Ep #48 – Behind the Brand Golf Podcast | Rain or Shine Golf | Zach Vanderveldt (Co-Founder)

Paul Liberatore Paul Liberatore
August 9, 2021

We made it to Episode 48 of the Behind the Golf Brand Podcast. In this week’s episode, I interview my good friends Zach Vanderveldt from Rain or Shine Golf. Rain or Shine Golf Founder, Shawn Foley (Zach’s business partner) spent countless hours chipping golf balls around the house and building mini-golf courses to improve his […]

We made it to Episode 48 of the Behind the Golf Brand Podcast. In this week’s episode, I interview my good friends Zach Vanderveldt from Rain or Shine Golf.

Rain or Shine Golf Founder, Shawn Foley (Zach’s business partner) spent countless hours chipping golf balls around the house and building mini-golf courses to improve his short game during the cold and long Wisconsin winters. With golf being a family affair for the Foley’s, Shawn and his father made many attempts at creating at-home golf experiences, but one instance stands out the most.

When Shawn was in high school, the basement flooded. His family decided to implement a subfloor in an attempt to mitigate damages in case of another flood. Additionally, they built a 200 square-foot putting green, laying turf on top and drilling putting cups into the floor. This experience was the inspiration for building the Rain or Shine brand. Today, the company is the industry’s leading unbiased resource to help anyone outfit their home with a dream golf simulator set-up.

Speaker 1 (00:00): Paul (01:09): What's up guys, Paul from Golfers Authority. Welcome to the Behind the Golf Brand Podcast. This week, I have my friend Zach Vanderveldt from Rain or Shine Golf. If you guys aren't all rain or shine authors, you're going to know very soon because it's pretty much like premier place to get anything for like training, like Sims. Like it's pretty cool. Like what these guys did over the last couple of years, how they took, you know, all this hodgepodge information out there and how to build a sip and you know, all this stuff. And they actually built a business around it and like helping guys, like all of us, you know, build, you know, either a SIM in your house or get the right equipment. So you can go practice and have, you know, like the latest attack. Like it's really cool. It's a niche. It was even being like catered really. It's kind of like half-ass out there, but it's so cool. So check, check out their website. Well, we'll talk about that in a minute. So without further ado, welcome to the shows act. Yeah, thanks for having me Paul Zack's from Wisconsin, but he likes the Redwings. Explain that. Yeah. Uh, well we don't have a hockey team, which is so weird, right? Yeah. Yeah. And I wasn't about to be a Blackhawks fan. No offense. The big Mustang fans out there.

Paul (02:29): Oh yeah. I used to be, well, I still am. We'll have to end this call and, oh, sorry. I'm in a black box man. I'm in the Iowa team. Um, but yeah, I dunno. It just, uh, my dad was a big hockey player and he actually played with a couple of the players on the red wing. So from the nineties, so yeah, we just kind of piggy backed off of that and like who, uh, Federoff surrogate, Federoff, and a couple of Russian players, Jenn Russians. Or was he like, that's like way, one of the few people who know that it's even a country, it's a small, small country. Right.

Zach (03:20): I feel it's another country over there. There's like three of them. Right? Yeah. So your dad, was it, did your dad play the NHL or do you feel like Russian hockey or what'd he do? Yeah. He played over in Russia. They've got a rational. Yeah, that's good. And uh, he came over here, uh, played for Wisconsin badgers for a little while, uh, college. But like, do you want to like, do you want to go pro and didn't happen or yeah, he did. Uh, yeah. Um, he was, he was pursuing it. I mean, I think, uh, yeah, no, I mean, it just didn't work out. You know how it works, you know, sometimes it's really hard when injuries and, but he did play professionally in Europe for a while. So what position did your dad play? He was a Klansman.

Zach (04:20): That's the hardest job on the ice side personally. Cause you're like, oh yeah, you got to skate ski a lot more than most of the guys, because you're always like, yeah, I got the easy job. It's really what left or right wing or center. I was a signer. I was a sinner. You're a hockey player. I'm a hockey player. I played hockey out in Arizona when there's only, we only had three rinks for hockey. I hear it was horrible and crap. It was like slushie always. So I get never, you know, like it was, yeah. I feel that now being down here in Charlotte, there's a little bit of hockey, but it's not the same as back, back up at home. But this team though, the hurricane, was it Carolina, hurricane answers, but they're all in Florida, but they're out of Raleigh. So it's a bit of a hard drive, right?

Paul (05:17): It's like, what two hours? A couple hours. Well, that's what happened here. Like when I buy right. When I went to college, like the coyotes came here and it was an awesome, because they were downtown. Downtown's like 20 minutes to them, no matter where you lived in Phoenix at the time, but then they had a great idea. They wanted to arena. You go put it on the west side of town, which I don't like, and it's an hour and 15 minutes to the place. I'm like, I'm not going forget it. Like why would I drive out demons to a hockey game? There's just no way. You're not even that good. So it makes no sense.

