28 Sep Deemples Interview on BFM Radio with Arvindh Yuvaraj
Where Arvindh Yuvaraj from BFM speaks with David Wong the CEO of the Deemples golf app, on how Deemples has used technology and new marketing strategies to help golf courses be more efficient, increase yields, whilst creating a better experience for golfers to golf more.
Listen to the full interview on BFM89.9 Radio here.
This article is for the people who love to read and wants to know more about our journey & future plans.🙂
Arvindh: David, thanks for joining us today.
David: Thank you!
Arvindh: So this isn’t your first time at this station. You had a chat with us back in March 2019. So more than a year now, obviously, a lot has changed. So you know, how has dimples grown and changed in the last one and a half years? You know, can you give us a brief overview of what’s new.
David: I think a lot has changed since then. So at that time, we were still pre-revenue. And I think that would be a big milestone, from a pre-revenue stage startup to post revenue stage startup.
So initially, the idea is all about just helping golfers find each other. So golfers would just post a game and another golfer would just come in and join in, and they’ll go on their merry way and play some golf.
But after doing this for about three years, the end of last year, so after the last BFM interview, we started to monetize. so golf courses will always say, hey, how can we help them accept payments upfront because a lot of golfers were making bookings, just like how you would make a booking with the restaurant. And if you don’t show up, then you don’t show up.
But if you don’t show up to the golf course, and they booked the slots for you, then you know, the golf course will lose some revenue. So that’s where we were thinking, well, since everybody’s already kind of like joining games at a specific club on Deemples, we thought to just build that function in for the golf courses.
So now today, golf courses can just key in the amount that they want to accept from golfers. And then golfers can just pay and they get the money upfront. So that’s the biggest difference, I would say, between what we’ve done last year and today.
Arvindh: Yeah, and I’m guessing like a big chunk of that time has been taken up by the pandemic, right. So obviously, people couldn’t go golfing during the MCO. How did that impact Deemples? How did it impact the golfing industry as a whole?
David: Well, actually, it didn’t just hit the golf industry, right.
So we were very fortunate that the lockdown for the golf industry only lasted for a month and a half. But of course, during that month and a half was a lot of uncertainty. We never knew that was going to open up again in a month and a half. It could go on for the year, or maybe two years. We had no idea, right?
Until today. You can see some other countries like Singapore open much later. I think they open in about two-three months’ time. Philippines until today is closed, Australia is kind of open but Melbourne until today is to completely lockdown. So it varies across different markets.
But for Malaysia, we open in a month and a half. So during that time when it was locked down, of course, nobody could play golf. Golfers are getting frustrated, golf courses were you know, not being maintained. And everybody was just watching home videos of golfing at home and just like doing whatever they can to fill that void.
But very quickly after that, once it opened up, it was a relief for a lot of people and the golf industry has never been better. People just going out. Non-golfers are getting into the game as well because they can’t do a lot of other sports now that have close contact. So they get into the sport now as well because you know they didn’t want to go into like a spinning class or like something with a lot of close contacts, martial arts or stuff like that. So yeah, golf has been all-time high.
Arvindh: Nice. Could you tell us about, how tech platforms like Deemples are helping golf courses in this post-pandemic world?
David: So, I guess, the technology always was there to help. It was whether or not the golf courses wanted to change or not. So like all industries, I think the pandemic actually accelerated this digital adoption, supply was always the same, but because demand is getting more and more, the golf courses had to kind of control the inventory a lot better and make sure all the inventory, which is golf tee times are fully monetized.
And now Deemples, helping with the online payments, and you know, upfront payments, that risk for the golf course have significantly reduced. So now even before the day comes, the golf courses have already accepted payments upfront. So if the golfers don’t come, they don’t come in, and it’s fine. That’s one thing.
And the other thing is also, we used to have a lot of cash transactions over the counter. But now if everything is already done upfront, there’s less contact. So in a way, it’s kind of like contactless payment, not in a sense, where you, you know, you scan a barcode at the counter, but you kind of pay even before you get there. So nothing really crosses over the counter, today.
