If you haven’t heard of FlightScope Mevo, there’s chance that you’ll be hearing more about it very soon and perhaps even selling it in your golf shops. The small high-powered consumer facing launch monitor from FlightScope comes with a price tag of $500 and provides users with the core ball tracking vitals: ball and club speed, vertical launch angle, carry distance, spin rate, smash factor, height and flight time.
We sat down with FlightScope CEO Henri Johnson and asked him about this innovative new product:
How are you taking this technology that normally costs thousands of dollars and shrinking it down and making it for the consumer?
We started out in the defense business, and our parent company is still in the defense business in South Africa. There we have very expensive tracking systems for monitoring weapons and projectiles. We started out by taking that technology and bringing it to the level of golf instruction. So it was really expensive defense technology, and we had to be smart to take these capabilities into golf.
With that said, it was even more difficult to develop Mevo. We essentially had to take one of our bigger systems, such as X3, and make it small, accurate and affordable.
It was a big challenge. It took us four years and a lot of technology to get there. Now we have it, and we have a range of units that we can use to address different aspirations of the market.
To give you the philosophy, when I designed it I said: “We’re going to provide a unit that will enable golfers to see their swing in a video clip and also have data elements they can select on the video screen.” We wanted the video to be the primary communication medium. They can see themselves after they hit the ball and when they look up, the video was replayed automatically and the other elements are displayed on the screen and stored. Then the golfer doesn’t have to think about the system. After each shot, it will be ready for the next shot automatically. That’s a very important point for us. After pressing the button once, all they have to do is focus on hitting shots.
Training becomes more focused this way, because golfers can see themselves after every shot and they have data elements that they can focus on. The trouble with only data is that you leave it to the interpretation of the individual. When you have visualization in the form of a video clip on the phone or tablet, coupled with the data, the brain is more involved. Then the data forms a better picture, or a more honest picture. We all know the saying “a picture is worth 1,000 words,” adding a few data elements makes that picture even clearer. As a practice tool, it’s very efficient.
With FlightScope University and all of the education that goes into preparing golf professionals to use a launch monitor and understand the data, what’s your education plan for consumers?
The new FlightScope University (which used to be FlightScope Academy) offers online courses for the top teachers, and for consumers. They can access online course work, choose from select courses and even take exams to become certified users.
When people are challenged to take the course and spend the time, they’re more committed. You’re focused and you want to achieve. There’s a difference between being committed to something and just casually listening to a YouTube video or reading info on a website. Distant information doesn’t mean that you made it a part of your knowledge base. Knowledge is power. But to turn information into knowledge is hard work, and you need that commitment.
Therefore we are going to engage consumers by giving them an opportunity to get better and develop a broader understanding of how Mevo can help their game.
Another part of that equation is that we will be encouraging consumers to seek lessons from FlightScope University certified instructors. We’re conducting case studies to see if these lessons have a greater impact on players’ performances than just online tips, watching videos or other forms of golf instruction. So what we are now trying to do is make a difference, get more engagement and make it more fun by giving people challenges and tools that are affordable and accessible.
It’s a process that they go through when people commit to FlightScope University and pay to take a course.
Will there be any free access to the University for consumers?
The University will have some free content for consumers, but you start paying for your certifications once you start on that track. We have an online platform, and these things of course cost money to update and keep going. So there’s going to be cost involved for the consumer. But there will be some free content for sure, free entry-level stuff to get people started with the Mevo, but when you start diving deeper, yes, there will be cost.
Are you assuming that when someone spends $500 on a personal launch monitor that they’re already a serious golfer and have some understanding of the data?
Absolutely. The Mevo will also have a lot of apps to give people challenges and more engagement. We have already a platform at www.myflightscope.com, we haven’t marketed it yet, and there are more than 70,000 subscribers. We have an online challenge that can connect people who have the app and they can take part in skills challenges and play against anyone in the world. So there’s going to be some fun engaging stuff on the online platform or through the phone. Mobile technology makes it much easier for someone to complete in these global challenges now. They can sign up, hit some shots and 20 seconds later have their name appear on an online leaderboard.
So there is a gamification element to it? Kind of like a Topgolf thing.
Yes, there’s gamification but at a different level. It’s at your own leisure. Of course you don’t have the food and the drink – you have bring that along yourself. But it’s a different thing, it’s not a destination it’s a purpose.
What does the competition in this market look like?
Soon there will be mobile phone apps that will report some kind of data on the golf swing without any extra tech. People will believe it for a while, but then will drop it. The trouble with gadgets is that people use them once or twice and they drop it, but the Mevo people love it from the word go. There’s real value in this, we put four years into the development of the tech.
We see it like this: Uber, they changed taxis forever. It’s not complex mechanically or to operate as a consumer. Mevo is the Uber of launch monitors, that’s what I have in mind.
So you’re looking to revolutionize the industry?
We hope so. We’re always looking at new things and how to push what we do even further. And people don’t realize that we were the first to have a 3D tracking radar in the world. We know our stuff, we are scientists. We have 152 permanent employees worldwide, and we’re committed. We don’t tell people what they need, we respond to their needs. We also think forward and are very innovative, but we make our products reachable – within reach of the target market. We don’t believe in making something so expensive that only a few people can afford it. Before we bring something to market, we make sure the intended market can actually tolerate it; because that’s a win-win. For us it’s a relationship, it is not just a one-way street of making money. That’s what we believe and how we do things in our company.