Jeff Wibben, PGA Professional & Co-Founder at Golf Pro Delivered

Scaling Up Services - 011 - Jeff Wibben

Jeff Wibben, PGA Professional & Co-Founder at Golf Pro Delivered

Jeff is a PGA Golf Professional and Co-Founder of Golf Pro Delivered, an event company that brings portable golf simulators and PGA Pros to special events. Jeff has helped thousands of people learn golf, and he's passionate about showing people that golf can enrich your life and even help grow your business.


[00:00:01] You're listening to scaling of services where we speak with entrepreneurs authors business experts and thought leaders to give you the knowledge and insights you need to scale your service based business faster and easier.

[00:00:15] And now here is your host Business Coach Bruce Eckfeldt.

[00:00:22] Welcome everyone. This is scaling up services.

[00:00:25] I'm Bruce I and I'm your host today. I'm here with Jeff women. Jeff welcome to the program.

[00:00:30] Thank you Bruce. Thanks for having me on release and to be here.

[00:00:33] Yeah well I'm excited to have you. So I'm going to have your full bio in the show notes and stuff but real quick for the folks that are listening and Jeff is a golf professional is a PGA golf pro and he's co-founder of GoPro delivered. I'm going to talk a little bit about what that is and how that came about. It really this is a fascinating conversation for me because it really is kind of goes to the core of scaling up services which is about how do we innovate and how do we build and grow businesses that are fundamentally have this sort of service component. And I think your story is really really fascinating. And he's in the middle of it. He's a fairly recent venture but he's made some great strides. So Jeff why don't we start with just having you give people a sense of your background and how you kind of came up with idea why it came about. And then we can talk a little bit about some of them not supporting the business and what you're working on.

[00:01:21] Yes sounds great Bruce so taking things back probably just about 10 years ago you know putting myself back into high school times. I was actually a baseball player going into high school was not a golfer by any means and an injury pitching actually led me getting into golf because my doctor said hey it's surgery or golf. I recommend golf. And so I actually fell into golf by accident. I end up loving it competing in states in high school and then went on to go to college down the coast of Carolina. The one golf school where I got my PGA certification and ended up started to work in the golf industry made my way out of Pebble Beach in California and spent two and a half years out there as a pro and basically just loved every minute of it. And so I've been kind of like the ultimate golf experiment where I wasn't a golfer. I didn't grow up you know a country bumpkin there's nothing wrong with that. But you know I was accidental golf and it totally transformed my life. I mean so my best life experiences are on the golf course my family with friends making relationships in business and so basically after all that I ended up back home in New York. And I was working at a private club. And then after my first year at this club me and another guy after being really inspired by a guy named Brad Cardona and his next role which I know you know represent know the other side to me.

[00:02:46] Yeah but.

[00:02:48] Yes so basically he inspired us to think 10x and we were always trying to you know make our mark like golf and see what can we do to grow the game and as PGA professionals. That's why we do what we do we're trying to grow the team and get more people into it. So basically one day after reading that my business partner Nick and I got together and we said there's got to be something more. What are we missing here. And the first giant problem that jumped out at us and I guess is how smart you. You identify a problem. I said Golf is amazing but so many people don't play that way sets are saying why what the heck is. Why is this huge wall. Because we've been in golf the last 10 years we don't even remember I couldn't get into it. And so I started looking around asking friends and family and colleagues and senior business people we knew. Oh sorry I would play golf I don't have the time or. Honestly it's intimidating to go down there. Or it's it's hard. I'm not going to golf I can't play my kids home. So after hearing that hundreds of times we said well what if we could bring the golf course to that person and they could actually play golf in their backyard. All they can do is push a button on their phone. Golf Course gets delivered to their house at PGA professional to accomplish that and teach them how to play in less time in a convenient spot. That's not intimidating then by the time they get invited out by a business professional colleague or friend they're ready to go and they don't even see that coming. So we wanted to basically just give people that initial spark with one on one golf lessons. We almost called our company Home pro until we figured out that I was like home painting in the home you could get you in the wrong category for me category.

[00:04:29] So we realized early that that would've been a mistake and especially looking back now you know sometimes you know you think you know exactly where business is going in almost every week. We have to pivot and adjust and continue to evolve.

[00:04:43] You and I like I like us the kind of the origin story here because for me it's one of the key factors of strategy and it's something that you know I do a lot of work with with companies.

