With the imminent launch of the ‘Your Race to Dubai’ European Tour Game, and their expansion to the Middle East, In this edition of “Within the Boardroom” UAE Golf Online are intrigued to speak to Mikko Manerus, the Co- Founder & CEO of Golf Gamebook (GG) based in Finland. We welcome him to this feature and hope you enjoy his answers below. If you or your golf brand boss would like to be featured, please contact us.
1 – How was the company founded and what is your back ground?
As both tournament players, we (myself and other Founder Kalle Väinölä) played in many pro-am tournaments and other events where we saw the same thing happening over and over again: amateurs we played with where anxious and excited to start the game, but way too often the excitement was gone well before the round was finished. We thought that the game of golf deserved to be more fun. We wanted to make it a lot easier for players to both enter and count a score and to play more of those great game formats golf has to offer. Then we just decided to create the best golf scorecard in the world. The same original thought, making golf even more fun, still carries us and the company. The biggest change has been technological. We have got rid of manufacturing GameBook devices and focusing on creating and developing the Golf GameBook application only.
2 – What do you think makes a good CEO?
You need to find the right persons for the right places and help them to achive their best every day. Think big and have huge goals, be brave and believe in yourself and the ones that you work with. I also want to know all the feedback that we get from our customers and act on it.
At the end of the day you have to be what you are.
3 – GG have now been in operation since 2007, what deal or sale are you most pleased with in the development so far?
I think the ones that we have already done in UK; Mastercard, BMW, Taylormade, HSBC, American Golf deals have been a huge success for us and for the brands as well. Now we are about to start a new campaign, Your Race To Dubai, with European Tour and if you take a look on those brands that European Tour work with, I feel proud that European Tour has qualified GameBook as one! And of course it will be great opportunity for us to work with Dubai Golf. Emirates GC and Dubai Creek are both world-class tracks and I feel that this is a real win-win situation for Dubai Golf and Golf GameBook. We also have lot going on in US but we will announce these later.
1 – GG is unique in many ways, could you give a couple of your personal favourite features?
All the social features! I love to comment from the office when my friends are playing. Some times they do good and some times bad but there is always something that I can give them during the round! I don´t know if they feel a like ;) It´s also nice to see photos from all over the world. Photo always gives you the feeling of what the players are experiencing. I always try to look our product from users perspective and I feel that it is really easy and fun to use. It makes scoring faster and more exciting. In events GameBook enhances the golf experience. Hole-by-Hole live scoring, commenting, sharing photos and it gives you the final scores right after the last putt is holed. And when players has left the club you can share all scores, photos and comments under one website called Game Site. Game Site is generated automatically for every event!
2 – In your opinion how is the health of the Golf Industry in your home country, Finland and how does that compare to other parts of Europe/world that you are aware of?
In Finland number of golfers has increased until the 2014. 2014 we ended up with a break even but the trend that other countries in Europe have been fighting with is decreasing number of golfers. And with my back ground I feel that we need to get more juniors to join and for all others we should make golf more fun and this is why we have founded Golf GameBook. In Finland we have also another problem that we share with the whole world and that is memberships. It´s pretty hard to sell memberships these days.
3 – Do you think Golf in General grasps digital/social media marketing and power enough?
I have to say no. Golfers usually have the newest smartphones and there are lot more that golf could benefit from. World is going mobile and this is a fact. We at the Golf GameBook are already living this new mobile era of golf and we welcome everyone to join!
We will see same big things happening in golf in next couple of years that has happened for other sports and life in general. E.g. new smart or sport watches works really well in golf.
4 – As a brand, how do you choose which partners to work with, what is your criteria?
We want to be where all the biggest brands in golf are and I see us as an advertising platform. This means that I see us working with all the golf brands and brands that work with golf. But basically any brand that wants to reach high qualified audience of golfers are welcome.
5 – Are you a golfer? If so What is your handicap?
I´m a Pro and a member of PGA so no handicap. I use to play on European Challenge Tour for some years before entering business world.
6 – Where would you like to take GG in the future? Do you have a vision in place already for the next few years?
Golf is going digital and mobile and we want to be part of that so our goal is to be the best mobile scorecard for golf! That is the ultimate goal and I work everyday to reach that goal.
7 – What with the youngsters supposedly not taking up the game for many reasons, from the data you have gathered so far, is there any demographics on the age groups of players using the APP/SYSTEM to support this?
We see that younsters use their smartphones for everything and it´s same with our product. It´s only natural that they use our app when playing. But to get more youngsters to join, I don´t think that GameBook can crack that problem. We can keep them when they have started playing with all the social features we have. All content has to have the opportunity to be shared with friends or world and this is something that we work for. Youngsters do this naturally already.
8 – If you were in control of Golf in your region/area/globally, what are a few changes you would like to implement?
I would like to see golf adapting digitalization and mobile apps with a respect. What I mean by this is using technology to enhance e.g. member´s tournaments providing live scoring or sharing a photo of you playing at Pebble Beach instantly with your friends. In general we need grow the game globally and we need try new things to make it grow. I think one big new thing is Rio 2016 and I hope we know how to take advantage of it for the good of the game.
We would like to thank Mikko for his time and wish Golf GameBook every success moving forward, please visit – www.golfgamebook.com for more information. Or if you want to play the Your Race to Dubai Game visit – www.yourracetodubai.com
If you or your golf brand boss would like to be featured, please contact us