Zach (05:56): Show goes, man. I'm like, I love hot. Yeah. That was my first sport. And that was a sport I took a little bit more seriously, but golf was always, uh, probably my favorite, my more of my, my, my jam. So you're not like a pro or anything, right? No, no, no, no. I mean, my handicap says I'm a four, but I'm playing more like a seven right now. I mean my, my business partner, he's, he's, he's more of the golfer is a plus one. So he's pretty good. Every time I got there. But uh, yeah, I mean, I've hit a fade my entire life and I finally recently fixed it and it's hitting like this nice straight ball or tiny mini draw. And I was all fired up about it at a couple of nice rounds and then what happened? And, and then I started getting on my head and all we're thinking things, and God knows what I'm shooting, but, uh, that's all golf goes, you know, overthink things. And, but yeah, I'm more of a casual golfer for sure.

Zach (07:24): I mean, you're hitting below 80, right. So you're not, I'm totally embarrassing serviceable. I used to, I used to, I used to be below 80 and then I just, like, I was golfing every day and I'm just like, when you play like a ton of golf, like every day you could good, you know, because you just learn. It's like, you're always like, okay, that's what I did wrong. But then it's like, I don't even know what my handicap is. I'm actually, like I talked to, I started getting lessons again, like, just because I want to, my goal is to break 80 the next year. Like I want to, like, I want to do that. Like literally it may be like, my goal is probably to like break 80 and like chord it, you know? And like show people like, look, you can do it if you just figure it out, whatever. And so like, I got it. We'll figure it out. It's gonna be really bad. It's gonna be so embarrassing. I'm afraid to say it. That's all right, dude, you're on a website and your handcuffs that bad and I'll be like, all right, you think I am snacking on snack. So you grew up in Wisconsin, right? And I'm sorry, I'm sorry for you was a Purdue.

Zach (08:46): Okay. I will say that despite the badgers being pretty good, that's the part about them. They are good always in contention. And then they just find a way to rip your heart out and the most evil way she going to Michigan state, same thing. They always say bad. Right? So like, if we win, it's just like cool. Exactly. And they never rip your heart out though. The badgers it's always like, oh, this is our year. We're finally gonna win a championship or finally going away. And they always just get it done forever. I graduated from Purdue and like that next fall was like amazing. And doesn't drew like half that team when it in, right. Like jewelry, like all these guys. So my fraternity brothers at the time I was 22. I was like your age, just kidding the other day. And I like, I was like, he just graduated from ASU.

Zach (10:00): And I was like, looking at, I was looking at his, like, he was like a picture on his Instagram of him and his mom. And I'm like, oh, like some of the high school was like that. I realize like, oh I can, I can use dude's dad anyway, sorry I digress. But then she gave me 20 to 29. I remember when I was 29, 40 something, 43 dudes, thirties, thirties. I was in law school. That was, but I had two babies two at the time. So it was really hard. But I go to the rose bowl. Right. Cause poo made the rose bowl first time in 20 years. Right. So last time they did was 1970 something. Right. 25 years, like 74, we were so bad. The last two quarterback was Jim Everett. If anybody wants to know, like the history like produce it, like has had a good quarterback every 25 years.

Zach (10:50): Like, and before that was Brian Green, Brian greasy as the dad. Right. I don't understand to remember a greasy played for the bears. Yeah. In Michigan. Anyways, we call the rose bowl. It's fricking the coolest thing ever. Right. We're going to ask it from fricking Washington. Like it was like, we didn't even show up back there. It was so sad. And of course I have like a rose bowl. T-shirts it's like rose bowl and it's like, they lost. I was like, I don't want to wear it. You know? I know what it's like to lose in the rose bowl. There's no better than anyone. So from UDaB and then what you do, like where you work, what was your degree in, uh, marketing and supply chain? Uh, so yeah, yeah. Yeah. But honestly like, yeah. They teach you a lot of like book stuff in college and stuff like that.

Zach (11:44): So college is so overrated. Like kids, you think college be a good job? No, you don't. You seem to be smart. You need to go to college. You don't need to go. I have a lot of college. I can tell you right now, college kids. Yeah. I mean, I love Madison. I love awesome. The education was great, but like, I mean, at the time you just figure stuff out. Like when you're starting like a small business, like you just gotta figure stuff out. Um, so that's kind of our strategy. But anyway, after I graduated college, I started working for Kohler company, a big kitchen and bath basically got a little bored and I can't see why it wasn't for me. And, uh, my business partner, he was working, Sean. He was working in insurance and it's like even more boring. You can make a lot of money in insurance, but only after like 40 years at it, you have like a pyramid underneath.

Zach (12:50): You have people that have like, so we just had an entrepreneurial itch, I guess, wanted to start our own company. That was a little bit more fun than a year. Was that like, when did you guys have been friends forever, right? Yeah. We, we were high school golf teammates. That's where we got to know each other and buds. And then, uh, yeah, we just kind of stayed in touch after high school obviously. And then, uh, yeah, after I only made it like, yeah, I only made it like 10 or 11 months in the corporate world before I'm like, okay, I want to start something on my, I was able to, the first time I did and then I quit. I was like, I can't do this.

