“I have a tip that can take five strokes off anyone’s golf game: It’s called an eraser,” Arnold Palmer once remarked. Yes, Even brave enough to wear ridiculous clothes and hack a small white ball around a manicured lawn, golf is a difficult and sometimes humiliating, sport.
Luckily for golfers, John McGuire feels your pain and is on a mission to make the game just a little less painful for anyone daring (and ignorant) enough to pick up a club. His new company, Active Mind Technology, wants to give the golfing masses access to the same tools traditionally reserved for the pros by leveraging the same wearable sensor-based technologies found in health-tracking devices like Fitbit, Basis and Jawbone’s Up.
And who better to assist in that endeavor than the mastermind behind the design of products like Jambox, Jawbone and Jawbone Up? Joining McGuire and his team of twenty is Yves Behar, the design and branding guru (and Chief Creative Officer of Jawbone) known for helping to design the products mentioned above as well as those for PUMA, General Electric, Samsung, Prada and more.
While Behar hasn’t assumed a title in the company, McGuire tells us that he has not only led the design of the UI, UX, branding and packaging of Active Mind’s newest product, he’s also and investor and “thankfully, even acts like a founder,” he says.
This week, McGuire, Behar and team officially unveiled Game Golf, a wearable product that employs a combination of sensors, GPS and NFC technologies to provide golfers with a stream of data and feedback to help them improve their scores.
Essentially, the device, which includes transmitter tags that are inserted into clubs and a receiver that can be attached to your belt, track every shot a user takes during a round, as well as distance, club selection and so on. And, a la health and fitness trackers, Game Golf compiles this data and syncs it with the cloud, allowing users to then access their performance data via its mobile app on their mobile devices and personal computers.
Golfers can then share highlights of their round and their overall progress with friends by way of their social network(s) of choice, and see the percentage of shots that they hit in the fairway, greens in regulation, and putting performance. Backing its software, the team has designed Game Golf’s battery to accomodate two full rounds of data tracking before requiring a charge.
Though that all equates to a good start, one feature that’s conspicuously absent is that the device is not able to measure the velocity of one’s swing (or its relative accuracy). his could deter some early adopters, it’s not a flat-out deal breaker; however, adding this capability down the road could become a significant selling point for those sitting on the fence.
And, unfortunately for those looking for instant gratification, Game Golf isn’t yet available in stores. Instead, the company has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo through which it hopes to raise $125,000 in an effort to finance its product development and distribution. In spite of (or perhaps because of) the fact that it will cost a hefty $249 when it does become publicly available in stores, McGuire tells us that Game Golf quickly became one of the fastest money-raising campaign in Indiegogo’s history, raising $63K in 12 hours.
Now, two days removed from launch, the campaign has raised over $108,000. At this rate, it should meet its goal within a week, which the founder takes as a promising sign of the potential demand for its golf tracker.
Based on its initial concept and after recruiting well-known pro golfers like Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell to help with early testing (and invest), Active Mind was able to raise seed financing from a bevy of reputable investors, including Chamath Palihapitiya, Jerry Yang (of AME Cloud Ventures), Morado Venture Partners, Crosslink Capital and Ed Colligan (the Former CEO of Palm) — to name a few.
“Game Golf gives everyone access to crucial data that can dramatically improve your golf game and handicap,” McDowell says of its appeal to golfers. “[It's] intuitive, doesn’t disrupt your game and is essential for any golfer looking to understand their game better and knock down their handicap.”
With its Indiegogo campaign acting as a proof of concept, the startup is currently in the process of raising what McGuire tells us will be a $4 million series A round. If Game Golf is able to sustain this early demand, it will eventually look to expand into other sports, like board and motor sports and soccer, for example.
While the near-term plan involves serious iterating around Game Golf, McGuire said that the platform is being architected in such a way that it will be able to eventually help users measure activity — and provide a gamification and social layer — across multiple sports.
As to Game Golf, the founder said that users can expect to see its public launch sometime this summer.
For more, find the startup’s Indiegogo campaign here, along with video demo below: