This article was originally published in the September issue of Utah Golf and Travel Magazine, written by Cody Law.
The year was 2013. I was attending the annual PGA Merchandise show in Orlando, Florida. Between seminars, I like to walk the never ending aisles on the show floor to see what’s new and upcoming in the industry.
One section of the floor is always dedicated for new products and/or inventions as a way to be introduced to the golf industry. Over the years I’ve enjoyed browsing through the inventors’ section to see how creative entrepreneurs are in trying to come up with the next best idea.
However, during that specific year while browsing, I stumbled upon a new company that caught my eye. But this company was not located in the new products section. It was located near the software and point of sale section on the floor.
That’s when I met co-founder and CEO, Evan Teshima, of foreUP software. I was intrigued by the product they were presenting. foreUP was the first golf point of sale software company that was 100% cloud-based. Keep in mind that most people still didn’t even know what the term “cloud-based” meant yet. As a former Assistant Professional who used to make tee times for golf courses, I was curious how this new software would function. So I sat down and listened to the demo that Even and his team had prepared for anyone willing to stop and listen.
Upon finishing their presentation, I told them I was amazed at the product and, in my opinion, they were on the verge of revolutionizing the gold software industry. From that day forward, I have been a believer of their model and have done my best to send leads their way.
Since then, with a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, foreUP has made a huge impact in helping hundreds of golf courses become more sustainable.
I recently had a Q&A session with Evan Teshima to learn more about the rise of his company.
Q: How did you come up with the idea during your time at BYU?
We initially started out as a social media play for golf. I felt that there was a lack of competitive events and that it needed to be easier for golfers to connect with those of similar handicaps in their community. We thought that our initial idea was amazing and submitted business plans/models to BYU business competitions, in which we quickly found out that we were the only ones who thought it was a good idea. We were stubborn and continued on.
Luckily one of my teachers was over Boom Startup, a startup accelerator out of Utah, and we were accepted into the program. Through this program we were encouraged to meet with as many golf courses as we could on our idea. We literally pivoted (changed our idea) 7 times in the course of 3 months.
What really stood out to us was that most everyone complained about their POS and how antiquated it was. That really caught our interest. After doing our research, we found that every software was client server side. Meaning, if a golf course wanted a POS system, they would have to fly out a representative from that company who would install the software onto 1–2 terminals, set up a server, and then train the employees for a week on how to use that program.
On top of that, if the accountant needed a report, they would have to drive to the course, print out the report, and bring it back to the office. They would receive updates perhaps once a year to the software, which would be a project in itself to download and all the softwares looked like they were built on an excel spreadsheet. When we discovered this we thought, “Why don’t we come out with the first truly cloud-based software and disrupt the golf market like Salesforce did to the CRM market?” That’s basically how we got started and have never looked back.
Q: What year did the brainstorming start?
Q: What year did the actual business start?
Q: Were you the single founder or was it a group effort/assignment for class?
It was me and 2 other co-founders.
Q: If any, how many times did you have to pivot the business model/concept until you came up with the first completely cloud-based tee sheet system?
We pivoted 7 times in the span of 3 months to find the right model.
Q: What were. the major challenges and sacrifices that the company had to make during any lean years?
Huge sacrifices were made. We went without pay for the first 12 months and then started paying ourselves very meager salaries. When I say meager, I mean we could’ve been making more money working at a fast food joint. When we traveled for work, we always shared rooms at stayed at the bottom of the barrel places. I lived in my brother-in-law’s basement. We had to watch all of our friends go off from college and make good money with benefits at corporate jobs.
Q: What was the first major milestone?
I would say the 100th sale. It took several years to get there and was a huge grind. After putting our 100th customer, we became a more valid player in the space and it was much easier to get to our 200th, 300th, 1000th, and so on.
Q: When did you have to start offering other services besides tee sheet/POS services?
We started offering website services right away. The reason being that one of our early customers asked me if we did websites and I said yes because we needed the revenue. I then jumped on Youtube that night to figure out how to use WordPress and build websites. I built probably our first 100 course websites and then our own website which helped us stay afloat. We came out with our app store a few years back and our managed marketing services last year.
Q: Other than hard work and elbow grease, what would you attribute the growth of your company to?
Good people who care. We have really built a culture around care for the customer. We care about our clients’ success, their day to day needs, and them as individuals. We care about the success of the golf industry and support anything that promotes this wonderful game and business. When we hire, we look for those who naturally care about others and are willing to go the extra mile to solve problems.
Q: What percentage of the golf course business in the US does foreUP currently maintain?
About 12% of the market.
Q: Do you have clients in every state?
Yes we do. We just put on a course in Alaska which was the last state we were waiting on.
Q: How many clients do you currently have?
Q: When were you first approached for a buy-out by Club Essentials/Battery?
Q: With the current golf climate being hot, what are the next steps for foreUP?
Our focus is on helping golf courses run more efficiently and increase their bottom line. In the last few years we have come out with features and services like analytics, foreUP Marketing Services, pre-paid tee times, and more robust marketing tools to help golf courses understand their course health better as well as know how to market appropriately to their customers. Our next steps are to continue innovating and helping courses build predictable revenue.
Q: Will you start looking into more international clients?
Getting to Know Evan Teshima
Where are you from?
I was born in Monterey, CA but grew up most of my life in El Dorado Hills, CA.
Did you grow up playing golf?
What did you study in school?
I studied business management with an emphasis in marketing at BYU.
What do you do in your spare time?
I love golf, tennis, ping pong, and chess. Most of my spare time is either spent playing golf or with my family. My son is 8 years old and loves playing golf as well so it’s a good excuse to get out there and play.
Tell us about your family.
I have a wife and 4 kids, ages 8, 6, 2, and 0. Busy life!
For more information, visit foreUP.com