Zach (13:36): I had this thought I've heard driving in traffic for reals. Right. I was 22, 23. I was stuck in traffic and there's cars everywhere. It was like seven 45 in the morning. Right. And I go, like, I got this really sad feeling and I'm like, oh my God. I'm like, you just realize like, uh, college is like nothing like the real world. And you're like my first job. Well, my first job was I worked for America, west airlines. Right. And they're not American. My first job out of college was I did, I was 23, probably doing internal investigations for maintenance related like issues where I then would like, so like, I'll give you an example. Like when the jobs with time, like, you know, engine cowling is like a big thing around in Germany. Airplane, that thing fell off right. During takeoff in Las Vegas, it fell off and just hit the ground.

Zach (14:34): Right. And you didn't fall off, but the whole cup, cause the dude, the night before didn't lock down. Right. So came back to university landing. You know, my job was I had to go figure out what happened, why it happened. I had a right to the, I gotta tell the FAA. Right? Cause if you don't tell the FAA to get fines, what you do is you self-disclose, that is the worst job in the world. You know why you literally had NAR, that's what you are. Right. Everybody doing the repairs, the guy got fired is a lot worse, but me it's like, I hated that job. I had a job, every part of my body. And then I was like, this is obviously a bit more than the story I can relate to that. So then I hated this job, right? So this is the cool part of my story.

Zach (15:16): I said, he never told us before, so I wanted to be a pilot. Right. That's what I'm doing after this. So I want to be a part, I know that's what school for, but I needed to get a job and have to fight lessons. So one time I had to do an investigation and do I go to the fight group? And I became friends with the senior check airman, which is like the head head guy of like training all the pilots. Right? His name is van rev. Right? So ban, I go to like, literally banned, knew I hated my job, but he's high up in the company. He's like number five pilots. I said, I hate my job. We live in the same neighborhood. I went to high school with the son. Do you know who his son is? Chaz review and the PGA tour. So he'd be like, oh yeah, I went to high school a chance. Right. So she'd be like, oh yeah, chapter ASU. Oh yeah. Chad, Chad is going to the masters or Tez. It's fun masters. I was like, cool. And now I'm like, oh man, that is so rad. Sorry.

Zach (16:16): You never know where the show's going to go. Exactly. So you get your job, like everybody who gets out of college, unless you're like, I don't even know out of college. And then how'd you guys start the site? Like, did you just start building things or yeah, I was just kind of dabbling on the side a little bit. A couple e-commerce businesses. It's okay. I love this stuff. This is the stuff I love. My first site was bean bag chairs. How'd that do terrible, terrible drop shipping? Or are you from China or what? No, it's from the U S but yeah, it was just like, okay. I left and I just, I left this job that I disliked to start a business that I'm not passionate about. Like, what's the point of this? So that was like a big thing. Like we were like, when Sean and I came together, like obviously we had a mutual interest in golf and uh, you know, it just became clear to us.

Zach (17:23): Like we need to start a golf company. Like that's, that's what we love. And, well, I was always taught. I was taught like, if you're going to build a brand seriously, they said, if you're up, you have to ask yourself right before you bake this company or whatever. If it's two o'clock in the morning and something's broken on your website, are you going to give a two o'clock in the morning? Are you going to be like, whatever? And if that's what you have, that's the question you have to ask yourself. And like what it was called, I was like, well, yeah, let's fix it right away. Right. But if it was like back chairs, I'd be like, whatever. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, yeah. If there are any like listeners out there who are looking to start a business and like, you love golf, that'd be my like, tip, like just like do something.

Zach (18:05): You're passionate about whatever that is. Yeah. Because that's just going to keep you going right. When you're making like no money for a long time, it'd be like, well, yeah, I enjoy what I'm doing. Yeah. Even if you're not starting a business too, like, even if you're just working, like just do something and like before you know what, you're old, you don't want this bitter old person. Like, oh, I didn't do anything in my life. No. It's like, yeah, exactly. You're spending now I enjoy this. So boxes. I mean, yeah. I mean, you're spending half of your life at work. You better, better enjoy it. So dude, I've like been a pilot and then I went to law school. I've been a lawyer, I'm a lawyer. And now like I have, I don't know. And I'm always, I like doing, this is my favorite thing to do is like business stuff.

Zach (18:55): I love it as a part of my law job. I like is helping people navigate that and figure that out. Right. And like, it's that? And I don't know. It's just fun to help people, I guess. But I like this better. I'll tell you that for sure. Like, this is so much, I don't know. It's not a job, you know, like what you guys are doing, it's your job, but it's not a job. You know what I mean? Like it's dead. Yeah. It's a lot of fun for sure. Well, you guys both in Wisconsin when you started, like, and then yeah. So yeah, when we started, it was just two of us, you know, working from our laptops, just trying to get started. I mean, we had some awesome partnerships with companies that we work with today. No, just drop shipping, but kind of, kind of a theme of over the last couple of years, we've just tried to continue to try to improve the customer experience and uh, make it a better, more streamlined experience.

