And as we got into it, we realized they were great ideas, but they were a little too premature for what the market was ready for, so we couldn’t do them.
The next thing we got into is “Let’s localize tournaments.” So lots of times you can pay one-hundred-fifty, two-hundred bucks and get into some of these charities that are at golf tournaments and so we thought, let’s build a system that would allow you to still have the competitive edge to do tournaments and different events and different golf courses that you can set up on your own and we’ll help facilitate that and make it really easy. As we got into it, golfers loved it. Great feedback, but it was a little too hard to do with the technology that was out there that we had to rely on and so we went through several other ideas and it all kept coming back down to golf course software as far as the tee sheet management system that a golf course runs, their point-of-sale, their online presence, their website provider, etc.
All of these parties, when we went to them and said, “Hey, we want to integrate, we want to API, we want to send you data, we need your data, so we can provide this service to the golfers,” and every time with got hit with “No, we can’t do that,” or “We’ll do it with this limit but it’s such a high fee, and you can’t pass it off to golf courses, you guys have to pay it per course,” and it just didn’t make any sense and so after so long of just being frustrated we said, “Forget it. Let’s just do our own tee sheet point-of-sale company, and that’s where it started.
Silicon Slopes: Now, what time span is that, how many years was that?
Ragar: That was, so December of 2011 is when decided, or 2010, is when we decided that we were going to do something. Um… The Summer of 2010 is when we did the start up, and that’s when we hashed out and went through all these different ideas, so it was I August 2011 that we really decided we were going to do tee sheet and point-of-sale and so we spent all of last year building this software talking to golf courses and getting back to the roots of the very beginning core of what a golf course uses and that’s their reservation system, and their point-of-sale, and so that’s kind of where it kicked off, is the very beginning of 2012.
Silicon Slopes: BoomStartup’s website says that you guys are funded.
Ragar: True, yeah.
Silicon Slopes: Did you get that funding right out of BoomStartup, or did it take a little while?
Ragar: It was a little tougher than we hoped, right? We all come out of BoomStartup at least a lot of people have the presence that funding is easy. And we quickly learned that it wasn’t, so we went through the rub and I think we were pretty blessed or pretty lucky in any regard.
We were able to raise seed capital. We were able to do it on a convertible note, which, from our understanding was, I don’t know, I’m not 100% sure wasn’t as common in this area. Being a first-time entrepreneur, I’m just kind of running out of the gate on a lot of things and not 100% confident which is common, what’s not. And we did it from a couple angel groups, and we did it without a live product, without a finished product, we did it without customers, and we did it without any revenue, so, I think um, I think we were pretty lucky. We didn’t have any excellent management team past experience, so I think people just took a bet on us, and hopefully they’re, from what they say, they’re happy with it, and we’re proving that it’s going to be a success.
Silicon Slopes: And who were the angel groups that invested in you?
Ragar: Um, the ones who did our convertible note were the Utah Angels, or the former Utah Angels, and then Olympus, or now Salt Lake City Angels.
Silicon Slopes: How’s that working now that the Utah Angels are gone? How’s that working for you?
Ragar: We didn’t notice much of anything, right. We communicated directly with the investors that went into our round, and so we’ve kept communication with them, and know most of them on a personal basis, and so, I think most of our communication has side-stepped the group entirely and just went directly to the investors themselves.
Silicon Slopes: So, who do you consider the competitors and the T Time Point-of-sale market? Are there competitors? And if so, how many are there?
Ragar: There’s probably, just under thirty competitors in the space, which is a lot, right? Um, but the majority of them have fifty or less golf courses to their name, and there’s sixteen and a half thousand golf courses in the U.S. So the majority of those make up a very small pool that just isn’t something to balk at, right? We’ve been able to grow past that within our first six months and now twelve months of selling the product and the main competitors are made up of about four companies.
Our positive advantage is, those are, they’re legacy old software, so they install servers at the golf course, they buy hardware, they fly someone out to set it all up, you have an IT guy that you have to work with and when we saw that that’s how software was done, we said “Forget it.” Let’s do SaaS, let’s do cloud-based, so we can get people set up in, you know, two minutes if we had to, the same day, and um, we are the only fully cloud-based system, and all of our, the majority of all our sales have come completely from those top management or top competitor companies. And it’s through the advantages that we hold, and we have a lot in the works right now and we have a huge pipeline, as golf usually, they’ll switch over in seasons. They’re in high season right now when winter hits and no one’s golfing, that’s when they switch their software over, and so we have some really productive things going on right now that’s proving some great success for 2014.
Silicon Slopes: So how much funding have you received so far?
Ragar: We haven’t disclosed publicly what we’ve taken in, and part of that’s working on our next round as well so we are beginning the states to do another series A for high-growth capital. And that’s something that we’re in the works of doing right now.
Silicon Slopes: How much are you going to raise?
Ragar: We’ll raise a significant amount that will probably take us two to three years of high growth, not including our own revenue.
Silicon Slopes: So one, two maybe?
Ragar: In that range, yup.