This isn’t the first time we’ve covered Deemples’ journey, but they’ve come along way since then. The startup has grown significantly in both size and impact while retaining its fun and goal.

So what is Deemples? In a lot of ways, it is a simple mobile app that connects golfers with others who want to play, but it is also a community and platform for the entire golfing industry in Southeast Asia.

In the past two years, the startup has built a community of over 3,000 monthly users with over 18,000 downloads of their mobile app. In that time over 10,000 rounds of golf have been played using Deemples, but David expects that number to double by the end of the year.

With the industry in decline, David’s startup is either entering at the best time to save golf or trying to resuscitate a dying game. We spoke to him to find out more about Deemples and how he plans to make golf great again.

Deemples Co-Founder and CEO, David Wong

Congratulations on the funding. Who were the major investors and how do you plan to use that money?

Thank you! We are very appreciative with the vote of confidence too. The investors were all private angel investors that have been tracking our progress since the beginning, and have now decided to come on board to help us achieve our mission of helping golfers golf more.

The money will be used for two main things – the product and marketing. Our product is fairly simple at the moment which has been focused on helping golfers find each other. We’re building more features that will allow golfers to find one another more easily as well as help golf clubs/organisers organise golf games more efficiently. We are also ramping up our marketing efforts to reach out to more new golfers and help existing users golf more.

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Golf has a perception of being a sport for an older generation, but Deemples seems to be focused on a younger demographic. Why the shift in target audience?

The shift in the target audience is to cater to longer-term demand and higher return of investment.

It is true that golf is played more frequently by an older generation. If we were to compare two golfers, one of a working age and the other who is retired, the retired golfer would definitely be playing more frequently because he has more time.

However, if we take a look at the top 20 golfers in the world presently, you will notice that the median age is 29.5. In fact, 10 out of the top 20 golfers in the world fall below the age of 30 years old. The oldest is Tiger Woods who is 43 years old.

If we take a look at our own users, over 50% of Deemples users are within the age range of 25 – 44 years old while approximately 30% are between 45 – 64 years old.

Data courtesy of Deemples

We don’t necessarily focus on a specific age range. We see the age distribution or users as it is, mainly because younger golfers are working or have new families and are finding it close to impossible to align one’s schedule with another golfer to golf with. This is where Deemples come in handy for them to get a game in. They are able to meet other available golfers during their busy schedules and expand their own network.

In the same regard for other technology-enabled services such as ride-hailing or food delivery, this use of Deemples as an app to find other golfers is reflective of the younger generation demand for technology to save time.

Helping people get into the game of golf at a younger age is also beneficial for the golf industry. The industry can benefit from a longer-term demand and a higher return on investment. Interest and demand from a younger generation will help guard against the decline of the global golf industry. The future of golf is at risk until it is able to shake off its “older white man” image in lieu of one that is inclusive of a younger and diverse crowd.

What are the strategies that have helped you build such a large and active golfing community in the region? Anything in particular standout?

My strategy is to just give golfers what they need.

Golfers just want to golf more. They need to be given the opportunity to golf as frequently as possible. Their private circle of golf buddies were never going to be sustainable: Some were getting married, some were having babies, some moved away, some changed jobs to something that took up more time, some just didn’t like golf anymore. Deemples just provided a platform for them to expand their golfing network. Now they can golf whenever and wherever they want, and were not dependent on just a few golf friends that they started off with.

A scalable technology was necessary, which is where the Deemples platform came in. However, having golfers know about the Deemples service was also necessary to kick start the community.

We’re fortunate to have a team that understands both technology and marketing strategies which could deliver a platform and could effectively reach as many golfers as possible.

As a technology service, it does seem to be disrupting a very traditional industry. Has there been any resistance or hurdles within the golfing industry/community that has been challenging for Deemples?

We have not seen Deemples eat into the share of anything within golf. So I wouldn’t call it disruptive. What we have seen though, is that Deemples has enabled even more golf than ever.

Previously, golfers that couldn’t find other golfers to golf with were considered as lost opportunities/revenue for the golf industry. The more these occurrences happen, the less interested the golfer is in golf anymore, and finally they drop out from the sport.

Because of this, we have been getting a lot of encouragement and support from the golf industry. Golf courses, social golf clubs, golf academies, golf retailers, and golf brands support Deemples by sharing the service with their customers via on-ground/in-store banners, and social media. Golf clubs also started posting available tee times on Deemples, making it easier for golfers to join and reserve their slots via the app.

What are your plans for the next 12 months in terms of expansion and monetisation – how will it impact the golfing industry in Southeast Asia?

We’re going to focus on the markets that we’re already in currently and help to increase the number of golfers that can benefit from Deemples. We are planning to use the recent funding to solidify our position in the existing markets across the five Southeast Asian countries we are in – Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines and Brunei. By using technology to bring efficiency and simplicity to the game of golf, we hope to remove the exclusivity that surrounds the sport. We are working to improve features that allow us to be the ideal platform for the golf industry to reverse the slowdown and rebuild the community.

By making it easier to find golfing buddies and giving golf courses access to a larger community of golfers, Deemples is helping boost the local golfing industries throughout the region. Golf courses are seeing more golfers visit their courses to play more regularly.

Monetisation plans are already in the works and golf courses have been signing up to be beta testers to this as soon as we are ready. These efforts will include helping golf courses accept payments upfront which guarantees revenue for courses even for no-shows.

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Do you see potential for other sports to be disrupted the way Deemples is changing golf in the region?

I’m sure there are. We just have to have a very clear understanding of habits and culture of the sport.

Golf occupies a very strong niche and is relatively structured in terms of how the game is played.  It has fixed and identifiable locations, tee times, pricing, players etc. This allows golf to be put in the sweet spot amongst all the other sports out there.

Golf is also more global and you are more likely to travel to golf and you would not do so for other sports such as football, basketball, and badminton, etc. It also has more scale and structure compared to other sports such as snowboarding, diving, horse racing, etc.

What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur?

Most aspiring entrepreneurs think too much. I say do first, and think along the way.

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