Zach (19:54): So, you know, there are multiple different pieces to the golf simulator, you know, puzzle, you got, you know, a golf mat, you got a launch monitor, you got a heading bay, got projector, you got computer AC mic cables and things like that. So, uh, it wasn't the best customer experience when customers are getting things from dropship, from all over the place and then different shipments. So yeah, we, we wanted to kind of streamline that and now we have a warehouse and uh, you know, try to ship everything out all at once. And, um, not only just, you know, the shipping experience, but our website too. That's what we're about. Not trying to just streamline this experience, uh, rather than, you know, people going out and trying to figure this out on their own, you know, especially in sales, right. Like I was taught, one of my mentors taught me.

Zach (20:45): I always think about this. He says a cluttered mind says no, right. He always say that to me. And that's a, that's a, his mentor taught him who owns like half a Sedona now. Right. And so like, I'm like, we were talking about like what you do sales and I wasn't, I was in sales a little bit. And I'm like, what does that even mean? And he's like, look, dude, if you put too much stuff in people's heads at one time, they're just going to shut down. They're just not going to do it. And so you have to, and I was like, and I always think about that, right? Like, you know, if, if you're, if you're not, if they're not talking right, then you need to not be talking either because you're just going to be like, you're just overloading that person with information or whatever.

Zach (21:29): And I feel like that's what the gut, like out of your guys' website, everyone, like I had told him earlier, like, because it looks really good. Like it's very clear and clean and it's like, okay, I can navigate on the homepage and go to where I want. Like, you're not the experience of the user is funneling them to what they want to buy. Not so much like a hodgepodge of everywhere. And it's like, oh, I got my, I gotta buy this. You don't want to say anything. Yeah. A lot to weed through. And you know, there, you know, 20, 30 different golf mats and 20 to relaunch monitors. And you know, one thing that we try to do is literally we will only sell, you know, the best of the best stuff that we actually truly recommend. And sadly, we're, we're one of the few companies out there who are actually using these products on a consistent basis, ourselves, our wholesale CMEs using these products every day.

Paul (22:22): Um, so we definitely kind of pride ourselves on making sure that, you know, when we recommend something that we truly stand by it as, you know, the best solution. So yeah. So that's kind of a part of it too, just really helping people, uh, get rid of the clutter and, you know, to just, rather than having you just navigate a website and you know, we've got our inside sales team too. I was talking to another really big brand company I'm friends with. And what you're saying is literally the same thing that they said too, like we were talking about, I'll say earlier about my, with my new website, right. Like my Legion site. And he's like, it looks great, you know, whatever. It's like, there's certain elements that, you know, and these are telling me things I should change to better the experience. And I didn't think like building a site per information is not the same as building an e-comm site.

Zach (23:17): They're completely different sides. Right. And like, the navigation is so important, especially like with what you guys are doing because very technical, right? Like it's now you're selling a hat, right. Or it's like, you're building, someone's building, you know, like what's the most expensive rain or a simulator set up. It gets above 20,000. Yeah. Right around 20,000. Uh, I mean you could get by with a couple hundred bucks, right. 500 or so most of it's like the launch monitor right. In that kind of yeah. That's like a simple launch monitor that Matt set up a screen, right? Yeah. Yeah. No, you don't to get started. You could just have a simple net, you know, we'll launch monitor. What's that one it's like really expensive. That one launch monitor is like 10 grand. I can't think of the name of it pro uh, I don't think we sell it or you're talking about protein, but, um, the premium ones that we, we go for unique or, um, a really nice overhead launch monitor, awesome endorse and, uh, foresight sports has some awesome watch monitors.

Zach (24:33): Yeah. That's what it was, you know, out on the range with their launch monitors, but they're also great indoors as well. I'm trying to figure it out because like I talked to them, they wanted me to buy one. I was like, dude, I don't have that kind of money. Right. Like, that's like, I mean, that's a thing, you know, it's but it's like the thing you can buy a car, you know, like, yes, that's the thing I think, uh, in the past, people are maybe still people have this perception that you have to drop, you know, 30, 40 grand on one of these things. And it doesn't have to be that you can definitely get started with a cheaper launch monitor and a cheap net and kind of work your way up from there, you know, to get, you know, a really like, you can get an awesome, awesome experience of starting around five.

Zach (25:24): But if you're just trying to, you know, work on your game, work on your swing and your backyard, when you got some free time, like I said, he can get by with a few hundred bucks too. So a lot of different ways you can get into it and that definitely doesn't have to cost you. Well, I think that's, that's something that's interesting too, because you're seeing it with like the smaller launch monitors, like the wrap soda, and then you're not talking about earlier. Like, you know, they're very, very similar when it comes to outdoor. Right. But I feel like the real differentiator, which they're both striving for. I feel like it's right. Like for the guy who wants to do it in his basement right. In the winter time, like, that's, that's what we're about. Yeah. That's what, yeah. That's the money, right? Like not the money, but that's, what's really important.

