Technology has improved the lives of everyone, and software is increasingly the catalyst in making it more convenient and cost-effective for businesses to operate and thrive in the 21st century. To be sure, every industry requires customized solutions tailored to its specific needs. The golf industry, in particular, faced challenges in managing day-to-day needs due to a lack of suitable software solutions. Jason Pearsall, Founder, and CEO of Club Caddie, experienced these operational golf course challenges first-hand after he and a few partners acquired Flushing Valley Golf Club about an hour north of Detroit in March 2016. Soon after becoming a first-time golf course owner, Pearsall quickly realized the need for a far better way to run his semi-private facility, as he was assuming six different technology platforms managing his facility’s wide-ranging operations from tee times to private members and weddings/banquets.
These operational frustrations inspired Pearsall to develop specialized cloud software initially tailored for his golf course. However, by leveraging his entrepreneurial experience and knowledge in both golf and technology, Pearsall swiftly created a solution that would have a far greater reach beyond his 18-hole property and would end up helping the greater golf course industry. During a recent interview, Pearsall shared some insights on how he successfully established the Club Caddie business – yet another tech startup Pearsall founded and subsequently sold in the highly competitive golf course technology landscape.
Jason Pearsall’s Career Trajectory to Club Caddie
Pearsall’s academic and professional path follows a clear and impressive trajectory, in some respects, just like the perfectly struck golf shot. Pearsall’s academic excellence started in Detroit at Wayne State University, Michigan’s third-largest public university, where the Michigan native earned a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in Political Science with Honors in 2008. While a student, Pearsall co-founded his first successful tech venture, PerformancePersonalComputers.com, which he sold to a technology firm in Chicago in 2010.
After selling Performance Personal Computers, Pearsall furthered his studies at Wayne State University Law School, where Pearsall was a Carl Ziemba Scholar and obtained his Juris Doctor degree in 2013, specializing in Banking, Corporate, Finance, and Securities Law. Pearsall continues to be accredited by the State Bar of Michigan as a certified attorney.
Pearsall’s post-graduate professional life reflects his passion for golf course management, golf life, technology, legal counsel, and entrepreneurship, resulting in a coherent and remarkable journey in the last decade.
Before getting into the golf business, Pearsall worked for Detroit-area Nexteer Automotive, a $3 billion-plus company that supplied automotive parts to global OEMs. Pearsall, who was the company’s Corporate Information Technology and Intellectual Property Legal Counsel, also managed the IPO project during the company’s listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, handling corporate and securities compliance, capital markets, and IP portfolio management.
After practicing law for three years, Pearsall successfully launched his first golf industry tech start-up in 2014, securing $650K in seed funding for Detroit-based Golfler Holdings Corporation. He directed software development, built a robust sales team, and served 80 golf course clients. In 2017, Pearsall sold the company to Dallas-based Supreme Golf for $4.2 million. In the following two years, Pearsall served as Supreme Golf’s President and General Counsel, offering legal counsel and overseeing the Solution division’s operations. Simultaneously, Pearsall served as the Managing Partner of Flushing Valley Golf and Country Club. Flushing Valley was the testing ground for the company’s research and development and, ultimately, something even bigger – Club Caddie.
Naturally, Pearsall is transfixed to this day on two of his passions – golf, and technology – as he continues to serve as CEO of Club Caddie Holdings Inc., which was acquired by Jonas in 2020, and Managing Partner of his latest golf ownership venture, Warren Valley Golf Course, the historic Donald Ross-designed layout that Pearsall completely renovated just outside of Detroit where it all began for him.
Club Caddie: Born from Curiosity and Innovation
In some respects, Club Caddie founder Jason Pearsall can credit Flushing Valley Golf Club, the avid golfer’s foray into the golf course ownership business, for the spark that led to his latest cutting-edge technology startup. In 2015, Pearsall encountered an operational challenge that was unacceptable. The issue: a lack of an all-in-one cloud solution capable of effectively managing the intricate demands of his semi-private golf course and banquet operation. The frustration experienced by the club’s various departments, unable to efficiently operate and coexist across six different technology/software platforms, proved to be the genesis for Club Caddie.
After Club Caddie first seamlessly solved the needs of his facility, Pearsall took Club Caddie to other golf facilities facing similar situations with antiquated or ineffective software systems. And just like Flushing Valley, Club Caddie was a hit once again.