Arvindh: I guess like tech platforms also help golf courses, find new clients and tap into a more digital market, right?
David: Yeah. Well, I mean, like everything, basically, more and more people are on tech platforms right now. The reason this wouldn’t work 10 years ago, is because a lot of people were less digital-savvy. And now I mean, if everybody can get a car from their phone or get food delivered to the house from a phone, why can’t they just book a tee time or get people to play golf with on their phones? So yeah.
Arvindh: what did you do as a company during the MCO, although I mean, because it needs the app to be utilized to sort of stay active. And then you mentioned that there was a one and a half months of downtime? What did Deemples do during that downtime, like plan growth strategies or plan to do what’s next?
David: Honestly, we had no idea what to do. And it was tough to plan because we didn’t know what this was gonna be two months, three months, a year, two years, right? All you know, golf might be shut down for the next five years. Who knows? Right? If it was like the Spanish flu.
So what we were thinking like, okay, we can’t plan for the future. But what we can do is maybe do something now. And it really wasn’t like the best plan, but it was like, well, we have to kind of do something. So the only thing in golf that was still doing very well was people buying a lot of home kits.
So because of that, we thought, Hey, we had the idea to set up a marketplace, a Deemples marketplace where people can kind of buy and sell equipment, much, later on, you know, like phase four in the Deemples business, which was like maybe a few years down the road. But we thought, hey, why don’t we just bring this forward?
Not really a marketplace, we just set up the Deemples golf store. And it’s not like we have the supply. So we work with a lot of partners to say, hey, since there’s a lot of traffic on the Deemples website anyway, and there’s a lot of traffic on the Deemples app, why don’t we just build this and you can kind of like, you know, push your products, and we’ll help you push your product as well. So that’s what we did. That was the only thing that we could do.
Arvindh: You’re looking at crowdfunding now to raise funds to expand the business, right? So why choose crowdfunding instead of like, the old school way of getting funding, you know, investments and stuff? Why opt for that concept?
David: So honestly, it doesn’t really matter how we get funds, once we get funds to survive, right? So previously, we’ve raised two rounds before, and those were all private placements, angel investors, people that just, you know, invested directly into the company, it wasn’t a crowdfunding strategy.
This time around. And a few reasons came to this. One is because we thought, hey, we’ve been doing this for like, three, four years now. And if we did crowdfunding early in the days, there’s not a lot of users that we can reach out to. But today, we have about 25,000 users on the app.
And without them, we wouldn’t be able to get to where we are today. And how all these golfers play more golf, get more golfers on board. So I thought it was kind of only fair if we kind of let them have the opportunity to ride in with the business as well, so if we did succeed in the future, they would have a benefit at the same time. So that’s one reason and we really wanted to let golfers have an opportunity to buy into the company.
The second reason is the government. The Malaysian government is actually having this thing called MyCIF, which is the Malaysia Co-Investment Fund. Which is helping startups during this pandemic, where they would co-invest up to 50% of the amount that you’re able to raise. So that’s one of the big reasons why we did it through crowdfunding because only through crowdfunding this massive program came into play. They matched it like they will give one ringgit for every target invested. So if we raise a million bucks, they will give half a million.
Arvindh: I see. Okay, and what are you planning on using the funds for and the company? I mean, immediate use?
David: Yeah, so there’s a lot of things that we want to do, right. But just for this round, right away, we realized that while we’ve actually taken care of the booking platform, and even helping golfers find each other, the process wasn’t still complete, because we haven’t included the supply management side of things. So golfers can book easily, golfers can find that easily.
But the golf courses are having trouble allocating different slots for different people because their inventory management solutions are pretty dated. And because of that, that kind of disrupts the flow. So we thought the only thing that we need to solve in this to make this flow complete is to help the golf courses, you know, upgrade their technology.
