Today we sat down with Blue Tees Golf Co-Founder Chris Markham to learn about what inspired the creation of the brand, what tools they use to ensure success, and what they see as the future for the brand and the sport.
What was the idea or problem that inspired you to start Blue Tees Golf?
Blue Tees Golf was founded on a simple notion, high quality rangefinders for golf do not have to be expensive. The idea was born when the founders went to purchase their own rangefinders and noticed there are two options, either expensive $400+ or cheap Amazon models. Given the cost of all the equipment associated with golf, they opted for the cheap Amazon rangefinder. To their dismay, shortly after receiving them they broke as the eyepiece fell off. With backgrounds in industrial design, e-commerce, and sales and marketing they set out to create a high quality, yet affordable rangefinder with a southern California style that would give the modern golfer what they need on the course. Six months later, the first rangefinder was launched, and the brand quickly took off.
Give us a current snapshot of Blue Tees – what’s exciting to you about working in the sports technology & accessories space at this moment, given the ongoing pandemic?
There are two positive headwinds helping Blue Tees right now. The first is that the pandemic has driven a surge in demand for outdoor activities where people can socially distance with friends. The result has been an abundance of newcomers to the sport along with a shortage of tee times at almost every course, driving an increase in sales for golf equipment. The second is that for the first time the PGA Championship, one of the four majors, announced that for the first time they will allow distance measuring devices, including rangefinders, in tournament play. The added validation for rangefinders on the bag while playing is proving to grow the demand for the category across the board.
Tell us about Blue Tees’ financial situation – what made you consider inventory-based financing, and why did you choose Assembled Brands as a strategic investment partner?
Blue Tees started as a direct-to-consumer focused e-commerce company. With the founder’s expertise in marketing, several retailers quickly took notice. The working capital required to fund both inventory production and accounts receivable was outside of the capital the business had on hand. Given the business had only been around for a year, it was impossible to find a bank that would provide a traditional line of credit. Assembled Brands both understood our direct-to-consumer business while offering the perfect blend of working capital financing that was needed to scale the business into retail in 2021.
What are the 3 software tools or platforms that keep the wheels moving at Blue Tees?
Xero – Accounting Software
Monday – Project Management
Slack – Internal Communications
What macro trend is your brand riding, and is there a unique niche you hope to corner?
Golf has systematically shifted over the last few years with the rise of brands like Travis Mathew, GFORE, Lululemon, & Barstool Sports. Alongside athletes outside of golf such as Steph Curry and Tom Brady, a new dynamic has been brought to the game.
While golf has always been a traditional sport, there is a new wave of golfer who wants to bend the rules of tradition and bring their own personal style and identity to the sport.
The “Modern Golfer” is not a monolithic group, but rather a shift in ideology to make golf cool for everyone.
Pants are no longer required during PGA Tour practice rounds while trends in style have allowed hoodies, joggers, and loud vibrant shirts to become acceptable attire during PGA events and at the country club. Self-expression and style are now a direct reflection of personality on the course.
Blue Tees is aiming to disrupt the rangefinder market by meeting the demands of this new wave of golfer with its minimalistic designs that complement their personal styles.
What companies in the modern brand ecosystem do you look up to?
What advice would you give to other founders of emerging sports technology & accessories brands, and what lessons have you learned during the growth of your business?
Build a team of people that are smarter than you with different yet complementary skills and then get out of their way.
What’s next for Blue Tees? Any exciting plans or goals you’re working towards?
Blue Tees near term goal is a successful roll out of its new rangefinder in store at several major retailers across the USA. It then plans to continue its disruption of the market by offering differentiated designs and styles of its rangefinder lineup.
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