In 2020, a fortunate turn of events occurred when the vertical market software giant Jonas Software recognized Club Caddie’s potential and acquired the company. Jonas Software is the hospitality division of the vertical market software giant Constellation Software – a wildly successful company that is publicly traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Now, with major company backing, Pearsall’s latest tech startup is experiencing unprecedented growth. What’s noteworthy about the recent acquisition of Club Caddie is that the entire founding team, consisting of the original four co-founders, joined the new ownership group, ensuring a smooth transition. Since then, Club Caddie has rapidly expanded its services, catering to various golf and resort property clientele, including SCO (Single Course Operator) destinations and large-scale MCO (Multi-Course Resort and Operators) with facilities nationwide. Some notable MCOs that have embraced Club Caddie’s technology suite include Arcis Golf, Great Life Golf, Touchstone Golf, Sierra Golf Management, and X-Golf America.
Despite being acquired by Jonas Software, one of the constants behind the Club Caddie technology platform is the leadership, led by Pearsall and his team of co-founders. This continuity is crucial because Club Caddie’s foundation is rooted in the insights and common experiences of golf course owners and operators alike.
Turning Adversity into Opportunities
The pandemic dramatically disrupted global economics, adversely impacting numerous industries. However, the golf industry experienced a nationwide renaissance, with golf course business booming by all metrics, from participation to revenue growth and overall general interest. Of course, the outdoor recreational nature of golf, being a safe place to be and play the game, played a pivotal role in the rejuvenated nature of the industry, according to Pearsall.
“Due to golf being an outdoor activity, COVID was good for golf, which helped us gain more clients,” Pearsall added. It is worth noting the role technology played in this transformational period as new technological advancements emerged to address the changing habits of golfers and members at public and private facilities and ultimately simplify the management of the golf industry’s many different business units.
For instance, one of the popular solutions these emerging technology platforms provided was allowing golfers and/or members and visitors to book tee times, order takeout meals, and conduct general online membership business at a time when personal contact was being limited as much as possible. Ironically, the ease of increasingly conducting e-commerce transactions is commonplace for most consumers these days. Yet, it was a concept slow to be widely adopted by golf course owners and operators. Consequently, these cloud-based programs and applications initially introduced by many golf operators as a solution to the coronavirus pandemic are becoming more commonly embraced, and the golf course business remains busier in part due to the ongoing technology revolution sweeping through the back offices of golf facilities.
Why Choose Club Caddie?
Club Caddie’s overarching mission revolves around accessibility. The company aims to make high-quality, cloud-based golf course management software available to a wide range of golf courses. Club Caddie’s unique approach involves transparent monthly fees, ensuring affordability and simplicity.
Another attractive element of Club Caddie is the ability to efficiently manage both private and public golf courses, making the platform a valuable asset for various establishments. Moreover, Club Caddie’s software provides automated trend and MIR (Management Information Report) reports, streamlining essential operational data. Furthermore, it seamlessly integrates with most accounting systems, simplifying financial management.
The most distinctive edge of Club Caddie is evident in its development process. Every aspect of the software undergoes rigorous testing and refinement, guided by a team comprising PGA professionals, Food and Beverage Directors, Event Coordinators, GMs (General Managers), and Revenue Managers. This diverse expertise ensures that Club Caddie’s software seamlessly aligns with the practical needs of golf course operations on all levels of size and scale.
Club Caddie is also actively engaged within the ecosystem of all facets of the golf course industry. For instance, Pearsall and the company can be seen exhibiting at the annual Golf Business Conference held by the National Golf Course Owners Association, the PGA Show, Golf Inc’s Strategy Summit, and Club Caddie proudly sponsors the prestigious Multi-Course Resort & Operators Retreat, demonstrating their dedication to industry involvement and long-term relationships.
Maximizing Customer Satisfaction for Smooth Business Expansion
Customer support is a cornerstone of Club Caddie’s service. They take pride in having one of the industry’s largest supports, training, and professional services teams, ensuring assistance is readily available whenever needed. Moreover, their commitment to improvement extends beyond the initial purchase. Club Caddie consistently provides monthly system enhancements, ensuring its software continually evolves to meet the changing demands of the industry.