[00:04:54] It's something we call it out of the kind of gazelles scaling up environment we call X Factor which is figuring out what what is the the one thing and the one big reason that kind of hinders or defines the industry or resistance inside the industry inside the market inside a product or service. And figuring out how do I kind of it on its head. And I think this whole idea of identifying the big challenge which is it's hard to get to the of course logistics kind of the logistic intimidation both emotional and practical kind of logistics of getting it into the game of golf and actually taking the golf course to the home is a really interesting big idea and I find that it's you know companies that can identify that that x factor inside their market can build really kind of innovative and even revolutionary kind of business doesn't it.

[00:05:43] So so I love this idea that that kind of was the initial spark on this and certainly that you know Grant Grant is quite the motivator and he gets people to think big sites. It's fun to hear someone that kind of use that as fuel.

[00:05:57] And I think and not uncommon to most companies that I see kind of doing this there is this initial big idea and you kind of go into this new business model this new market model but then you start to learn and you start to see OK. So yeah great idea. But there are some details and maybe some things that you didn't realize when you first thought of it as you start to do it. Tell us a little bit about some of the learnings that you had once you start a kind of bringing this idea to market. What were some of the epiphanies what some of the things that came up that you had to kind of grapple with.

[00:06:28] Oh yeah that's a great question. I would say the number one thing that jumps out right away. And I think this is probably the most important thing for any new business is making the mistake that thinking you need to make your product or service perfect before you ever even think about customers. And before you think about sales. And so basically what we did is we spent the first eight months of our of our business planning perfect or at least thinking what we were doing was perfecting our product in our service for ever calling a single customer and saying they would be interested in or you know trying to get sales beforehand you know. So when you look at a company like Tesla who is selling all this stuff before they even have a product like now. If I could go back again I was I would much rather do something along those lines. So I think that would be number one and I would say as we've transitioned through the initial stages of oh my gosh it takes marketing and business development. You need a team around you. An idea doesn't sell you and your team and your strategy itself. So after realizing that that doesn't just magically fall from the tree. I would say at this point to the really interesting thing is that you know young companies especially like mine are so sales driven you're so focused on making sure there's revenue coming in and a lot of times you can work so much in your business and do so many of the little tasks and you know all the things that make everything perfect and you stop looking at the thing as a whole.

[00:07:57] So if you remember back we actually did a workshop together. And I remember going through some of the strategy planning and I'm looking through it like this. Some of the stuff isn't isn't like so revolutionary thought of it but I was like we haven't even done this. We haven't even had meetings and we haven't even looked at some of these strategies and it does sell light bulbs go off. So I would say if you could if we could start with sales and then try to figure out more the rest and then to somehow schedule like a monthly meeting or something where you can just spend one or two days stepping back not working you know not feel like you've got to make 100 calls a day. So give yourself one day and just and with your partners and go through it going analysis sheet you know like I said before I get get a team get mentors find someone like you for example and just really go through those things. And I would say those two are the number one things that were challenging and are still challenging.

[00:08:55] Yeah I think honestly that is something that comes up with just about every business particularly in an earlier stage when you're trying to develop you know new products and address new markets and really kind of get traction with a particular product or service. The idea of customer development. One of the principles I love to say is is your unknown unknowns are always going to be more decisive than your known unknowns. Right. So the things that you know right now are going to be challenges with your customers are not actually going to be the things that define your product and service. It's the things you have not discovered yet. And so it's getting into a market trying to sell having people use the product or service you know whether it's in a just kind of a presale kind of environment or in a prototype environment. Anything you can do to get feedback and interaction with customers is going to start covering those things that are the things you have not uncovered that are really going to be the deciding factor not the things that you kind of know are the challenges. And I think to your point I think people end up spending too much time kind of navel-gazing on the problems they have in front of them because they want to solve problems and so they see a problem they want to solve it rather than actually going out and trying to find new problems that might actually much more decisive. So I think it's a really great example of that and then the whole idea of kind of stepping back for me is this kind of reflection retrospect being a process.

[00:10:10] I mean honestly I tend to suggest you know once a week you know you have a little bit of a plan the work do the work at the end of the week take a step back. OK what do we learn. What's working with outworking what might you want to attain. What might we have learned that we don't really appreciate that we need to kind of formalize or really break into what we're doing so that we don't forget I think oftentimes it's not only that you don't realize the problem or Unicomp with you things that you don't actually see some progress you have made and the importance of that and actually kept stacking that into knowledge as you as you go. So a really really great really really great observations. I think it's great that you're here. You're going to demonstrating that in the work that you've done so learning kind of how this product of elements could so I think maybe one thing to kind of describe to us our audience here is that your customers don't. The whole notion of customer has really kind of developed and shifted for you over time. So talk to us a little bit about who you defined as sort of your customer out of the gate and then how how kind of your iterations played with that. How are you kind of defined that focused. Refocus it shifted it over time and continue to me.

