Vulcan Post

This M’sian Couldn’t Find Buddies To Golf With—So He Made An App To Fix That

Golf—the mere mention of the sport brings with it imagery of sprawling lush greens, beautiful locales, and the perception of it being an activity for individuals with more money and time than they know what to do with.

No matter how we spin it, the idea of playing golf—to the overwhelming majority at the very least—isn’t something people feel like they have the time, money, or skills for.

34-year-old David Wong of Deemples feels that this perception is misguided, and thinks that there are too few golfers in Malaysia because of it.

“Admittedly, golfing isn’t very accessible because it requires more time and money than other sports, and we aren’t exposed to it in school,” he said. “And people think of it as a very ‘atas’ sport.”

David—who began golfing at the age of 25—founded Deemples in 2015 with the aim of connecting golfers in Malaysia through an online matchmaking platform.

Image Credit: Deemples

“As we grew older, my friends would start bailing on our golf matches due to their own commitments,” he explained. “And with there not being enough golfers in Malaysia, finding people for a game became tough.”

Teeing Off

Currently, the Deemples platform (officially launched in 2016) runs on a free app that is available for both iOS and Android. The app works simply by getting users to sign up for an account, and then providing them with the ability to create golf matches.

“When I was looking for buddies to play with, I found that there were two barriers that prevented people from getting into golf—money and friends,” David said. “Now while we can’t help people out with the money bit—I mean get a job if you have to—we can certainly help people out with the friends bit.”

“If we remove one half of the barriers, golfers only then need to take care of the other half, and they can play wherever, whenever.”

Users can select different game types (single-flight, multi-flight, and driving range), pick out golf courses from around Malaysia, and allot a certain number of players for each match. And it all comes for free.

The Deemples app in action / Image Credit: Deemples

“The way we golfers organise games right now is very disorganised,” David added. “Deemples makes the whole process very easy and straightforward.”

“We also want to get more new people playing golf, and through the app, new golfers will find a community that is willing to help and welcome them to the sport.”

Par For The Course

The Deemples platform was conceptualised and built by David and three other team members (including two software engineers and a creative designer) with a capital of RM30k, and to date has seen around 6.5k total downloads since launching in 2016.

And while the app isn’t currently turning a profit, they hope first to grow their user base through leveraging on the opportunities that their app creates for all parties involved.

“As long as more people are playing golf, everyone benefits—the golf courses, the equipment manufacturers, and most importantly the players themselves,” David explained. “Since our app does exactly that, we’re receiving full support from all directions.”

David hopes that Deemples’ user base will continue to grow at a healthy rate, and expects to see as much as a 1,000% increase in users within 2018.

Image Credit: Deemples

“We hope to also expand to the rest of Southeast Asia as well as Australia and New Zealand by the end of this year,” he said.

With plans to monetise the service only later on in the life cycle, David admitted to the slow-moving nature of such a service—with it also being the reason why there have been so few other similar services on the market.

“No one wants to do this because it can’t be monetised immediately,” he said. “There is no money to be made from just matching golfers.”

With the closest competitor attempting the same sort of service being GolfMatch in the USA (with some smaller services located in the UK and Australia), Deemples are now the only service that links golfers together in the SEA region—something they hope to take full advantage of.

“It’s a long game that does not fit the short term investor profile, but one that solves a fundamental problem in golf which will then allow multiple streams of revenue in the next couple of years.”

The plans for Deemples to start generating profit will begin in 2019 through collaborations with various tee time partners and advertisers, and there is also the possibility of licensing the back-end portion of the service to other sports businesses (but Deemples will continue to solely focus on golf).

Lessons From The Green

Having watched Deemples grow from nothing more than an idea into a proper functioning service, David is proud to have seen some milestone moments for his growing platform.

The includes the official launch of Deemples that happened earlier this month, the running of a whole golf tournament through the Deemples app last week, and having some high profile golfers (who wish to be kept anonymous) also use the service.

And through it all, David has also learned some important lessons about building a service.

“You’ll get a lot of feedback and advice,” he said. “And while more brains work better than one, too many chefs spoil the soup.”

He stressed the importance of knowing what to focus on, and what to ignore, and noted a heavy reliance on gut feeling when first starting out.

The Deemples team with David at far right / Image Credit: Deemples

“There are risks and rewards for every action you take, but the good thing is that you can always pick yourself up after making a mistake and turn it the other way round.”

Right now, the Deemples team are still learning many things about building a service, and David commented on the continuous challenge of balancing time and resources.

“We haven’t overcome it yet, and probably will never,” he said. “But we’re constantly learning that we’re never going to be able to do everything we want to do.”

“So pick and choose and prioritise what’s important in helping you achieve your main objectives, the rest are secondary.”

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Feature Image Credit: Deemples