Our start-up story
OUR START-UP STORY
Q&A WITH MORTEN BISGAARD │ CO-FOUNDER AND CEO
Q: What is Players 1st?
Players 1st is a customer experience tool that gives golf clubs great insight to their players’ experiences, their operational issues, and how to improve their ratings and the number of people recommending their course.
Q: How did you get Players 1st off the ground?
When we first came up with the idea, we decided to run tests locally in Denmark to determine if our product could help improve the customer experience at golf courses. We were excited to see that the questionnaires gave much higher response rates than expected and that the test clubs started using the insights to guide their business.
In other words, the pilot was a great success, and we started developing the product in close corporation with the Danish Golf Union.
Players 1st quickly became a national success in Denmark, but without any direct sales to the clubs. Instead, The Danish Golf Union helped spread the product and already within the first year, 78 Danish golf clubs had signed up.
Our national success in Denmark helped open the doors to other European golf unions.
Q: How did Players 1st acquire the first customers outside of Denmark?
During the following years, we entered partnerships directly with other national golf unions across Europe, without telling much to the public along the way.
Normally, startups want to get all the attention in the world – hoping to attract customers to their groundbreaking product. However, we decided not to roll out our product that way. Instead, we worked with direct partnerships. The national golf unions across Europe saw that our product would create great value for their members, and this helped us close the markets before potential competitors.
And thanks to our strong strategic partnership with the national golf unions, more than 1,000 European golf clubs are now using the software.
Q: How did you manage to scale your product?
Bringing a product to new markets means meeting new types of customers and product use cases. It requires both patience and speed. The local, national golf unions helped us understand the new markets. We wanted to assess product readiness, business drivers and other country-specific requirements.
Also, we did everything we could to offer a very personal service and support to our new customers. We knew what we had to do, which was to "eat our own medicine" so to say, and listen carefully to our new customers, act on their feedback and find the resources to develop customized solutions for each market.
Q: Why did you decide to enter the US market?
Around 45 % of the world's golf courses are in the US, so naturally, that's an interesting market for us.
The US market is very different from the European and has required a completely different strategy. In Europe, the national unions have been a strong sales network for us, but in the US the industry is simply not structured in the same way.
We entered the US market in January 2017 and we already support more than 200 clubs.
We are very optimistic about our future adventures in the US market, and we are working hard every day from our office in Phoenix, Arizona to support our new customers there.
3 PIECES OF START-UP ADVICE
Q: If you could give only three pieces of advice to other entrepreneurs that might be starting their own SaaS company, what would they be?
1. Don’t hide behind a website – or in your basement.
Take your product out there, even if it’s not perfect, and make direct sales. Spend time on every single customer and listen carefully to the feedback you get from your early customers.
2. Don't be blind to your weak spots.
You are not meant to be good at everything. Being aware of, and open about, your weaknesses will help you prioritize your own time (and money) better. Find out where you will need support and bring in people to help you.
3. Don’t worry if everything is not automated yet.
Make sure to build a product that delivers value first. Don’t spend all of your resources on an automated customer onboarding flow etc. Onboard your customers manually in the beginning, if needed.