A ‘PUT’ in the right direction

YourNest-funded GolfLan is keen on making the game of Golf accessible and affordable for individual golfers and corporates across India, Middle East, South West Asia, United States and South Africa 

Dhruv Verma, Founder and CEO, GolfLan

Golfing is like mediation and most of the keen golfers will agree with this. Living in a houseful of golfers myself, where golf conversations happen on daily basis, a venture like GolfLan caught my interest and I immediately reached out to Dhruv Verma, its founder.

With 12 years of work experience in the corporate world, largely in the banking sector, entrepreneurship was something that came naturally to Dhruv at a very young age. Talking about his journey, he  says, “It is like the whole nine yards of entrepreneurship. I sold my house and everything else I had, to become an entrepreneur. The journey has been brilliant and I would love to repeat it if given a chance.”

A keen golfer himself, Verma, who was then working as the Head of Strategy at Aircel India, got the idea to set up his company when he was playing in Scotland in 2010.  “There is no common platform in this part of the world where you can aggregate the entire event and market it,” states Verma. The idea turned into a venture in March 2013 when he became his own boss and set up GolfLan, a global company that offers technology-based solutions for promoting Golf as a sport and leisure.The company’s goal is to make golf as a sport more accessible and affordable to golfers, while helping all golf clubs/ courses to increase utilization and revenue.

With over 6 lakh golf bookings processed in a year, GolfLan expects to close this fiscal ending March 2018 with revenues of Rs. 20 crore.  On the funding front, it has raised two rounds of funding so far; a 2015 round of US$1 million from YourNest Angel Fund and multiple angel investors, and, a year later, another round of US $1 million from ISON, an Africa-based information technology group, and existing investor YourNest Angel Fund. The funds from the current round, points out Dhruv, will be used to expand in overseas markets such as Africa, Middle East, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. In fact, GolfLan is also in the process of raising another US $1.2 million, of which US $500,000 has already been raised from a Dubai based HNI. The funds will be used for further technological upgrades and geographical expansion.


GolfLan focuses on three aspects; corporate aggregation through TeePass™ & Corporate Golf Solutions, retailing, which it does through GolfGreedy.com, and golf carrt fleet management, which it does through StayPrime


Marking your spot

Headquartered in New Delhi, GolfLAN has offices across UAE, Singapore and North America, with distributors, affiliates and strategic partnerships located in North America, Europe, the UK, Middle East, Africa and Asia. The company works with over 1,000 golf courses and processes over 1,200,000 golf rounds across its business verticals. 

Specifically, it does three things; first is corporate aggregation through TeePass™ & Corporate Golf Solutions, a global golf pass which allows golfers to play golf games at 4,000+ courses across 45+ plus countries. “Today, corporates want customers to be given benefits and golf is one of the premium benefits that most of the brands want to offer to them,” adds Verma. To capitalise on this, GolfLan has signed up to be the official golf concierge partner for several corproates, including Standard Chartered Bank, Diners Club International, Development Bank of Singapore, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank, RAKBANK, Mashreq Bank, Emirates National Bank of Dubai, ABank and Union Pay.

The second division is the retail business, which is offered through GolfGreedy.com, a mobile-friendly web application that GolfLan acquired in 2016 in Singapore. The golfers can search tee times from thousands of golf courses around the globe, book instantly, and play. It has over 5,000 golf courses from which one can choose a game. “It is like BookMyShow for golf where one doesn’t have to be a member but just get one round of golf and be done with it,” states Verma.

The third division is the SaaS business that it offers through StayPrime, a golf cart fleet management system. StayPrime GPS can be deployed on any course, on any cart, anywhere in the world. “This helps in improving the efficiency of the golf course,” adds the founder. It provides golf course owners, managers and golf directors gain full control over their fleet of golf carts, and, at the same time, gives the golfer easy-to-use information and features that enhance the golfing experience. “While we cater to three different aspects of golfing,  the common element is the golf course. Our key supplier of rounds is golf course, so the idea is to make our relationship better with them,” says he.

Taking it to the market

A company that has serviced 200,000+ golfers, GolfLan has a complete 360 degree marketing strategy. It particularly spends a lot of time and energy on the digital front. “We build partnerships. I am a person who believes marketing should be done via partnerships,” says he. Going forward, the company has a big budget to get into more international partnerships and enter trade shows. It plans to showcase itself in the PGA Tour, the biggest golf show that takes place in the US.

Growth path

“We have grown almost 300 per cent year-on-year in terms of revenue,” says Verma. This apart, the company’s team size has also grown from a five member to a 45 member team since its early days.  In terms of market presence, GolfLAN started with India and now has a presence in six geographies.  Its business model has also evolved since inception. “We started as an aggregation company, then we added the corporate business, retail booking and SaaS divisions,” says he. As a part of its expansion plans, it has also acquired three companies in the last four years, the recent one being Golf Centra. Golf Centra is a deep tech app which aims to revolutionise the way golf courses manage their inventory. GolfLan plans to invest over half a million dollars on this application and introduce the same in all its markets. All the bookings of the golf courses will be powered by the application serving potentially 10 million+ golfers and handling 3 million+ transactions every month.  “The acquisition of Golf Centra will help us stay ahead of global competitors by over 18 months and generate over US $5 million in revenues in the next 12 months,” says Verma. In the next four years, GolfLAN plans to acquire another 10 companies in different domains. 

It aims to end the 2020 fiscal with a revenue target of US $20 million. This will be fuelled by its acquisitions and also, its entry into new markets. It plans to add one new county every year, the next one being Australia.

Staying ahead in times, trusting your gut, being open to risks, understanding international businesses, and more importantly, networking are some critical success factors for GolfLan. “I spend a lot of time travelling and I have been doing it for three years now. That’s what keeps us ahead  in the market,” says Verma, on a concluding note.


Snapshot

GolfLan

Founder: Dhruv Verma

Year: 2013

City: New Delhi

Investors: Africa-based ISON, YourNest Angel Fund and other angel investors

Concept: Offers technology-based solutions for promoting Golf as a sport and leisure. The goal is to make it more accessible and affordable to golfers, and help golf clubs/ courses increase utilization and revenue.