In this series, we study companies on how they market and sell their products or services. In the this post we’ll be looking to interview Kalle Väinölä, the co-founder and CEO of Freedrop Innovations Ltd. The company is behind the Gamebook concept that golfers can use to make the most of their round. We covered the company in January when they inked an investment agreement from Anssi Vanjoki. As this is the first story in the series, all kinds of feedback is naturally welcome regarding the questions.
ArcticStartup (AS): What products and services does GameBook have?
Kalle Väinölä (KV): There are three products inside the GameBook-concept. Firstly, there’s the GameBook device that is leased to golf clubs, so that they can independently organise realtime results in golf competitions. The GameBook device is delivered in 12-device charging tray. Usually, an 18-hole course can manage with 24 devices. There are several advantages in this to the club. Firstly, they’re able to offer the members and corporate customers realtime results, which helps increase the atmosphere to a new level.
Secondly (and thirdly) there is the GameBook smartphone application and GameBook Clubhouse. With the help of the GameBook iPhone application independent golfers can keep count of their score and share it with friends. GameBook is the only golf application that offers independent golfers the possibility for a realtime results.
GameBook Clubhouse is the community that is combined with the application, sort of like a Facebook for golfers only. The same credential work for the application and the Clubhouse. The Clubhouse account will keep count of all scores, played rounds and statistics based on the results. This naturally makes for good comparison with your friends.
The most used feature in the application is the possibility to follow your friends. Whenever your friend begins a round anywhere in the world, you can follow it hole by hole and you can also send him messages through the service. Also, the golfer can send images and messages back to their friends. This is a really unique service and we get constantly good feedback from around the world.
AS: How does GameBook’s organisation support sales and marketing, how many people work with this part of the company?
KV: We have 8 employees in Finland and a couple of temps helping us out. In the US we currently have one employee. We’re just about to close a partnership deal for three countries, where GameBook will be sold and marketed by our partner. Essentially, all but the R&D (3 people) participate in sales and marketing in one way or another.
AS: What tools and methods do you use in marketing? What are used online and what offline?
KV: The most important way to market the service is to organise demos to potential golf clubs and event organisers. Regarding the application, the we do marketing online. We’re actually about to start a very interesting campaign where we leverage Facebook.
AS: Who are part of your target market at the moment?
KV: On the application side, all golfers who have an iPhone and soon also those with an Android phone (we’ll be bringing out the Android version beginning of this summer). Regarding the actual GameBook device, it’s mostly clubs who organise corporate events and other sorts of member competitions.
AS: How do you go about planning marketing at the moment?
KV: We have a marketing group (3 people), that also gets help from some partners both in Finland and the US.
AS: How early on did GameBook begin its marketing and selling?
KV: Extremely early on. We’ve done hundreds of tournaments with the help of the iPhone and once we got the actual device, we have done many tournaments with the help of that. We’ve also had the fantastic opportunity to work with some of the legends of the sports. Both Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer wanted to try GameBooks in their own events and they were very happy with the experience.
We’ve also organised some charity tournaments for the British Open winners Stewart Cink, Unicef, NFL and Nascar, for example. The feedback from these events has been extremely good. We’ll also try to be present in these kinds of events in the future. We’ve also received lots of requests based on our appearance in these kinds of events, so they clearly work. In about a month’s time we’re also organising, for the first time, a PGA Tour’s Pro-Am competition in the US.