Zach (26:13): You're not like, oh, I'm cool buying this setup do indoors. Right. Essentially like, yeah. Yeah. And, uh, that was kind of like a big inspiration for wanting to start the company like Sean and I grew up in Wisconsin, we got snow on the ground six months out of the year. So six months out of the year, we can't play golf. And, uh, Sean, when in high school he built a little indoor putting green in his basement. And that was the original idea for the business to be a indoor, putting green business somehow led into, you know, golf simulation as well. But no, that was a big inspiration for us is just to give people a more convenient solution that, you know, play more golf and spend more time with your buds and your kids. Now that's really, really like what we're truly about. It's not necessarily about helping people hit longer drives or shoot lower scores.

Zach (27:17): I mean, of course who, doesn't, what golfer doesn't want to shoot lower scores and hit longer drives. But at the end of the day, we kind of were, we see our products as a way to get people the hangout or, you know, during the winter or to go at night, it's like, man, like kids are sitting on their iPads every night, like on the couch, like what if we can like get them to be hanging out with, you know, their dad or mom and sister, like in the basement, like plan on a SIM, you know, playing golf. That's that's what fires us up. I guess I got to figure out how to put a semi garage. I don't know. Like we still opened the garage. Like, so I don't know. I'm looking at my, my garage right now. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That one's yeah, that one's probably, most of our customers put 'em in their garage.

Zach (28:18): Like I don't have the ceiling height and my house. I don't think I do what the garage, if you got like eight feet, I mean, just get out of your driver and see if he can, you can pull it off. But most of our customers put them in their garage and that's a so way to go. Isn't a great website. Like for reals, it's just so clean. Like it's so clear and it's, I don't know, like I don't really compliment I'm a website. Right. So I'm like, okay, I like it. I like what you guys do. Like what you did. I know you're ranking for somebody of Keeler to senior guys, like, you know, which is awesome because you gotta remember you're for people out there he's e-com right. It's almost impossible for an e-com brand to rank for keywords, like best of whatever. Right. Like it just is like, Google doesn't allow it, but you guys do and it's all right there. Like if you want to build like something in your house, like, what's your price point. Okay. Well here's what you can get. And you also simplify the process, right. Because you're like, here are all the pieces, right? Like you buy this set, here's the pieces put together, not like, oh, I have to buy that. I've got to figure out. So it makes the best or this stuff's made.

Zach (29:43): Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And yeah, again too, like just a lot of people, I think one interesting thing over the last year and kind of like a, uh, e-commerce statistic, I guess, but, uh, e-commerce grew in one year, what they're, we're projecting in 10 years. So all of a sudden people who, uh, weren't shopping online, all of a sudden, you know, all of their stores got shut down and now all of a sudden they're forced to shop online. So, uh, that's something that we like are empathetic about and like, we want to accommodate the people who are now all of a sudden shopping online and, uh, have never made a purchase like this online. You know, we, we want to try to provide that level of, I guess, care that you would literally yes, exactly. You get that feeling. And when I'm on the site that you're literally showing them around.

Zach (30:43): Right. Like, okay, I want to look at this, like, here's over here, you know, even though it's a website that's very hard to yeah, yeah, yeah. And you call us up and like our guys actually know, and gals actually know what they're talking about. They've, they've tried these products out themselves and they can walk you through that process. Just like, you know, someone who would walk you through a real, you know, in a retail store. So, uh, that's something that we know. I think it's interesting just, yeah, we definitely pride ourselves on and yeah, last year, obviously just with, with COVID, uh, through all of us through a big whirlwind, how was last year? Uh, pretty bananas. I mean, obviously people were stuck at home naturally wanted no in home set up. Uh, so demand was through the roof, but also we had a lot of supply issues and we're still dealing with some supply issues.

Zach (31:47): So a lot of the launch monitor, uh, you know, components were back ordered and having some issues, we just couldn't keep up, frankly. And it was, uh, it was tough. It was a big, big challenge from, from that standpoint. But, um, you know, certainly very, uh, blessed cause you know, a lot, a lot of companies obviously last year didn't do so well. So, um, yeah, it was, it was a crazy crazy year for sure. So you guys have an affiliate program. Are you guys, are you guys tailoring it more now? Uh, yes. We, I mean, we do have an affiliate program. Yeah. Just want to get the word out more about what we're doing. So, you know, work with, you know, some companies like, like yours, I guess, and other bloggers. And so you have a high Dr. Like, you know, a DRG, right? Yeah.

Speaker 3 (32:46): Yeah. Like I know you're a nerd. I know it. I know I've seen your website. I know

Zach (32:52): On the back we got, I know right away. I'm not the only nerd. Hey, I'm a nerd. It's cool as hell. That's smart as well. You're, you're, you're a higher der than I am for all the nerds out there. The honors domain rating. And this shows you how strong your backlink profile is. And it means that you can use a lot of back. That means that people are linking to his website, that Eva is not even selling. Like they're still lying, like, because they're an authority, right? Like you're an authority on Sims. And hopefully, hopefully that's because you know, our products are awesome. And people who did all your SEO stuff, did you, uh, I started to kind of pass it on, pass it on to our team and because you're busy, you're like, I can't do all this. They're smarter than I am. So I just like sits better that way right now.

