Attorney Ryan Cooper launched GolfStatus in the spring of 2012. A location-based mobile platform, GolfStatus rewards golfers for playing the game they love. Golf courses and other businesses benefit from securing, engaging, and retaining customers. Read on to learn more about Ryan’s startup in our latest Big Plate interview.
The Big Plate: What’s on your plate?
GolfStatus: One benefit to working in a seasonal industry is that the offseason provides us with more time to focus on product development. We are currently building campaign management tools that will allow golf courses and local businesses to create and manage reward campaigns on GolfStatus. To date, we have used Kiip to deliver rewards to our users from brands like Pepsi, Amazon, American Apparel, Best Buy and many other great brands. While we love providing rewards from these big name brands, we also want to get local businesses involved. Our new campaign management tools will enable us to do that. Separately, we have some innovative loyalty initiatives that we plan to complete before next golf season.
TBP: Where did the idea/inspiration come from to start GolfStatus?
GS: Before I moved to Nebraska to attend law school, I was working at a golf course and playing a lot of golf. However, when law school started, there was no more time to play golf and I was left to daydream about it during study breaks. I started thinking about how to improve the game, and more specifically, about ways to help golfers capture, archive, and share meaningful moments in their golf careers.
TBP: Do you find that working with your hobby is a good or bad thing?
GS: Now that I am running GolfStatus, I don’t get to play very often and I am okay with that. I enjoy the challenge of running a business just as much as playing golf. Overall, I am a big proponent of encouraging people to work in fields that they are passionate about. For me, GolfStatus is a great fit because it is a combination of three of my interests: golf, technology, and marketing.
TBP: You cater to two customers: Players and Reward Partners. What is the biggest challenge keeping the two groups in harmony?
GS: The biggest challenge is saying no to feature requests. We believe harmony between the two groups lies in the simplicity of our business model. Golfers enjoy being rewarded for their achievements, loyalty, and influence. Meanwhile, businesses and courses want to build better relationships with their customers. By connecting businesses and courses with golfers through rewards, everyone is happy.
TBP: Have you stayed true to your original business idea, or have you changed course as you have built the business.
TBP: What was the hardest part of building out your business and online presence?
GS: The hardest part has been saying no to or postponing several marketing and partnership opportunities. At GolfStatus, we are focused on building a quality product and have allocated the majority of our time and money towards that goal. With that said, our niche focus has allowed us to be targeted and efficient with our marketing efforts.
TBP: Other businesses that you admire?
GS: I admire the way Apple has changed everything about technology, and when it comes to golf, Titleist is the best. Somehow Titleist makes you happy to pay $4 per golf ball, which is amazing. But when it comes down to it, I admire every business, large and small, that can provide people with jobs and a livelihood. For me, that’s always been the most admirable part of being an entrepreneur.
TBP: Lessons you’ve learned you would like to share?
GS: Nothing about creating a successful business is easy, so you need to stick it out. It takes a lot of hard work, and you learn a lot about yourself along the way. The tests come when you feel like you’ve done everything you could and you couldn’t possibly do any more. Those are the times when you have to dig deeper and grow as a person to help your business grow.
As Steve Jobs said back in January 2000 in Fortune: “The problem with the internet startup craze isn’t that too many people are starting companies; it’s that too many people aren’t sticking with it. That’s somewhat understandable, because there are many moments that are filled with despair and agony, when you have to fire people and cancel things and deal with very difficult situations. That’s when you find out who you are and what your values are.”