12 years ago, I went to a few friends and asked them if they wanted to go play some golf together. I had no idea about golf, but thought it was something cool to explore. They said no, it’s an old man’s game. I pressed them on, so we finally went to the range, got some lessons, but in the end they didn’t want to continue, so I could never get on the golf course, since most golf courses didn’t allow singles.
It was super easy for me to just quit golf, and do other sports that my friends were doing. But I didn’t want to. I pushed on. I went on MyGolf.com.my, the golf forum in Malaysia at that time, and found a few golf friends, and held tightly to these guys, since without them, I wouldn’t be allowed to golf.
After every weekend of 2 rounds of golf, I find myself in the meeting room at the office on Monday, planning my next round of golf, calling friends up to secure their time early. But then I’d get responses like, “eh monday only leh, call me on thursday la”, or “eh not sure yet, let you know later”. I knew that not securing their time meant the risk of a non-golfing upcoming weekend, which was a terrifying thought.
Then I thought, I really didn’t care about playing with them, I just cared about playing. I called the discount card agent that I always booked my rounds with to see if they could pair me up, they said no. I called the golf courses to see if they could pair me, they said no too.
I got frustrated and was thinking, if there’s an Uber to look for cars, Foodpanda to look for food, Tinder to look for dates, and Airbnb to look for houses, why wasn’t there something to look for golfers?
So 5 years ago, Deemples, the idea of an Uber for golfers in Malaysia was launched. No one in Malaysia knew about it yet, I wasn’t even in Malaysia at that time. After spending 8 months in building the first ever version,
I spent my evenings after work in Singapore marketing and promoting Deemples online, getting golfers to try it, spamming every golfer that I could find online – on Facebook groups, DM-ing random golfers on Instagram, and at that time replying lotsa threads of people trying to cari golf kaki on MyGolf.com.my.
After 3 months of spamming, we got to 2500 downloads, and golfers were starting to post more games on Deemples. So I quit my job in Singapore, came back to Malaysia, and the rest is history.
30K registered users on Deemples
Today, we’ve raised 3 rounds of funds, have 20 golf courses signed up to host games and accept payments, and over 30k registered deemples users, which has generated an additional 90k rounds of golf to the golf industry in Malaysia, that wouldn’t have happened if golfers couldn’t find each other to play with.
Now all these numbers would NOT have happened without the support of golfers, golf courses, investors, golf brands, and last but not least the deemples team.
Reaching out to golfers at driving ranges
I remember in the early days when I would be heading to the driving ranges to speak with as many random golfers there as possible, to tell them about the app. I would also be joining almost every game on deemples, so I could meet the golfers that were using Deemples.
Reaching out to golf courses:
I then started reaching out to golf club managers, to share the Deemples concept and get feedback. I didn’t know anyone to begin with, because I didn’t come from the golf industry, so I just had to rock up to the front desk to ask.
When golf courses heard about Deemples, they understood the concept immediately, and started hosting games at their own golf courses diligently and consistently on Deemples. This is even before Deemples payments came about, and tons of golfers were able to join their games easily.
All this was a good 4 years ago, before Deemples payments were launched. Today, with upfront payments enabled, most golf courses here are using Deemples to secure payments early from golfers, especially for their most valuable weekend slots. Some of the golf courses are also using Deemples services for their website, allowing golfers to book and pay directly, enabling their website to now also generate revenue, even when their team is all asleep.
So thank you to all golf courses for moving the industry forward, and be a part of making golf more accessible digitally to golfers.
Aside from golf courses hosting games, some of us might have seen a few of Huey’s games, Azrin’s games, and JBGC games hosted by Kapten K’RuL on Deemples. When I say a few, I mean a lot! I know Huey Chuin organises an average of about 8 games per month at various golf courses. Azrin does roughly 2 games per month, and Kapten K’RuL does a monthly JBGC game in Johor. Without these guys growing their own communities on Deemples, the Deemples overall community would definitely be way less active. So thank you to all organisers too.
If you want to be a game host and earn a side income whilst organising games, read more *here*.
Early investors made it possible for Deemples to have life
There are so many more people that we still need to recognise. Every single golfer who installed and used Deemples, made it possible for every golf course that has come on board to ease their booking process. Before we started accepting payments and generating revenue, every fundraising round was also a miracle, that I have no idea how we pulled off, which enabled us to build, grow, fail, and learn to acquire and retain users, to achieve the sustainable golfer and golf course ecosystem we have today for the golf industry.
All this wasn’t possible, without our early investors, who parted with their hard-earned money, which they could have used to buy another house, or car, or holiday with their families, and put it into Deemples, where all they had to hold on to, was a dream I shared with them that we wanted to achieve.
Could we have promised them returns? No.
Could we have promised them results? We wish we could.
The only thing we could promise them was effort.
If they didn’t come on board, we wouldn’t have had the initial funds required to build the product, to get it to where it is today, or had the marketing budgets to acquire the users we have today, helping golfers find each other, and generating additional rounds for golf courses.
The Deemples Dream/Vision
Now, what was that dream that we shared with investors?
We currently only serve about 10% of the Malaysian golf industry, 30k registered Deemples users out of the entire 300k golfers in Malaysia. That means another 90% of golfers are ONLY golfing whenever their friends can make it. If their friends are busy, then these golfers won’t be playing golf, which presents a risk to the golfing industry.
When these golfers can’t play golf, they won’t be happy, and golf courses won’t be happy either. If this happens for an extended period of time, we’ve seen golfers drop out of the game completely, which then affects all other aspects of the golf industry – equipment, apparel, coaching, fitting, driving ranges, golf media and events.
Golf is a social game, and whilst you can play alone, it’s very similar to going to the movies – you can go alone, but if your friends can’t make it, chances are you won’t go too. Earlier in my address I mentioned that if there’s a Uber and Grab for everything, why isn’t there something like this for golf?
So the goal is to serve golfers all around the world. One day, we hope that you as a golfer can look for a game anywhere in the world, join in, chat with other golfers in that game, pay for that game, and then rock up and meet these cool people. Deemples aims to deliver that online-to-offline experience that platforms like AirBnb, Uber, Tinder already does, but for golf.
The golf market is not that big, only 60M golfers in the world, playing across 30k golf courses. Compared to the entire hotel industry behemoth of 700k hotels in the world, the golf industry is only less than 5% of that, with way less competition trying to achieve the same goals.
So on the grander scheme of things, this looks very much achievable, but not if we don’t all work together, to make it work for all of us.
The dedicated Deemples team:
The last group of people I definitely want to thank is the Deemples team and their families. Over the years we’ve had the pleasure of working with 25 different talented people across various different disciplines, from marketing, to engineering, to design, to product, and customer service. The current team is at 4 now, and we’re always looking to grow. If you’re looking for something to do in golf, check out our *Indeed page*
Without their sacrifices, hard work, and dedication on delivering the best work, and their family’s support in allowing them to work in a risky startup, we too would have no today.
5 years ago, Deemples didn’t exist.
5 years later now, we’ve had the privilege of working and playing golf with so many golfers, and we look forward to working even closer in the years to come, to grow the golf industry in Malaysia, together.
– David Wong, Founder of Deemples