Zach (33:51): Um, HRS while you're talking, I'm like, why is this? I'm like, dude. And then I'm like, oh, I see why. That's awesome though. Because I mean, you got links from Gulf WRX. You have links from golf news net. I mean, there's some big sites, Gulf, Steve. That's crazy. Yeah. Hopefully. I mean, one thing that we're kind of focusing on is just creating more of our own analysis products. So I think a lot of people just have this perception that we're just restyling all this stuff and more starting to create our own in-house products. So one of them, for example, is a golf mat and we're in a nice spot where we get tons of customer feedback from people, you know, like the reasonable, why we created swing turf. This golf mat was because our, one of our best selling golf bats, people were saying, oh, this thing is too tough.

Zach (34:49): Like my joints are starting to hurt. And we had this other golf mat that, you know, people were saying, oh, it's a little bit too forgiving. Like it's not even realistic really. So we kind of took that feedback like, okay, like let's create the golf mat with like the perfect level of forgiveness that our customers are asking for. So we created swing turf. And, uh, now we're just kind of trying to snowball that we want to pray more of our own in-house products just based off of what people are asking for and we're listening. So, um, so it was like the initial vision of rain or shine. Was that like more of an affiliate site or was it a drop shipping site? It was drop shipping, starting out as like we talked about margins with drop shipping is affiliate. Right. I mean, obviously. Yeah. Yeah.

Zach (35:40): And, and we were willing, we wanted to do the customer service, uh, you know, Sean, my co-founder was starting out, you know, taking all of our customer calls and he enjoyed it. And that's what people wanted. Like they didn't want to just a website, like wanted to be able to reach out to us to talk to them. I have questions. It's not like, it's not like, oh, okay. I get it. You know? Yeah, yeah, yeah. So yeah, we started out drop shipping. I mean, cause we had to, like we talked about before the call, we're pretty scrappy and didn't have a ton of money or just fresh out of college. Yeah. That's all we started. But yeah. Now we're, you know, we've, we've scaled things up. We got a warehouse and uh, a team and things like that, but that's like the Cinderella story, man, seriously, for like people in the know, like for guys out there that want to like do their own thing and like start their own brand.

Zach (36:36): Like here's a perfect example. It's hard. Like I work with a lot of people like you and it's very, there's not a lot of people out there that like figured it out as they went along. If that makes sense. Like, like if you say, well, I don't have any money, how can I start a website? It doesn't cost that much money to start a website. Right? Like if you can find drop shippers or you can find affiliate, there's ways of funding your site to make money right now that listen that on YouTube where it's like, oh, I made $10,000 on that doesn't exist. I'll tell you right now that doesn't exist. Or I sold it. So that's a thing. Uh, yeah. I it's like I hear all the time, like from like different buddies and people reaching out to me like, and then they just go into it, like as like a cash grab situation.

Zach (37:24): Right. The reason why like we've been successful is because like we, you know, had the right mindset where we're like, we're here to like help people and that's the way we run our business, doing it the right way. Uh, I think that's just super important. So yeah. No, I totally agree. And like, you can just tell, I can tell you what you're doing. Like this is, I think this is the first time I've actually like ever have seen somebody know what they're doing. I know you're doing it. Like it's smart. No, like for real, most people will just be like, I have a product it's X or I have a brand it's Y but they don't think like anything else. Right. They don't think about the infrastructure, the supply chain, the website, you know, like, how am I going to get traffic to my website?

Zach (38:11): That's a huge, big deal. Like, that's the biggest deal of all of this, because none of that stuff matters. The ability to go into your site. And I could tell like, you guys did it right? Like kudos that's bad actually. Like, I mean, you rank for some keywords and I'm like, holy crap. Like, did you know you rank, I'm gonna tell you this. I like, I'm a nerd. So look at us like you are number four on Google for simulator, they gets 25,000 searches a month. We're a golf simulator now. Best golf simulator. Just the word golf simulator. Right? That's it, that's a big deal because you know, hard it is to do that. Like that's super, super, super, super hard. And you guys are, I mean, that's your number one page, by the way, that's everyone keyword. But like, I just think that's amazing because you're probably getting traffic.

Zach (39:00): I can tell you how we got there because we put out a really good article that we actually put a ton of time into. That's why try it out. The products ourselves. That's why Google rewarded it. Yeah, exactly. I don't understand like, you know, crapping crap out. Right? So like, if you don't write a good article or you don't give a good information, Google knows, sorry. It's like, they just know. So it's like, they go, oh, but not all the time. I know if you're going to argue with me and I'd be like, well, what about this website? They're number one for this keyword. Well, it's not perfect. Right. But I mean, if you here's a good example, like that article probably ranks for thousands of keywords. That's just one of them, you know? So is your background like in, like when you meet the first version of rain or shine, is that you and your partner with me?