We’ve spoken to a few golf courses we’ve understood, we’ve tried to understand if this is actually a pain point for them, and they say yes, and that’s why they have to rely on a lot of human resources to manually you know, pick up the phone, hey, you want this booking you want that booking or you know. If all that can be done automatically, the same way as how people buy movie tickets, or airline tickets, then the process would be a lot seamless for golfers and golf courses. So that’s what we’re planning to do.
Arvindh: We are going to take a quick break to get some messages in but stick around more from David and his golfing app Deemples when we come back to BFM 89.9.
Deemples and its CEO David Wong – On today’s open for business. I am Arvind Mirage. And we are talking about introducing a more tech-based solution to a quote-unquote, traditional spot, and crowdfunding Deemples‘ next growth phase.
So I want to ask, and I have to ask, and I’m sorry, this is like slightly offensive, but it’s I’m genuinely curious. You know, golf is normally seen as a more traditional sport or more mature person, sport. And deemples is a tech-driven platform. And normally those things are associated with a younger demographic. So when you study the market, did you find that this was an untapped segment that no one is looking at? Or did you decide to introduce a more tech-savvy way into the golfing scene? And by that get a younger demographic in?
David: Wow, okay, great. That’s a lot of questions type to that.
I think when we started this, it was really to solve David Wong’s problem, my own problem. I have been playing golf about 10 years now. And, you know, over the years, I’ve managed to make a lot of friends that do play golf as well. But it’s organizing golf games, there’s always the pain.
So I would be, you know, asking for it. You want to play, you want to play? And they’ll be like, yeah, I’m not sure yet. You know, I’ll let you know later. No, but you don’t let me know later. Because let me know later and then, you know, the tee times are booked up. So that was my pain, because I wanted to play golf. I had the money to play golf, couldn’t find the people to play golf.
So I wanted to solve this problem. So yes, I saw technologies built for, you know, all the other industries, like why not those technologies were built for the golf industry as well. And, that’s why we built the platform. Right.
The other part of your question was, it is yes, very blatantly, a lot of people think about it as an all old people game. Rich people game, right. And yes, and no, I guess, right. If you want to say it’s old people’s game. Yeah. I mean, the old people play, you know, quite a bit. The young people play golf, too. I’ll give you interesting statistics. In the PGA Tour, like the best golfers in the world, 7 of the top 10 of them are 30 years old and below.
Arvindh: Under 30. Okay, okay.
David: All right. So are you saying that’s, you know, an old man’s game? No, old people are not in you know, the top 10 Yeah. In terms of being rich game, oh, yeah. I mean, relatively is more expensive than other sports because it requires a lot of land and stuff like that, right?
Just to give you context on how much golf would cost us, I mean, 99% of Malaysians are not golfers. So they might not know, you know what the price? Why don’t I ask you this? How much do you think a game of golf costs?
Arvindh: Oh, see, that’s the thing. That’s exactly why I came into that question, because I am completely clueless. And again, so I’m not saying that golf doesn’t have any tech, obviously, it does. But, you know, some sports are considered more traditional than others is what I’m saying.
So when I was trying to think about, you know, how much would I pay? Like, how much would I have to pay to get into a game of golf? I was like, completely clueless. I’m like, I have zero idea. We have a couple of colleagues here who do play, but I wanted to sort of save the suspense for you because I didn’t want to know for myself.
David: Okay. So on average around in Malaysia, will cost somewhere about 120rm for 18 holes. So that takes you about four or five hours to complete the game. Okay. And that kind of activity, right? Of course, you have the expensive one. So if you talk about like, you know, expensive golf courses like Tropicana, Saujana, TPC, you know, those range up to like, you know, 300 – 400 RM for a round of golf, but you also have the more affordable golf courses, you know, the public golf courses, Kinrara, Monterez, Danau golf club, you know, they sometimes range under 100 ringgit for a game of golf.
