David Hunter founded Shot Scope in December 2014. A keen golfer, Hunter invented the technology after tracking the performance of his own game for five years, improving his handicap from 16 to five. A background in electronics design and embedded software development, David qualified from Heriot Watt university in Edinburgh with an honors degree in Electronics and Software Engineering then went on to complete a Masters of Engineering and Business Development at The University of Edinburgh.
After graduation David worked in various engineering and design positions within the electronics industry. Including seven years as a consultant designing electronics products for medical, military, industrial and commercial markets. Followed by two years teaching design and technology at high schools.
As CEO of Shot Scope, Hunter is responsible for the overall strategic direction of the company and managed the development and launch of three products, multiple funding rounds that include significant awards for intellectual property and innovation and growth.
Passionate about sport, David has a Black Belt in Taekwondo and in his teenage years travelled the world competing internationally as part of the Scottish and British Taekwondo team. Hunter is married and has two young children.
The Hunter story —
I fell in love with golf at 23 years old after spending my teenage years playing and competing in a variety of different sports. A chance game of golf at my local club in near perfect conditions, important as I play golf in Scotland and a score in the 80s. I was like most amateur golfers, I just couldn’t get enough of the beautiful game and if I wasn’t on the course I was hitting balls at the range or reading books on how to improve.
To be honest, I didn’t think for a second that I would be lucky enough to work in the golf industry. I wasn’t an exceptional golfer and had started to build a career in engineering. The opportunity to start a business in golf came through a unique series of events. I was back at University training to teach design and technology and saw opportunities to start a business. A wearable to track performance on the course had been at the back of my mind for a while. I attended a series of start-up events and training courses, pitched the idea in London at the UK Sports Innovation Awards and won just enough funding to leave my job and start working full time on the idea, it was December 2013 and my wife was 6-months pregnant with our 1st child, not the best time to start a business.
Today, I feel privileged, I am exceptionally lucky to build a product that combines my passion for golf and technology. Our products significantly change how a golfer plays for the better and Shot Scope is used by golfers worldwide to improve. That’s pretty cool!
How are things faring with Shot Scope since the onset of the pandemic?
The company is in a good position. At the start of the pandemic I spent a lot of time with the board and management team planning for all scenarios. A fluent and agile plan was implemented that allowed the company to adapt quickly to economic changes. The launch of two new products was a challenge with the team working remotely and delays in manufacturing however we are now past that phase.
How are overall sales progressing given today’s new reality?
From my experience trying to book a tee time there may actually be a resurgence of new golfers playing the game.
Shot Scope G3 and V3 launched early July and demand is high. Sales and interest in the new products surpassed our expectations. Shot Scope V3 sold out within two weeks. We are lucky that golf is one of a small number of sports that can be played under social distance guidelines.
Is the company at full manpower strength now?
As a golf technology company, we are fortunate the team can work efficiently from home and is at full manpower. Shot Scope is now recruiting to expand the team.
How does your latest effort with the V3 and G3 go beyond past efforts?
The team at Shot Scope are extremely proud of the G3 and V3 products. Development started more than two years ago and the team have put their heart and soul into delivering a product that makes a difference to all levels of golfers. Our goal was to deliver a significant technology gain, V3 introduces dual band GPS providing the most accurate GPS watch in golf and power sense artificial technology that captures data for every shot. All in a small package that comes in an array of colors, we have had great feedback on the colors. Our users love the technology and the ability to view insights into their own game.
Off course the insights lead to better on course decision making which results in better scores. I helped on customer service at the weekend and read a ticket from a new V3 user, “played twice last week with V3 and realized I hit 50% of my approach shots short. Started to club up and yesterday I won my first competition and scored seven shots below my handicap.” The user even sent a picture of his scorecard. At Shot Scope we pin these messages to our main communication channel, we love to hear how our technology has helped golfers and it inspires us to work on the next feature.
Who is your customer?
Very simple, all golfers.
Performance tracking technology empowers golfers of all levels to better understand weaknesses and strengths within their own games. You have to check your ego when you realize you don’t bomb the driver 300 yards, but once you get past that, the insights are so rich that you can start to fully understand and manage your own game. We find that higher handicap golfers have opportunities to make larger gains quickly and lower handicaps can find that incremental area for improvement through knowledge.
What role does customer feedback play and how are you incorporating it into your future efforts?
Customer feedback is essential when designing and developing any product. Throughout the development of V3 we constantly reached out to Shot Scope users and asked about features they would like included. Our Customer Experience team are constantly engaged with users both supporting their needs and listening to ideas. Going forward we plan to introduce new software features and have already engaged users and golfers across the world to understand features they would like included in the platform.
What distinguishes your product capability versus that of your competitors?
Distance measuring devices and specifically wearable GPS products haven’t changed over the past ten years. Providing front, middle and back yardages, new features have not necessarily been specific to golf.
The Memorial Tournament R3
Shot Scope combines a wearable GPS with automatic performance tracking in a single product specifically designed to improve a golfer’s performance. The tracking technology includes 16 pre-programed light weight tags that deliver plug and play technology. On course V3’s Power Sense AI technology works in the background to automatically collect the golfers score, statistics and record every shot played. Golfers can then view the information on Shot Scope’s mobile app or online dashboard. It’s a complete GPS based golf management system that has been proven to improve a golfer’s game by 2.7 shots. We have users that reduced handicaps by five to eight shots in less than 18-months. The ability to completely change your game through data and information differentiates Shot Scope from competitors in the distance measuring segment.
Why do you think the USGA and R&A have not permitted such products during Open competitions and is it likely they will change their minds in the years ahead?
I think the USGA and R&A are cautious to change, I don’t think that’s a bad thing where technology is involved as it protects the history of the game. In 2018 the USGA modified Rule 4.3 allowing players to use a distance measuring device during play. Shot Scope viewed this change as a massive step forward.
Shot Scope V series products have three modes: GPS only, GPS & Tack and Track only. In the track only mode Shot Scope is legal for use in all competitions and has been used in multiple events by players on the European Tour.
Personally, I think more golfers will use technology in the future.
Plenty of companies tout the importance of customer service. Define the term and the approach followed at Shot Scope.
Customer service or experience is critical for every company today. Shot Scope has a dedicated in-house customer support team with a background in golf and understand technology. Early in the life of the company I realized customer service was going to be critical if Shot Scope was to be successful and it was essential that golfers work in the team. As golfers themselves, our customer experience specialist can truly understand a user’s pain or frustration and relate to provide a high level of service.
A perfect example of Shot Scope’s commitment to customer experience is the in-house course mapping database of 35K courses. Our courses are mapped meter by meter and an individual hole can have up to 1,000 GPS latitude longitude points. The in-house software allows the company to map and maintain courses in 48 hours.
The biggest challenges that lie ahead — short and long term is what?
The company is growing fast, Shot Scope products are now sold in over 100 countries worldwide. As the company evolves from start-up to an established company in golf the speed of growth creates new challenges. Thankfully time has been taken to lay down a strong foundation. The company has an experienced board and management team that have launched four products in five years. That’s a wealth of knowledge and experience that will be invaluable as Shot Scope grows. I am sure there will be challenges, every fast-growing company faces challenges, I am just glad I have a team around me that is comfortable, ready and prepared for these challenges.
Long term – we have too many ideas and features to talk about here — perhaps one for another day.
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