by Vinny Fiorino
Undergraduate students in the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business’ Entrepreneurship program taking the 400-level “Create a Company” class are given the task to launch a fully functioning business in 10 weeks (and if the business fails, the students fail the class – no pressure, uh huh).
This winter, unlike most of the students who targeted the UW market with food items such as chocolates or hot cocoa mix, Jessica Kent and her team decided to venture into the golf industry.
Straying from the status quo, Kent, who is the CEO of the fledgling company, and her team (Nic Larrivee, Daniel Stoll, Jiri Ferenc and Taylor Herring) felt compelled to venture into the world of golf, a world that preceding UW entrepreneur students had yet to explore.
And the training aid GolfScope was born.
“Each of us on the team is a different kind of golfer,” Kent says, “ranging from someone who has never played the game, to recreational golfers, to a former competitive golfer. This helped us tailor the device to be easily followed by a new golfer but to also consider the needs of the advanced golfer.”
Kent and her team developed and manufactured a prototype, and set about testing it, with their first subject being their professor, a beginning golfer, who promptly topped the ball on her first swing.
“For the next swing, we set up our prototype. The only instruction we gave her was to keep her eye on the ball through the top piece of the device until making impact with the ball. On our professor’s second swing, this time using the prototype, she made contact, launching the ball into the air. If our product could improve someone’s golf game in just one swing, we knew we had a good idea.”
Kent, from Bellevue, Wash., is the driving force behind the idea, and has been an avid golfer since she was eight. She is an alum of The First Tee of Greater Seattle who last spring was selected to speak at a Congressional Breakfast in Washington DC on National Golf Day. This past summer, Kent then served an internship for the PGA TOUR.
Numerous golf instructors in the Seattle area have tested GolfScope, and the team received positive feedback from them – so much so that the students now plan to continue with the company even after the class ends in early March.
“Our company’s mission is to spread the joy of golf,” Kent says. “We’re donating 100 percent of the profits from sales of GolfScopes back to our UW program, to help future students pursue their own start-up companies.”
Visit www.golf-scope.com for more information or to purchase a GolfScope online.
(This article was previously published in Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine.)