Get Happy: Finding (and re-finding) investors

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2014, 3:12 pm


It’s not easy to get people to part with their money and invest in a new venture, even if the entrepreneurs behind that venture have strong track records.

Investors — even people I’d call “professional investors,” who are always on the lookout for new opportunities — are a tough bunch. Rightly so. Most of them made their money through hard work and by taking calculated risks. And even though they’re all unique with different personalities, they all want the same thing: They want their money to come back to them at a multiple.

So, even though they need to courted, wooed and pursued, more than anything they need to be convinced.

I don’t by any means think of myself as an expert on raising money, but after doing it for several companies, I’ve learned a few important lessons. And I’ve had to re-learn them all over again with Brainstorm Golf and the Happy Putter.

Lesson 1: Raising money takes so much longer than you would expect.  The process is brutal.  You start putting out feelers to your business contacts, hoping that someone will have positive feedback for you and be willing to introduce you to prospects.  You create your business plan and you start sending emails, and more emails, then you follow up with phone calls, and more phone calls.  You must be persistent without being desperate or annoying. It’s a sensitive balancing act. When you finally get meetings, you have to be on your game, and in the case of Brainstorm Golf, we had to sell an idea and a vision because we didn’t have a finished product to share. You meet, share your story, answer questions, and you leave the meeting feeling fairly confident.  This is where the fun starts. 

Blog 4: Finding the right funding

Blog 3: Raising money

Blog 2: Picking the right team

Blog 1: The reality of a start-up company

Lesson 2: Plan on being disappointed. Hot prospects will suddenly go cold. Our first two potential investors seemed very interested at first but then decided they needed more time. (I didn’t have time!) Luckily for us, we met another investor shortly after that — a former professional athlete who really seemed to get our strategy.  Not only did this prospect commit to invest between $250K and $500K, he said he felt he could help us finish the entire round through his fellow athlete friends. Great news, right?  Yeah, until a few weeks later, when our calls and emails suddenly weren’t being returned. After about a half-dozen emails and another dozen or so voicemails, we got the message (even though we didn’t get the call). To this day, we never heard from this investor letting us know why he had changed his mind. If you’re out there, call me!

Lesson 3: Don’t ever stop meeting with prospects even if you feel you’ve found the right investors.  We lost two months because we took someone’s word and thought we had found our investor team.  

Lesson 4: Stay resilient; stay hopeful. The disappointments aside, there are investors who do what they say, send their checks as promised, and become key members of your team.  You can never tell where you are going to find them, but if you keep looking, you will find them. You must be confident even when inside you’re scared to death.  You must realize and plan for the fact that even though you need the money today, you’re not going to get it for a while. 

Lesson 5: Too many entrepreneurs get caught up in dilution. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be careful as you sell shares in your company, but rather, focus more on growing the overall size of the pie rather than how big your slice is.  I’ll never forget the advice Mr. Callaway gave me when I asked him about dilution, “It’s better to own one percent of Disney than 100 percent of Gatorland.”  

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McCoy earns medalist honors at Q-School

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Tour Q-School.

McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.