DAVID wong loves golf. And he thinks there should be more golfers around.
The chief executive officer and co-founder of golfing startup Deemples aims to “double the population of golfers in the world”.
Launched in 2017, Deemples is an app that matches and connects golfers and enables them to organise games at preferred locations and time slots.
The company has built an active community on its platform with some 3,600 monthly users. Since 2017, Deemples has been downloaded 21,000 times and over 15,000 rounds of golf have been played through the app.
Earlier this year, the startup closed a funding round at US$105,000 (RM432,967), bringing its total funds raised so far to around US$270,000.
Wong, who has a background in sales, decided to work on the app to stay in the game.
“I picked up golf 10 years ago because I thought it was the cool and ‘atas’ thing to do. I found out that it wasn’t as expensive as people put it to be. About 100 balls at the driving range cost just RM10 and you can hit for hours. A golf round in Malaysia can be as low as RM80 on weekdays for a round of 18 holes which takes four to five hours,” he shares.
Clearly, pricing wasn’t an issue. But finding a golf buddy was.
“You couldn’t golf if your friends couldn’t make it. There are only about 250,000 golfers in Malaysia, which means only about 1 in 100 people in Malaysia do golf.
“You need a minimum of two persons to book a tee time on weekdays, and a minimum of three people to book for weekends. If you can’t find another golfer that is available to golf the same time you are, then you’re hard out of luck. So much for golfing for you,” he adds.
He came across a few apps that catered to golfers in different parts of the world, but notes that most of them were not properly built and marketed.
Consequently, tractions were low.
“We thought we could do a better job at it, not only because I was passionate about the game, but because we had the technology, design and marketing knowledge from our backgrounds that would allow us to carry this forward to serve the golfers.
“Today, we help thousands of golfers every month find a golf game to play across five countries in South-East Asia,” he says.
But Deemples is not all about merely onboarding golfers. Wong says plans to generate revenue are expected to kick off towards the end of the year.
The app will soon introduce a payment feature to help golf courses accept payments upfront. There are currently about 350 golf courses under the app.
Further down the line, Deemples will also be exploring other business models including advertising and building a marketplace.
Funds from its latest funding round will mainly be used for product development and marketing in its existing markets – Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines and Brunei.
“Once we have proven monetisation, we’ll raise another round to scale to more markets,” says Wong.
Notably, Deemples isn’t the only sport-based app to have come into the market. In recent years, other sports enthusiasts have also put out various apps that cater to different functions including social networking and bookings.
But many of these apps have failed to scale in a big way, mostly remaining within a limited circle of users.
Wong opines that Deemples has a certain “nicheness” that has worked to its advantage, allowing the app to be a bit more successful than the rest.
“Finding the target audience for Deemples has been much easier as compared to, say, badminton, football and basketball apps (which are too mass), or motorsports, diving, polo, snow sports, pottery and art jamming apps (which are too niche).
“We do look at how these other apps perform and are built or designed, and learn from them in terms of where they’re successful at and what not to follow where they fail at,” he says.
He hopes that as Deemples grow, it will also be able to reverse the slowing growth of the golfing industry in the region. He is fairly confident he’ll be able to do just that as Deemples help to match more golfers and connect new golfers to the sport.
“Golf is dying for a few reasons, it’s expensive, takes too much time and takes too much resources to maintain. However, the people that golf, really, really love golf,” he notes.
He adds that the platform will eventually allow more golf clubs and organisers to host golfing activities.