What’s the inspiration behind Golfkicks?
Most golf shoes are boring, ugly, and expensive. Before launching, we talked to hundreds of golfers of all ages and skill levels—and almost ALL of them had complaints about their kicks. We wondered: why can’t you add golf traction to your favorite sneakers? Of all the inventions and crazy ideas for companies, this was probably the silliest and the simplest.
We have been asked on multiple podcasts, ABC’s Shark Tank, and VC pitches: when did we know we had something? We knew early on because all of the people we talked to about this idea had a very strong opinion about it. It was referred to as “brilliant”, “the dumbest thing they’d ever heard”, “can’t be done”, “isn’t going to work”, “isn’t someone already doing that?”—but everybody had something to say about it.
How was Golfkicks founded? How do you work together?
The three of us have been buddies forever. We started playing around with traction prototypes and sneakers in the garage, learned enough to be dangerous, and then launched a Kickstarter campaign. About 9 months later we delivered a pretty bad first version of the product.
As a team, we have a nice balance of skill sets with very little drama, and we gladly partner with outside experts when something is out of our wheelhouse.
How do you handle risk and competition?
The company was founded on a silly idea that nobody else thought would work, so we had some time to hone the product and strengthen the brand before anyone cared. We’re on our 5th generation of product, have solid IP and manufacturing partners, and the competition is mostly kids wearing shoes without traction.
The tough part is letting people know we exist—and that’s also the fun part.
What’s been the #1 (or two) top challenges you’ve faced while launching your company?
We started with a total of zero experience in the golf industry, so we face all challenges with humility and curiosity. We made some early blunders with injection molding and quickly learned that we need the best partner on the planet for manufacturing golf spikes—which we now have. The product has evolved from a wild idea to a bad version 1, to a fantastic version 5 and a #1 bestseller on Amazon.
Have you learned anything new or surprising about yourself through this process?
We all came from entrepreneurial tech backgrounds, but there’s something different about mailing customers a physical product. They’re either going to love you or hate you, and we had plenty of both in the beginning. I (Ty) was taking every ounce of negative customer feedback personally, and quickly realized we'd better make the experience an 11 out of 10 and drop the ego fast, or this would be a long slog.
“Be yourself” has been another important lesson, and we have done that as a brand. You get a lot of conflicting opinions at different stages from friends, family, customers, investors, and industry veterans. Sticking to our guts has served us well.
Why did you decide to raise from the crowd via Republic?
One of our early investors and friends once told me that he likes to have a few beers and throw down sports bets and Republic bets. This is how we found Republic, and we didn’t need to hear much more than that.
If you could attend any concert/live recording (past or present), who would it be and why?
Beastie Boys, KB Hallen Copenhagen, Denmark in 1995. I was there and it ruled.
What is your superpower?
Turning wild ideas into useful products.`
What’s your kryptonite?
Do you have any unusual routines or habits?
We all play in a Wednesday 6 a.m. golf league. After a few years in the industry, we’re all worse at the sport!
Do you have any other hobbies/things you like to do in your spare time?
We are lucky to live in Colorado, and most weekends you can find us floating down rivers, fly fishing for trout. We’re better at that than golf.
Are there any apps or gadgets that you can’t live without?
Favorite gadget: Ecoxgear speaker—bring the jams to the golf course or the river.
Favorite app: MeMail—send an email to yourself.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Face your fears, live your dreams.
Do you have any mentors? If so, what have they taught you?
We’ve all had important mentors. If we can only pass along one lesson, it’s this: The best parts of life are not the pretty, polished ones. They’re the ones that scare the hell out of you. So make a list of what scares you the most, and start going straight at it—now.