Eddy Lui, Founder and CEO of 18Birdies, is a self-described gadget geek who given the chance, would spend a couple years in the wilderness just to be amazed by all the new technology upon his return. After 20 years of successfully building and growing technology startups, he combined his business experience with his passion for golf and founded 18Birdies. Today, Eddy is the visionary and driving force behind 18Birdies, the mobile golf platform that enhances the experience between golfers and the courses they love to play through technology, social and gaming.
THE LUI STORY —
Eddy Lui founded mobile golf technology company 18Birdies in 2011 after a successful career building and growing technology startups.
The platform is one of the fastest-growing tech companies in golf, seeking to enhance the experience between golfers and the courses they play through technology, social engagement and gaming. The 18Birdies community has doubled in the past year and is now up to 1.5 million users, comprising a growing chunk of the almost 24 million on-course golfers in the U.S.
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
I want more people to experience the joy of golf. I believe the technology we’re developing will fundamentally help golfers play better – and make golf a more accessible and enjoyable sport than ever before.
What was the genesis for 18Birdies?
I started 18Birdies, because I wanted to make golf more fun for myself and my friends – and in many ways it’s still our “North Star” today. Back then it was about betting games and competition – and now we’ve come to understand that in order for golf to be fun – for all kinds of golfers – people need to be able to really enjoy playing it. For us, this means giving people the best tools so that they can feel more capable and more successful when they’re out on the course.
How long in development from concept idea to actual product implementation for consumer usage?
It really varies. We have an amazing product and engineering team that’s capable of turning around smaller product improvements in a matter of weeks or months. With that said, what I consider our most impactful innovations may have been in the works for a few years.
How does 18Birdies differ from your competition?
We’re more than your average golf app! We’ve spent a lot of time perfecting the basics of what consumers think of as a “golf app”, distance and yardages, the ability to keep score on a digital scorecard – we’re now moving beyond that by focusing in on solving problems that can hinder people’s ability to play better golf. And that’s helping golfers truly improve their abilities and skills through the use of technology.
Who is your typical customer?
Our typical user is an avid golfer who is playing golf a few times of month, family and work schedules withstanding. Of course, we want to reach even more golfers, including beginners – and I believe we are laying the foundation right now to better service that customer.
What future product innovations do you see happening via 18Birdies?
Our team is really excited about using AI technology to help golfers improve their game, using simply their smartphone/watch. Looking forward, we are exploring AI/Voice/Automation product innovations that will help golfers collect data when they’re playing on the course and when they’re just out practicing.
How does golf get more Millennials into playing actual golf?
This is a great question and one that I get asked a lot. The good news, is that we’re already seeing more Millennials getting interested in golf, because of other great golf companies, like TopGolf, who are also in the business of making golf more fun, accessible and bringing people together to enjoy it. Ultimately, it’s about getting younger people more exposed to golf, giving them the chance to try it out and then making it easier for them to play and enjoy.
Time is a major factor for many people to play traditional golf — how does 18Birdies spur people on to play more golf?
That’s a tough one, but I think it’s about making the time that people choose to spend on the course worth it. So instead of feeling bad about spending time away from their other obligations, golf is something that people do to enrich their lives – much like exercise or yoga. There are other ways to tackle this, as well, like making shorter golf outings and events more regularly available to golfers.
If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally what would it be and why?
More night golf – more courses with lights for playing after dark. Not only does it extend the hours for golfers to play, but it’s just an incredibly fun experience that offers people another way to socialize after typical work hours. I also love the idea of smart golf clubs. Instead of 14 clubs in the bag, make it 3 clubs that can be easily adjusted on the fly for different distance/functional needs. Less is more!
Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?
Always make sure there is a clear and compelling long-term vision, and at the same time have a clear focus and focal-point for the next step.
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