Zach (39:48): The website. Oh, you right. I built the website, but it was our idea together. Yeah. I think Sean and I from the beginning have had very comparable elementary skill sets. That's awesome. It's nice to that. We're such close friends. I was in the best man in his wedding. That's special because yeah. It's hard to partner. It's really hard to have a partner for one. But number two, that like, you guys are friends, you guys did this together. Like we're very yang and yang, like things that I like to do and I'm good at, he's not good at and vice versa. Like, I don't think you would've had the growth the way you guys had it. If you didn't have each other. Oh yeah, yeah, definitely. Uh, or you would look like me. You'd be like, oh man, it's not easy now having a business partner, but it's been no.

Zach (40:42): I mean, but just so you guys can delegate, but you're able to just compliment each other and be like, okay, you do this. And I do that. You just know it gets done. Not like I do everything and I'm tired. I'm take a nap, you know? Yeah, for sure. Give it, give each other a knuckle sandwich, like a Midwestern. There has to be a Midwest thing. Seriously grills. I really think it is. I get called out from time to time. Now I'm down here in Charlotte. Why did you guys pick Charlotte? Because of the winter we moved there first, like places to live. Yeah. So Shawn, so my wife and I, our whole family's up in Wisconsin and we're pretty cozy and happy where were pretty cozy and happy in Wisconsin and Sean and his fiance at the time were like, guys, we can't, we can't do this anymore.

Zach (41:45): Love Wisconsin, but Canada, winter as it was probably one of those winners that extended in the bay or something they had had about enough. And I think original idea was she got a job offer in Memphis. And to that, anyone who's listening from that, that's no offense, but it wasn't at the top of it. Yeah. The move. And then she got another job offer in Charlotte. That seems like a pretty cool place to move. Good golf, good weather, good people. So somehow I ended up here a lot of golfers down here. So now we knew when they moved, we needed to open our first office. That was back in 2018. Um, so a little bit easier to hire down in Charlotte than up in Wisconsin. So I could see that we wanted to hire like, you know, golfers to what was year round. Right? Like it's not like your golf is not four months. Yeah, yeah. No, no. I mean maybe like once in a while.

Zach (42:58): So that's been nice, but yeah, we love it down here is fricking brilliant dude. Oh my God, you do something special. I'm not kidding. I am literally blown away right now. Like I'm not here to kiss your. I'm just like, these guys are smart. I don't know. Well, I'll tell you about offline. I think that is, but it's just like, holy crap. We're just crushing. I know you had, you're crushing it. I just know it because like the way, the way you built your site and the way you built, like your brand. Brilliant. Really. I've never seen it like that ever. I've never seen it because you're almost like a hybrid in a way like beside is no, for real. It's like, it's a school. That's awesome. I don't know. I, I nerd out on this because like, people don't understand. That's so hard.

Zach (43:50): It's so frigging hard. Well, the site and like the right way, you know, takes a lot of time. Like what percentage of our traffic comes from organic? I bet a time, uh, over 50%. Yeah. Way over like seven or something. And then you run ads to not really. Yeah, we got, we got some ads, right? As a hard point, I hear running ads, Google ads. Are you running like, uh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, definitely. So how about, when did you guys start the site? 2016 dude. Um, so yeah, we've run it for five years now and keep growing. And last year, when did you guys move down to Charlotte? 2018? Wait, sorry. 2019, 2018 and 2020 is a blur man. I know. I don't remember it. Right. But yeah, we've, since we came down, we've blown out, blew out of our first office pretty quick blew out of our next office again, pretty quick.

Zach (45:05): So we're in our third office and two and a half years. So I mean, this industry just in general is just booming and we're super excited about it. I think just more and more people are realizing you can golf at home and do it for a little bit more of a reasonable price than, than they once thought. So it's just, it's just a lot of fun and just excited to see kind of where things go the next couple of years, it's still a relatively new industry. Like, you know, five years ago, probably it was when it really started to pick up some steam. But I mean, we're, we're just kind of excited to be a part of this and hopefully, you know, keep it going. I'm a civilian pressed. So I don't say that that often, but I like what you guys are doing. I like what you guys have done.

Zach (45:55): I think it's super cool. I think it's really cool to, I didn't know that you guys are gonna make your own products based on feedback because that's kind of like what everybody kind of wants to do. Right? Like that's kind of like my Legion brand. It's like, you know what is good? And what's not so good or like, you want to make the best stuff and you're like, oh, that guy makes, or that, those two combined. Yeah. That's like next level. Yeah. And it sucks like some of the products for your song before from other companies like, uh, you know, we, you know, stood behind the products, but you know, when you hear customers say, oh, I wish you would have had this, this or this. Like, no, like you want to provide a solution for them. So that was, that's just like our mindset with it.