[00:11:20] Yeah that's a really good question. It kind of ties into what you were just talking about about feedback and from the customers and getting that kind of information and tracking it then and then going in again. So when we first started out the whole point we actually and I Soumises for we invented a portable golf simulator. That's that's really the core of what we do. We thought that our customer was going to be a new golfer who wanted to get into golf in their backyard. And that was that's all that we knew of a customer. We're more like Yeah we'll bring PGA pros to your backyard. Very simple. That's it. And very very quickly we realized a couple of things. One the economics of that are fairly limited to our mission and our vision was to basically reach the world that golf right and if you're trying to do that one of the time is going to take you you don't have a slave right. Yeah right. So it was just very simple concepts are very simple thinking and then we didn't even think about how our products would apply from events until we started to get inquiries. So talking about listening to your customer we have people say hey well you know we do we do team building activities we do client sales department meetings and we're always looking for an icebreaker and a way to help people.

[00:12:34] So it's these relationships and so we said oh well maybe our customer isn't just the person looking for instruction but it's an event entertainment service where we can help sellotaped and basically bottle up that golf experience where someone's taking a client out golfing bringing that to the customer and then having 100 people enjoy it at the same time. And so it's it's taken us just about a year and a half to figure that out entirely. We're still in theory out because we sell the product. We do events we do golf clinics and we do private parties and we do corporate and you know it's it's it's very interesting because every company is very different and their alignment with what they're trying to do is very different with their needs. So we're always looking to get feedback with that whether it's the team building or whether it's hey I really want him you know impressive skyline I want that to go well. It's hey we just we just want it to happen. Don't push anything just enjoy it. So continually getting that is something we we know is very important now and expanding on that and we didn't do that very well early on. We didn't get good feedback and that definitely delayed our progress. Looking back that would be another.

[00:13:44] And then there learning well early early stage early stage companies are kind of the story of looking back though. Yeah yeah. That's a reset button for us. You know I think the only as much as I can't go back in time I think the one thing that I really try to focus on are working with folks as it's trying to accelerate that learning that learning cycle and accelerating the learning time. Because I think you know you're hitting it right on you right on the head of the nail here which is you know you're only through with experimentation interacting selling working with customers providing products and services that you actually get that feedback and you get that learning you can't you know you can't sit in a laboratory and pre know these things and experiment to get to the things you actually have to interact with people so the more you interact and the faster you interact you're going to increase that learning cycle and the more that you actually hate those interactions and think of them as learning experiences and pull from them.

[00:14:38] The learning sometimes it takes a while you'll have you know four or five interactions before finally it's kind of hitting you on the head. Oh wait maybe there's something maybe there's a different way of doing this and you get that out after the second one rather than a big one you're going to increase your you know increase your learning cycle so. So I think and I think it's probably one of the most important things for an early stage company to do is to figure out those possible customers those possible products and services you're going to give them and pivoting in the right way. We always say that it's you want to change one but not both. So if I have a product or service. Who else can I sell it to or if I have a customer. What else can I sell them and doing those Pivot's is going to what is going to allow you to get to a successful profitable scalable product service. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:15:23] Oh sorry I was going to say I love what you just said because it's so important and I think the way that we realize what you just said of how to pivot and find the customer at this point isn't it. Originally we thought that it was. Who's going to like our product the most. And when you're a service company that gets a traction but doesn't get dollars people will say I like you but no. So so what we found out was that your customer is who you give the most value to not who likes you the most. And originally are our mentors advisers said that not everyone is your customer. And originally we said sure everybody is really funny and we want to build a huge business. We have several headquarters. I would turn anybody away. We weren't really understanding what they made entirely and we were trying to be everything to everybody and just kind of like diving in and getting lost in the shuffle and not really focusing in on the value. And so now what we're doing is we're focusing on the customers that will provide the most value to try to double down on that. And then the customers that are on the outer rim we're going to continue to engage them build a community with them but not try to sell them our most from year stuff. We're going to have suppliments are the things that provide more value for them.

