Interview with Kristopher Drey

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Founder & CEO of The Byrd, LLC, helping golfers focus on their game with clothing and accessories to keep them organized.
Posted on
December 30, 2023
by
M. James Ward in
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Background

Founder & CEO of The Byrd, LLC, Kris Drey has long had a deep passion for golf and an even deeper affinity for organization.

He grew up surfing and golfing in sunny Southern California. His nickname, The Byrd, was born as a skinny kid with twiglike legs and a large beak.

Drey attended college in Northern California and upon graduation moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where he lives with his wife of 26 years, ​Ellen, ​and where he misses his ​two children now off to college.

Drey met his business partner, Matt Durso, in Catholic grade school where he perpetually broke all the rules. Fast forward to today and the tandem are still breaking rules but now with a purpose - making golf more enjoyable for all.

The Drey Story

The golf bug hit me hard during Covid when there was nothing safe to do indoors so I dusted off my clubs, went outside, and became an addict.

I'm a rather fastidious person. Believing everything has its place in this world. And it's a little-known fact golfers have a lot of stuff which can be unruly and distracting to say the least.

I hate reaching into my disheveled porcupine pocket every single hole to find an amorphous mass of tees, divot tools, ball markers, gum, ChapStick, throat lozenges, and coinage just to get from tee-to-green.

That's just one dimension of the issue for male golfers. Female golfers have the opposite problem with no pockets and have to constantly ping-pong back and forth to the cart continually to get critical gear.

So, I decided to do something about it and invented a line of utility clothing and accessories that help golfers focus on their game – not their gear. Golf is hard enough and we don’t need to be distracted by our gear so our flagship product attacks the porcupine pocked head-on.

The Byrd Clyp is a one-of-a-kind golf multitool that can hold all of your essential equipment in a clean, organized manner and can be clipped anywhere so it's always where you want it. I wear mine on my shirt placket between the bottom two buttons. Then came the Byrd Belt that would make Batman drool.

This multi-purpose utility belt is made out of super trendy, high quality woven elastic and is reversible so it will house your tees, ball markers, divot tool, and glove on the course during the day and will hug your hips on the dance floor at night. And then there's the Byrd Byll (baseball hats and visors) that not only look good atop anyone's head but they also store tees and ball markers in style.

At our core, The Byrd is a company that understands that concentration is key to a great game of golf and is difficult to come by on the course. We strive to help you focus on your game, not your gear and look good doing it.

***

What was the genesis for The Byrd Golf?

I’m a big fan of organization and efficiency. When I see something for the first time, I think to myself, “how can that be better, more useful, faster.”

I’m a perpetual tinkerer and love making things that come from my imagination. I’ve been in digital product management my entire career, writing specifications for software but recently falling in love with creating physical products which lead me to the formation of The Byrd and our organizational golf tools.

I have over 200 slides in a deck of inventions that I want to make some day both within and outside of the golf world.

 

You will be attending your first PGA Show in January. What do you hope to accomplish when in Orlando?

Yes, we will be in the Inventor’s section, booth #3701 and we are excited to show the golf world our innovations.

Our goal for the show is to meet as many people as possible, learn how the golf world works, show off our products, and test the market to hopefully validate our assumed product market fit.

Who is your customer?

Anyone and everyone who plays golf and even people who do not because our products are “lifestyle” products that can be used on and off the course.

Our belt, for example, is reversible so it is your golf utility belt on the course and your slick hip-hugger afterwards. We all use tees, ball markers, divot tools, and gloves so every one of us is a potential customer.

Whether you’re tired of digging through your pocket every single hole or you have no pockets to dig into – The Byrd gear will help remove some of the friction from your game so you can focus primary attention on your swing.

 

In terms of product usage by gender – how do you think the split will be between men and women?

Everyone can use our products, men and women, young and old. We have seen strong sales of The Byrd Clyp to both demographics but a large percentage of women love the Clyp and the visor because they often have no pockets in their golf attire to store their equipment.

The Belt has been a big hit with men as well as The Clyp and the baseball hat.

 

Suggested retail price for the product is what?

MSRP for our products is very reasonable.

The Byrd Clyp is $18.95. The Byrd Belt is $47.95. The Byrd Byll (baseball hats and visors) is $28.95

And all of our products come “fully loaded” meaning the Clyp comes with two tees, and a ball marker. The Belt comes with two tees, a ball marker and a divot tool. And the hats with two tees, and a ball marker.

Matt Durso (left) & Kris Drey (right)

In terms of sales efforts – what is the approximate percentage split between online efforts, brick and mortar and green grass shops at this point and what do you envision it being in a year's time?

The bulk of our sales are from our website and we’ve seen good sales from green grass shops who love our products and want to customize them with their own logos.

We foresee direct-to-consumer continuing to be our strongest sales avenue, driving traffic to the website from marketing materials and soon from social media platforms.

As we ramp-up we expect business-to-business to grow and become a larger part of our business since all of our products are fully customizable with your corporate branding, colors, patterns, etc.

 

Customer feedback is an important dimension for any company. How do you plan on cultivating it and what role will it play in your efforts now and in going forward?

The customer is our number one priority and we strive for fanatical customer service with little touches like including a personal “thank you” note from my co-founder Matt and I. In every package we include a note encouraging customers to let us know how well their new Byrd products work.

We will soon be launching customer ratings and comments on our website and have a 100% commitment to our product’s functionality so if anything goes wrong with your Byrd gear, we will replace it. We are also big believers in making data-driven decisions so collecting feedback is imperative for us.

If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally – what would it be and why?

The sport requires so much gear – it’s unbelievable. We haul these huge golf bags around with 15 pockets housing 50 different items for a single round.
I am interested in streamlining the sport so we don’t have so much to think about other than our swing.

Soon The Byrd product line will be even bigger consisting of never before seen, streamlined gear making your game more efficient and keeping you looking good when playing.

 

Biggest short- and long-term challenges facing your efforts are what and what strategic responses are you planning for each?

Short-term – getting the word out about The Byrd. We’ve done no advertising or marketing and our social presence is lacking but we’re working on it and will hopefully have an ad campaign running soon.

A longer-term concern we have is funding all of my crazy ideas. I have close to 50 inventions I want to bring to life but that takes cash which we’re trying to make as we speak.

Interview with Kristopher Drey

Complete the sentence Kris Drey is –

A perpetual tinkerer and life-long student of the efficiency game.

It took me close to 50 years to discover my passion which is making products that serve a purpose, solve problems, and make life more productive. I never knew I could conceptualize, design, and create physical products and I absolutely love doing it.

When someone comes to me with a problem, I set to task in my workshop to solve it, one way or another. I’m thrilled to be in the position I am today, offering meaningful products to the world and hopefully making people happy.

***

For more info go to:

www.thebyrd.com

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About M. James Ward

A GWAA and MGWA member, the 66-year-old from the USA has covered golf in all facets since 1980, notably the major championships and other high level events. He has played over 2,000 courses globally and has competed in USGA Championships.

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