Zach (46:44): Just to really, again, just listen to our customers and give them what they want. And we're just going to keep doubling down on that double down, double down, double down, essentially like in the next couple of years you guys have your own line of stuff, right? Like, oh yeah. I mean, maybe it's technology maybe. Right. But maybe you don't really need like, do you really need to, probably not. If you don't have the peripherals, right. Like looking through the launch monitor technology on the market right now is solid and we've got some awesome partners. So our bread and butter so far has been, you know, the golf mats, hitting bays, where we rolled out a hitting net, uh, last year, cheaper one. So yeah, more just like everything else that you need minus the technology so far is what we've focused on. Right? Because like, you don't need to invent some new technology that costs tons and tons and tons of money and time.

Zach (47:39): It's like, yeah. Like, yeah, like, yeah, like I said, we've got some technology launch monitor partners that are doing a really great job. So you're not going to be able to compete with SiteScope or anybody. You know what I mean? Like that's literally their company. And so it's like, yeah, but if you are, but what you're doing is you're coming up with really cool stuff you need anyways. Right? Like making it a better, better experience with launch monitor that they buy. That's very impressive. Your site blew me away, man. So congratulations. Critical star ratiate it just feels like I, I I've never seen it like that. Not yet. Not in 48 episodes, you know, you just say, oh, I have a product. Oh, I made it. So we're selling it on our web store, you know? Or it's like, we're a big company, but not like you play the long game too.

Zach (48:31): Right? Like you, you create a content that like ranked over time. Yeah. And I that's something too, like people are listening and want to check out, follow us more, check out our YouTube channel. We're trying to get that going. William's our content manager. Shout out to him. He's put out some fun stuff. Like it's, we're putting out stuff. That's not just, you know, stuff to help you buy a golf simulator. Like we're going to put out some, like he did an at-home golf journals series, uh, nothing to do with our products. Just, you know, little fun, little tips and tricks that was after watching one of his videos is what helped me get rid of my faith and my whole, yeah. He was a former professional golfer. So he knows what he's talking about. He's putting out some fun stuff, Maddie, if you have more subscribers and I do know we're just getting started, but I'm just like, like you said, like it's the long game.

Zach (49:33): Like we want to just put out like fun stuff that people want to watch. And like, it's not, we don't really just care about how you buy it from us. Cool. But now also we just want to put out some good stuff and play the long game. Like you said, hopefully people can be entertained by of our videos too. So no, that's cool. Yeah. You do a thousand subs, man. It's awesome. It's good content. That's why, so you can tell if you want to subscribe for no reason. So yeah. Yeah. We're excited to push more of that. Like we want to get a video out a week, you know, coming out soon might just be a fun place for, you know, anyone that's interested just to check it out because I'm doing a ton. Yeah. Yeah. Check out your channel, obviously. Thanks. I appreciate it. Thanks dude. Whatever you name your website again. Shine or rain.

Zach (50:40): You guys are beautiful. You're like me. You're smart nerd. And that's what I put down. That's like, hell yeah man. I'm undercover. I'm an undercover boss. Nerd. Cool site. No cool site. I like what you're doing. You guys have to check out rain or shine balls. They're doing it right. They have a lot of, have a lot of good content. It's really cool. How you got some funny videos he's dressed up like a Wolf is that we just want to put out some fun stuff. You got 62,000 views on that video. You guys get dominant. You guys to dominate the videos on like yeah, you could dominate just, you could dominate YouTube on that, which you're already selling. You would crush.

Zach (51:30): I'm going to, I'm going to hijack Shiner, Shiner, golf.com. I feel like rain or shine. I'll take like, I'll get rid of the E to be like Rainer, shin golf. I've seen it, all the interesting stuff that a guy wants to literally steal one of my articles and my, and my logo. I'm copyrighted dude. I was like, oh, you're message. The wrong freaking dude. And so like everything. And like he pooped his pants. Like he, like, I took down his website ID index and on Google, I sent out a demand letter to miss the wrong bro. So it was funny. That's think to me off. They still content. So content that's, you know, happens all the time. Well, I'm really excited, you know, to start working with you guys some more, I think you guys have a phenomenal website, cool story. Like this is the go-to place.

Zach (52:39): And I don't really just plug other people like this is the go-to place. If you want to do a SIM go here. Like for reals, like, I mean, I might review a product for it or something, but like these guys know, like, and they will to all the pieces of the puzzle, which you will not find that anywhere else on the internet. Right. So you guys have [inaudible], I'll give you guys Zack cell number. If we won't close Zach and just like talk smack UDaB sucks. And I don't know it was teasing. Just kidding. But thanks should be on the show Mr. Vanderbilt or the second. That was fun. And uh, I will talk to you soon.

Speaker 1 (53:21): Thanks for listening to another episode of behind the golf podcast. You're going to beat me a go stay connected on and off the show by visiting golfers authority.com. Don't forget to like subscribe and leave a comment. Golf is always more fun when you're, when stay out of the beach and see you on the green.

Paul Liberatore

Paul Liberatore

Founder of Golfers Authority

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