[00:16:37] So I like the kind of irony of the whole thing is that the faster you want to grow the more you want to scale the more you actually needed to focus. So the fewer people you need to serve with fewer products and services because if you can really zero in on that Neige and you can zero in on their product service mix and actually make it easier makes it easier to sell. Easier to market easier to service easier and still easier to price rates of all the things actually become simpler and more scalable. You know I can find more customers easier I can hire people and train them faster if I've actually reduced the service and the focus rather than trying to serve everyone says Mouallem.

[00:17:14] I'm too young so yeah I'm not surprised that you're kind of learning these things and I think I'm afraid that you're doing.

[00:17:20] I actually wanted to go into the product and elements out a the because I think this is a really key things for service based companies which is one of the dirty little secrets of scaling service companies. You actually want to make them look like product companies. The more you can make it look like a package serve as a package. Now that's a package the easier it is to sell and price and all these things and you're going to be more focused on value based pricing than cost based pricing because you're more about the value it's going to deliver rather than the amount of time and energy put into it. In their if you actually have you actually have some real IPs and intellectual property around around the stuff. How did you go about originally kind of deciding what he wanted develops. I know there's there's you know there's a school simulator market out there. How did you kind of approach that portion of the product development side and within which piece of the Tacker which what type of IP you want to develop and how did you develop that and what have you learned about that process.

[00:18:15] Yeah great. There's so much good stuff in there. I'll start with you know just how I guess we started this and we were searching for the perfect combination of solution with with mobile Casiño. So there's plenty of simulators out there. We're not we weren't trying to reinvent the wheel so to speak in terms of how those work we want to keep those working exactly as they work. But the letters they have are so they can't get wet they can't be outdoors.

[00:18:40] Basically break down and you'll lose 60000 dollars. Real quick. So he said well how can we find a way to make it waterproof. So we looked into some of the kind of stuff and outdoor proof. Now we're lightweight shoot it's still really heavy and it's not very mobile. How do we move steam around. We. What's like what's movable what's what's small and what could possibly you know expand or whatnot and so eventually we figured hey an inflatable or like there's no way. Like how can we make a airplane. And so basically all the checkmarks work. We had waterproof we had small we got lightweight we got quickset up and so we're like we can really use things so we search for manufacturers in the US who had the highest quality and we found one downscaled all star inflatables and they actually made inflatables for the NFL.

[00:19:32] So they have 400 pound linemen running cleats on their inflatable hills because you know in places like cowboys they don't have hills and valleys. So they run up the sails and they're in the last 10 years. So we're like OK durability. This is the number one company great customer service. We're going with them. We found them. And then from there we said well it's still one of the most low tech type of things possible. So we said how do we take an inflatable and make it so it can fully function with all these high tech electronics protect them we're very seamlessly and not look like a hunk of junk thrown together and all that stuff. So kids play Bartee. Yeah. So the first one. Accordingly we nicknamed Frankenstein and it was basically just all these things chopped up a and from there we went to refine and we found out a way to make you know the electronics built in. So now when you when you inflate it all you do is plot your thing into the wall. And it's waterproof and it has a built in screen. And you know it's got the logos already on and stuff like that and so we were saying well we could probably get this thing going so we found it. You know we had a recommendation for an attorney and we said what if we could really get a you know a utility patent on basically turning a little more or less into a fully functioning golf studio simulator. So that's how we we really started to begin. And we've probably made about 60 changes to it since we started. And we're constantly making changes. And so far we've been patent pending for about a year and a half. So we're getting pretty close and things are looking really good. So it's really exciting. Yeah.

[00:21:16] So that's I like and I like that you know kind of figuring out what one of the pieces I guess what are the product efficiencies that you kind of see in the current setup and then how do I go out and find the related solutions that are out there in the market maybe in different markets and bring them in to solve your problem rather than figuring out how to build from scratch or you know kind of sit there and kind of in my own head figuring out that actually borrow technology from other folks and then and then really your innovation is about kind of the integration in the application of leasing in trying new combinations.

[00:21:49] And I like the idea of continually kind of iterating on it obviously the product development so much is about figuring out you know every time use that you've got to sit down and say okay well what what didn't work think oh well that valve you know kept coming undone we need to kind of change the way that thing works as I I'll be great if we didn't have to like take the screen up every time. Can we just build it right in. And I think you know just having those little ideas of how do we make it easier. How do we building quality. How do we reduce risks and errors and defects as we get called.