One of the most compelling aspects of Club Caddie is its Software-for-Life Policy. “Unlike other companies that charge for major product upgrades, we do not,” Pearsall emphasizes. “Through our Software-for-Life policy, we guarantee our commitment to enhancing and developing applications that best suit the long-term technology needs of our clients.” This commitment is rooted in Club Caddie’s recognition of the evolving business landscape and the significance of staying dynamic and relevant in a golf course business that has many moving business parts and revenue channels.
Furthermore, as a part of the Jonas Software family, Club Caddie benefits from the stability and support of its parent company, Constellation Software Inc. This strong financial foundation ensures Club Caddie can uphold its Software-for-Life Promise. Constellation Software Inc. is a powerhouse, ranking as the second-largest software company in Canada, and it has earned prestigious accolades, including recognition as one of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies.
Lastly, it is worth highlighting the assurance that Club Caddie has staying power for its clients. In other words, as part of the Jonas Software family, Club Caddie is protected from being acquired by competitors, ensuring continuity for clients who rely on the company’s software solutions. This guarantee offers peace of mind to those seeking stability in both their shorter and longer-term technological tools.
Approach to Team Dynamics
Pearsall’s Club Caddie team follows a well-defined philosophy anchored in core values. These values serve as guiding principles that shape the team’s interactions with clients, decision-making processes, and day-to-day operations.
One fundamental aspect of this philosophy is a company culture that recognizes the importance of learning from mistakes. This growth mindset approach is clear and begins at the top, with Pearsall leading by example. The team is encouraged to be action-driven, constantly seeking opportunities for improvement. Importantly, employees are not only welcome to make mistakes but they’re also expected to fail on occasion. This expectation does not indicate leniency but acknowledges that mistakes provide valuable learning experiences. By embracing these errors, Jason’s team can work towards honing their skills and achieving a higher performance standard.
In addition to embracing mistakes, Pearsall instills a culture of accountability within the team. Each member takes responsibility for their actions and decisions, ensuring transparency and trust among colleagues. Pearsall’s team also maintains a customer-centric perspective. Every action and decision the team makes is evaluated based on how it benefits the client. This commitment to prioritizing the customer’s needs ensures that client satisfaction remains paramount.
Commitment to Innovation
Club Caddie’s commitment to innovation serves as a driving force behind the business. This dedication is evident through the practice of regularly introducing new products and software upgrades, which are distributed every month. These updates encompass more than mere additions; they entail a comprehensive methodology, incorporating enhancements, meticulous bug assessments, and fixes. The overarching objective is to provide clients with a seamless and trouble-free experience.
Furthermore, the Club Caddie staff approaches golf club operations holistically. They meticulously examine every facet of the club, leaving no stone unturned. This scrutiny encompasses all aspects of the client’s facility, whether it be the restaurant and banquet business, golf rounds, or golf shop inventory control. The ultimate goal is crystal clear: to enhance and optimize every aspect of the golf course, ensuring a more efficient and enjoyable experience for both golfing customers and golf course staff.
Balancing Business and Pleasure
Being a part of the golf industry holds significant meaning for Pearsall. It is not solely a business endeavor but a passion and privilege that allow him to combine his love for the game with his work. His involvement in the golf business goes beyond a mere profession; it’s a profound personal interest rooted in his love for the game.
Working on a golf course offers a unique opportunity to merge business with pleasure. It is a chance to collaborate with friends who share a common interest. Pearsall and his Club Caddie colleagues have taken their enthusiasm a step further by either playing high-level professional golf in their previous careers at one point, pursuing PGA Professional and/or Club Managers Association of America certification, or, in the case of Pearsall, even owning and/or running golf courses. This elevates their job beyond the ordinary; it is akin to playing golf with friends and family, fostering deep connections.
Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
As demonstrated by the success of his entrepreneurial endeavors, not to mention his rich academic, business, and legal background, Pearsall offers keen insights into the qualities that shaped his successful entrepreneurial career. His decisions to address industry challenges have proven to be smart business moves. Following are a couple of snippets of valuable advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs.
- There is always somebody chasing the path you are on. Because inches of separation make or break start-ups, you must stay committed to working harder than your competitors.
- If you want to be the best at anything that you do, you need to spend every waking moment thinking about and working on it. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you are passionate about what you do.
Pearsall’s Takeaway Quote:
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