GolfLAN raises $1M from YourNest and Africa’s iSON Group

GolfLAN, Asia’s online golf
community and marketplace, has raised $1 million from existing investors,
YourNest Angel Fund and Africa’s leading IT/ITES group, iSON. The funds will be
used to expand to regions witnessing a surge in interest for the sport,
especially in Africa, Middle East and SEA countries such as Malaysia,
Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. GolfLAN’s maiden investment round
of $ 1 mn in 2015 saw participation from YourNest and multiple angel investors.

While golf has had
successful patronage in Europe, North America and Japan for a long time and
there are a few online aggregation platforms in developed economies such as the
US, UK, Europe and Canada, GolfLAN is the only comparable aggregator that
serves the needs of golfers in emerging economies. The sport has found new and
fertile markets in the form of Middle East, north Africa and the growing
economies of South East Asia like India, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia,
Thailand and Vietnam. In the last 4 years, the number of golf enthusiasts in
India has sharply gone up, with about 200 thousand people teeing today compared
to 30 thousand in 2010.

The potential for growth is
exponential, with just 300 golf courses across the country compared to more
than 15000 in the US. Out of these 300, over 50 have been built in just the
last 5 years with around 60% having been built in Tier 1 and 2 towns,
highlighting the rapid growth that the sport is witnessing as well as the
diverse backgrounds from which the new players are emerging. As far as Middle
East is concerned, The United Arab Emirates (UAE) now counts 20 courses. It had
none in 1990. Similarly, Morocco now has 40 places to play golf, up from 12 in
2000 while Dubai and Abu Dhabi today host annual professional tournaments like
Omega Dubai Desert classic.

On GolfLAN’s cloud-based
SaaS platform OTTO (Online Tee Time Organiser), golfers from anywhere in the
world can book tee slots in over 1000 courses across 40 countries, apart from
finding golf equipment and trainers. Within 5 years, GolfLAN has grown to 20000
users and in terms of revenue, saw a 400% increase in the last 18 months. In
July 2016, it acquired a Dubai-based golf technology company, StayPrime, in a
$1 million deal. StayPrime’s products and services have been in use in several
golf courses, including Valderrama Golf Course in Spain and Wentworth in the
UK. With this acquisition, GolfLAN has strengthened its technology platform with
more value-added capabilities for providing a superior user experience.

Dhruv Verma, CEO, GolfLAN

GolfLAN has been founded by
Dhruv Verma, an XLRI alumnus with over 14 years of experience across BFSI, BPO
and Telecom spearheading Sales, Strategy, and Learning and Development. Dhruv
is also an avid golfer and started GolfLAN in 2013 with an aim to improve
access to the sport for the growing tribe of golf players while providing a
platform for golf courses across continents.

“Golf is rapidly moving
into mainstream and is shedding its status as a sport that is the forte of the
‘rich’ or ‘elite’. As more players aspire to learn and play golf, we are
witnessing a proliferation of golf courses across countries in the Middle East,
South East Asia and Africa, apart from India, signalling a dizzying growth for
the sport. This sparked the need for an aggregation platform that brings all
stakeholders under one roof and thus GolfLAN came about. Our growth in the last
3 years validates this”, said Dhruv Verma, CEO, GolfLAN.

“GolfLAN is building a
solid and focused niche that is getting stronger as golf continues to become
more mainstream. The company directly responds to the need of the growing
community of golfers in emerging economies, and we are impressed with the
adoption in such a short while. It offers them multiple opportunities for
growth and revenue generation as they become the platform of choice for the
rapidly increasing community of golfers in Asia.”, said Sunil Goyal, founder
and CEO, YourNest Angel Fund.

Ramesh Awtaney, Founder and
Chairman of iSON group, has also taken up a minority stake in GolfLAN. “GolfLAN
has a well-established business model across Asia and the Middle East. We
believe that the company has great potential to enter the African market in
countries like South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria where golf is gaining
popularity. Our presence and knowhow in these regions will expedite their foray
into these markets,” he said. Ramesh is also a Limited Partner in YourNest
Angel Fund.