[00:22:16] And it's interesting you say that and I'll add one more name. So I think it's really important to have like a super crazy vision from what you want. You have your products because we have some stuff that will have to be a little secretive about where we've gone with this product but we have work on some really cool things are about two years out as far as where we can go with the technology which would be more of ours. So we can build off that initial platform. But it's interesting because I feel like if you have a goal in mind of of what your crazy vision for your product or service is you will meet people along the way who will give you ideas that otherwise if you weren't thinking you're going to miss out I mean I'll give you one example. Yes all right. It is in art and said our latest design so we do what we do on ground all year round. Also in the wintertime in New York or VR you know you might get three feet of snow and it's just really call them running out. So our newest model and this is on our patent as well. It has actually room for a removable 8 inch thermal tubing was built into the wall which can connect to the heaters. And then we have really easily accessible climate controlled doors so you can seal everything off and basically have a mobile heated you know Gasana wherever you want to.

[00:23:34] So but the reason why we got inspired to do that was because we were actually yet there's actually a faster growth. And we met a guy who he does thermal heating and installs. Right. And we knew that wasn't actually wanted to go eventually without that you know who knows we might just said hey thanks but we're good.

[00:23:52] Our houses are good and it is kind of this power of the manifestation of these ideas and I think it's really important for us to sit down and think big and think long term about the psychology of it as a part of your brain called the particular activation system and it's in it and it looks for patterns right but it only works if you give it a pattern to search for it so that long term planning the big idea thinking is really about identifying the patterns that you want to be searching for of the market out out in the world so that when you're when you're networking when you're interacting with folks when you're at dinner and sometimes it's the week you least expect it to happen. That pattern hits and you see this. Oh wow. You know we were just talking about that idea of how do we create thermal conductive plastic. And then if you're at dinner and someone is mentioning you know the research that they're doing with it it only works it only works if you feed that party or brain with those patterns and that only comes about with long term planning. So I think it's it's great that you take that time or you actually engage in that kind of thinking to figure out that where do you want to be what are the big ideas because they will happen faster and probably when you least expect it to do it.

[00:25:02] Yes that's so true. Do we have time to comment on that.

[00:25:06] Yes well I think what you just said is extremely important for anyone who is in any stage of business because I can't tell you the amount of situations and places we've been to and got to where if we went in with the mindset of you mentioned manifesting but you know we we went in with the mindset of hey we don't know what this is. On paper it doesn't look impressive but this could be the best day of our lives. This could be incredible. I need somebody. And it happens. You know when that mindset is in place and when it's not you do see the opposite you get exactly what you're thinking you know. So I agree with you 100 percent and I think here it's like a golden nugget is everywhere but he could just have you know the evil in it and the fact that you make a profit out of it.

[00:25:50] I mean that you know that's that's a lot of what the admissions process is is actually doing and planting seeds so it's not it's not magic right. It is actually process very very get very unscientific. So absolutely. And we're going to hit mine here in a little bit. But I wanted to give people a chance to kind of you know if they have more questions that they'd like to contact you learn more about what you guys are doing with the simulator sums up what's the best way to get a hold of you. How can they find out more information.

[00:26:17] Yeah well our web websites really easy you can just go to golf GPB dot com and you can contact us this site any time or if you ever want to reach me directly on my e-mail says Jeff Goff GPE dot com. So we actually have a free open forum for Golf Advice 24/7 on our social media platform. So for any social media boss out there at golf GPB you can post anytime you can say hey I got this Wickett sites post a video in our Crose actually help you online or you know you say you know try to get Bruce out of the golf course. OMAR Let's say he's got 500 bucks and he's looking for new flounced but he doesn't want to go to a place he doesn't trust posted online. I got 500 our budget GPE froze. What do I do. And then we're there for you. So either through the website email or on our social media alone I can see I can see your beehive being reduced.

[00:27:09] The average handicap in the world by five strokes yet we could do that. Go figure. Go go go. Let's start with you.

[00:27:20] Bruce And that's it. I've set my goal for the year. I don't even know right now it's been a long time. You must figure it out.

[00:27:31] We'll figure it out. Let's get down to like for us to do.

[00:27:34] All right. There we go. Heard it here. We'll report and hope I'll post my handicap as I go through it. This is an excellent thank you so much for the time. Thanks for having me. This is great.

[00:27:47] He's been listening to scaling up services with Business Coach Bruce Eckfeldt to find a full list of podcast episodes. Download the tools and worksheets and other great content. This is a Web site at And don't forget to sign up for the free newsletter