David Hunter, CEO of Shot Scope Technologies
David Hunter is the founder and CEO of Shot Scope Technologies, a wearable technology company that is revolutionizing how golfers collect performance data. The Shot Scope system is comprised of a wristband and set of 20 tags and is the first fully automated performance tracking system for golf. Since launching in September 2016 Shot Scope has been used on the European Tour and Ladies European Tour, has been sold into 27 countries worldwide and is currently being rolled out to pro shops in the UK and USA.
THE HUNTER STORY —
I have always been passionate about sport, and being involved in competitive sport, from an early age. For ten years as a child I competed in Tae Kwon-Do, reaching a second degree black-belt and going on to represent the Scottish team worldwide. This passion for sport continued while I was at university where I played for the Herriot-Watt University soccer team. At 20 I fell in love with golf. I had been playing for years with friends on and off but it wasn’t until I joined a club that I realized this was the sport for me.
Very quickly I committed myself to improving my golf game. My engineering approach was to gather statistics and my sporting background taught me to work hard to get results – when the two were combined I improved very quickly. Within 18 months I had reduced my 15 handicap to a five. For the next ten years I played golf around my career as an engineer, competing around Scotland and making time for golf whenever I could. I couldn’t get enough.
Prior to founding Shot Scope I built my career in engineering, I hold an HND, BEng and MSc in electronics engineering from Heriot Watt and Edinburgh University and worked as an electronics design engineer for 8 years, designing technology for the medical, military and industrial markets. This experience meant that I really understood where I could take my own ideas and gave me the freedom to explore their potential. The next move in my career was into teaching, where I relished the opportunity to educate the next generation. Working with young adults to develop their ideas and provide them with the skills to build their own careers was hugely rewarding. I taught in schools throughout the country and was inspired by colleagues and students alike. Being surrounded by learning proved to be the ideal environment for entrepreneurial thinking and acted as an incubator for my own ideas.
I’ve always had a love for technology and creating innovative solutions for problems. For a long time I dreamt about combining my passions in technology and sport. After years of collecting my own golfing data I knew I could develop a better way, and so Shot Scope was born. I remember writing my idea down on three pieces of paper and being instantly excited by the prospects. Once I sat back and looked at it I could see how much potential there was and I started working on developing the technology straight away.
Three years on and I still get excited every morning about working with the team at Shot Scope to provide better solutions for golfers. Its hard work but I love every minute of it.
MATT WARD: What was the genesis for Shot Scope?
DAVID HUNTER: I was a golf-obsessed engineer who had fallen in love with the game but I was frustrated with the lack of options for tracking my performance and I knew other golfers who felt the same. I decided to build a solution that would solve this problem so that I could make informed choices on how to play better. Two years on and here we are!
MW: How long was the process in creating the product?
DH: Shot Scope, as a business, has been formed for two years but I’ve been working on it, on some level, for about four. My experience as an electronics design engineer allowed me to start designing, manufacturing and testing the technology immediately. The first version I made in my garage was extremely large, more like an armband, but it proved that the technology was viable.
MW: How does Shot Scope differentiate itself from your competitors?
DH: Our system is the first fully automated performance tracking system and doesn’t require the use of a phone on the course or the need to manually tag every club. Shot Scope is fully conforming to the Rules of Golf and golfers. We also have enhanced putting statistics which offers our users insights into one of the most important aspects of the game.
MW: Unlike other products built and assembled in China — Shot Scope is produced in Scotland — what are the advantages in doing so? Any disadvantages?
DH: Shot Scope is at the cutting edge of what is currently possible in both electronics and manufacturing. It made sense to keep a close eye on manufacturing to allow for refinement at every opportunity. It also allowed us to contribute towards the Scottish economy and bring more jobs back to the area, in the manufacturing company we have created four new jobs, in addition to the 19 employees we have working directly for Shot Scope.
MW: You’re about to roll-out your efforts in America — what is the biggest challenge in breaking through in the market in the States?
DH: Location. Being across the pond makes it more difficult to break the US market but we’re doing everything we can to make Shot Scope accessible to American golfers. Our Chicago based fulfillment partnership is ready to launch and we’re in final discussions with a number of sports retailers that are household names in the USA.
MW: Many companies are touting their customer service. Define the term and how Shot Scope responds in such situations?
DH: We see good customer service as friendly and efficient responses which provide our customers with full and relevant answers to their questions. Working with technology means that some issues are inevitable and so we have pulled together an expert team of golfers that is supported by our technical team to provide a great quality service to our users.
MW: What comments have golfers already provided concerning the wearing of the product on one’s wrist. Have any concerns been raised it interferes with their game?
DH: Shot Scope is similar in size to other wearables in golf, but it offers far more tech in the same footprint. The product was designed with golf in mind and it quickly feels natural to wear. After a few swings users realize that it doesn’t interfere with their game at all, mainly because it’s so light.
MW: Do you envision a time frame when the major professional tours permit players to use such products while in competition?
DH: Yes, definitely. Shot Scope has actually already been used on the European Tour and the Ladies European Tour. Shot Scope is now working closely with Tours, unions and governing bodies to create technology that conforms and meets the needs of elite golfers at the top level of the sport.
MW: Why do you think such an approval has not happened thus far?
DH: The rules are part of the history of this great game and new innovations shouldn’t take away from this. This ethos has driven the technological development and created a product that conforms to the Rules of Golf. Shot Scope will continue to build and develop technology with this vision in mind and will always work closely with governing bodies to guarantee our products are compliant.
MW: You can change one thing unilaterally in golf — what would it be and why?
DH: I think everyone involved with the game has to ensure it is made more accessible for children to get into at a young age. We live in a time where children have computers, technology and the internet at their fingertips. Golf requires significant time and effort to play. It would be great to see new and innovative ways to involve the younger generation in the game. I personally dream that Shot Scope can be part of this and that we can work with like-minded companies to pave the way into the sport for children.
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