Now, not everybody gets to the golf course right away, and you don’t right, you get to the driving range first. And the driving range, you’ve seen a few around – 100 balls cost about 12 RM. So that’s where you practice. So not when you play a full 18 round at a whole game. You just go and hit balls at the driving range. And yeah, that costs you less than a movie ticket. But to practice. So yes, you’re right is relatively more expensive than badminton or football or basketball or stuff like that. Right? But not super crazy, like motorsports or, horseback riding or any of the other fancier stuff. Yeah.
Arvindh: yeah, yeah. Do you think there’s a friction though, when trying to get into? Because you mentioned just now, you know, why? why are people not building tech for certain industry? So is there friction trying to get into an industry that traditionally wouldn’t have used an app like this?
And I’m asking because most specifically, over the last few weeks, I’ve seen people, all age segments actually, like when they go to scan the QR codes. Some of them prefer to write their names in the logbooks, right, even though there is an app. So there is a choice that some people like to use App, some people don’t like to use apps. And it’s just I sort of connected with Deemples. And I was wondering, like, Is it difficult to get into that segment?
David: It’s always difficult, right? When anything is a habit change of it, they always requires, you know, action to be taken. So yes, it’s always difficult. How do you change the habit from you know, calling the golf club up to book a tee time or like, you know, WhatsApping friends to just using an app and getting it done? Right. Like you said, Now, the QR code adoption is so high because of MySejahtera. You have to scan everywhere you go, right? I mean.
Yeah, well, what some people choose to do. And it’s really up to them. So I think this brings me back to the earlier question you had right? Like, do the young people only use it or the old people don’t use it? If you ask me, it is really a mentality thing. So I’ll give you a few examples. I’ve seen older uncle’s, to use deemples. And I’m very surprised as well. Of course, there’s not as much of them as you know, the 20 to 40 year old’s. But I’ve seen like a 65 to 70 year old use deemples and and I’ll ask him, I’m like, hey, wow. Like, you know how to use this. Then I Yeah. What’s so hard? Like? You use other stuff, too? Yeah, I use WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, everything like Oh, okay.
And then I have friends as well in the 30s. And they’ll be like, hey, do you want to play golf? I can’t play but you can just use the deemples. And they will be like, ah, too much technology for me. So it’s not an age thing if you ask me, it’s a mentality thing.
Arvindh: So David, what kinds of challenges are you facing at the moment with deemples? Besides all the other stuff that we just spoke about? Besides more MCO related things? What are the challenges are you facing?
David: I guess the challenges are always ongoing, right? The supply and the demand side. The demand side means golfers’ adoption. There are challenges on the supply side, which is golf course adoption as well. So both these has to go at the same time, right? The golf courses, help golf golfers get on board, the golfers have to have more incentive to get on board. So these are the same things that you know the grabs & the gojeks of the world face every day as well.
You know, how do we incentivize people to get onto the app? And once they get onto the app, how do you incentivize them to continue using the app with different rewards or you know, loyalty. Or just being a good product. And this is something that it’s a continuous thing.
Arvindh: Okay, last question, David. What about your expansion plans, like everyone’s expansion plans are sort of changed this year? All the plans that they had in January as sort of like out the window? What are you looking at an end? How are you looking to grow the company?
David: Yeah, you’re absolutely right. I mean, like before this, our plans was to, like grow the world before even monetizing, but these days in this investment landscape is not happening anymore. So we realized that during MCU, as well, we said, okay, let’s double down on revenue. So what we’re gonna do so we will live in a few countries, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Brunei, and also just the City of Melbourne. But now we are really refocusing our attention just purely here in home ground in Malaysia to get revenue up so that we can be sustainable. And if any new investment comes in, it was it was it will be for growth, and not for survival. So purely on revenue now.
Arvindh: David, thanks so much for your time.
David: No, thank you!
To listen to the full Podcast, check it out here: https://www.bfm.my/podcast/enterprise/open-for-business/ent-ofb-golf-and-growth-post-mco