Chief Operating Officer
Interview with Matt Ward
Michigan native, Michael Brown brings a diverse industry background — banking/mortgage industries, large scale computing, telecommunications, software startup — to his ever-evolving role as key leader for V1 Sports, and Galway Bay — both investments of the sports technology venture capital fund: Opportunity Seed Capital.
With a dual degree from Michigan State University in finance and international relations and a Master of Science in Finance from Walsh College, Brown’s journey has been marked by ever-progressive steps in his professional development.
After kickstarting his career within the financial services and commercial lending arena, Brown landed at Compuware, where he supported the information technology giant’s large enterprise sales team in deal origination, negotiations, and revenue booking.
At ProtectCell, Brown began as a sales analyst but quickly moved to Director, Sales Operations, empowering a top-line revenue increase of 66% in less than three years. He forayed into startups, founding TrackLeft, a boot-strapped innovative digital playbook solution for the sales training industry. Moving to V1 in 2017, he retooled the company’s sales process, and then took over operations.
THE BROWN STORY:
“There is no challenge that cannot be overcome with data, a logical plan, a contingency blueprint, and hard work.” And I live that mantra, every day. Managing complex, high potential startups through their second stage is my passion.
That mission requires versatility, perseverance, an emphasis on process, and consistency. And for me, it also means constantly operating as a servant leader, attentively listening, and practicing kindness with every team member, partner, and customer.
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
Make incremental steps in growing and optimizing the company. That focus has put the company in a nice position to take larger leaps in 2022.
What was the genesis for Galway Bay and how was the name chosen for the company?
It started with wanting to create a better pair of rain pants that weren’t noisy and uncomfortable. As for the name, we were looking for a way to describe the toughest weather elements and Galway Bay, Ireland sees some of the worst weather.
What distinguishes Galway Bay from those in the same category?
Comfort, stretch, breathability, small details. And from pricing perspective, we sit nicely between kjus/galvin green and footjoy/zero.
How has the company fared during the pandemic?
We started out slow in March of 2020 and flatlined for a few months, but we started to see a nice trend at the end of the year. When comparing the same time period — thru July — year over year, we’re seeing over 100% improvement,
From a sales perspective what is the approximate percentage of your efforts via the following categories: green grass shops, brick and mortar retail outlets and online?
Pre-Covid, we were focused on certain green grass locations to help support the brand, so roughly 90-95% of our business was from online sales. Today, we’re 95%+ online.
Many companies opt to recruit top golf professionals to provide endorsements of their products. What’s the approach at Galway Bay?
We’re not there yet as a company and I’m not sure that’s how we’ll grow the brand, time will tell. We’ve organically created a group of supporters and customers that have helped spread the word and we’re grateful for those customers who love the gear. There might be a day when we find a like minded partner to help us take those larger leaps.
Companies routinely tout the importance of customer service. Define the term and the approach you follow at Galway Bay?
Customer service can cover a lot of areas for us: the ways in which they can reach us — phone, e-mail — the packaging of the gear, replying to feedback emails, or delivering purchases in a timely fashion. Can we be better? Always. And to be better, we need feedback from our customer base.
If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally — what would it be and why?
I don’t know if I have an answer for you, but it makes me think about how I would love to see more young kids caddy one summer growing up. I spent many summers as a caddy and on staff at a local course and the biggest benefit was the development of my social skills with adults — and I got to learn the game of golf, which pays dividends for a long time. Maybe it can be a required high school class.– think Advanced Placement Golf.
Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?
I’m not sure it was advice, but it was probably more of a strong suggestion. Years back, I was encouraged to take my learnings and experiences to become an entrepreneur. That nudge took me down a path to where I am today.
The biggest challenges facing Galway Bay — short and long term — is what?
Continue to navigate the global issues driven by Covid in the short term. Also in the short term, satisfy the demand of our customer base and the market. Long term — finding new and interesting ways to help our customer base battle the elements on the golf course, watching their kid play soccer, or running from the car into the office.
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