DUNCAN WALSH Director/CEO of FX-Sport
Interview with Matt Ward
I am currently 50 years old and hold a degree in Sport Science. I was a professional squash player for 15 years. Having started the sport for recreation as a complete beginner at age 19, I went on to beat world class players, often 10-15 years my junior, and won the world 40+ championship in 2006. I soon began working with top UK engineers and I took my fanatical approach to fitness and applied it to a series of innovative products to “motivate and inspire” others.
I am married to my wife Jane and we have two young daughters.
The Walsh Story —
We had already created the VRX model of headphones which is targeted more for the usual running/gym market. The VRX has hundreds of workouts available and we work with many personal trainers. One of our investors was a keen golfer and wished we had some golf coaches involved to help his troubled game. This made us think that the same principle could be applied to golf for real time practice.
When we approached the coaches we work with, they were on board immediately, thinking it was a great idea. Currently advice is available online — on YouTube etc, — but how is that conveyed to the course? Do you try to remember it or write down relevant points from a video? So much better to have the information in real time during a practice drill which you know is performed by top pros.
Another factor which made us move confidently into this space was simply the quality of content. The advice is genuinely world class. I would challenge anyone not to learn something from the on board content. Dr. Morris Pickens is regarded as one of the top golf psychologists in the US today. In a recent meeting with Dr. Pickens, he said “most people when they are practicing either run out of ideas, or get bored. The headphones are a perfect solution in that they not only encourage the user to practice for longer, but also with better quality and more purpose.” Quoting his experiences with Pros such as Zach Johnson, Stewart Cink and Nick Watney with 27 PGA Tour victories and 3 majors makes it hard to argue against.
MATT WARD: What was the genesis for the VC Golf Headphones?
DUNCAN WALSH: The VC Golf Headphones are an application of our already existing VRX headphones. One of my investors thought a golf specific product would be of interest to the millions of golfers around the world and so we developed it. We officially launched the product at the 2017 PGA Merchandise Show and received excellent support and media coverage on the product.
MW: How long did it take from initial idea to actual product?
DW: We spent one year working with the golf coaches to create content compatible with the headphones firmware. That is that to say, the user can still listen to their own music while instructional messages play at designated times over their own music.
MW: What separates your product from others in the marketplace?
DW: Our product is unique for golf and for now we own the marketplace. The VC allows for advice in real time practice, golf specific workouts, pre-round psychological and physical warm ups, golf fitness assessment tests, off the course podcasts and hundreds of other workouts in other categories, all preloaded, together with a premium mp3 player. Plus our headphones are wireless, rain proof and comfortable to wear.
MW: Gender wise – who uses the product more?
DW: The VC was created for all golfers – men, women and juniors. It does not favor one gender particularly.
MW: From the standpoint in selling your product what is the approximate percentage for the company’s outreach via retail outlets, green grass shops and online?
DW: Currently the VC Golf Headphones are available only online. We will be working to enter the retail market this year.
MW: Describe your core customer?
DW: Anyone who loves the game of golf will love the new VC Golf Headphones. Golfers will become engrossed in the content — believe me!
MW: Customer service is a term companies are quick to say is important in what they do. Define the term and how you put service into motion?
DW: Customer service for us is about speed of communication and quality of advice. If people have a question about the product we reply quickly and accurately. Speed of delivery is important. People like to be kept updated with a product’s shipping progress.
MW: If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally — what would it be and why?
DW: Anything that improves golfer’s access to good advice has got to be a good thing. We pride ourselves on having the very top names in coaching and fitness.
MW: Best advice received — what was it and who from?
DW: Two things: Firstly, “Failure cannot live with persistence”. Secondly, the only thing that can be better than having more time in life is to receive good advice. Good advice can save you time and money. Seek out good advice.
MW: What’s the short and long term challenges for VC Golf Headphones — and how do you expect to meet those respective elements?
DW: Our main challenge is that there is no natural pathway for our product. No one naturally searches for our product, they stumble across it. So we have to create our own path. This comes down to marketing – something that is 80% of all products today in a world where everyone competes for a voice in the crowd. Innovation in itself is not enough. The challenge for us is not the quality of product, but the quality of marketing. Through dedicated public relations and marketing will hope to expose this product to golfers all over the world.WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?