It’s a fairway to Silicon Valley

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John McGuire - Business Podcast

We began by asking John McGuire about his journey from Roscommon to Silicon Valley. John tells us, in this business podcast, that among his skillset is a certain knack of getting to the people he needs to speak with.

John started out on an accelerator program for young entrepreneurs in GMIT, Ireland. In hindsight the biggest difference between himself and the other participants was that while they were always in the office, he was always in the car.

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Your attitude dictates everything around you

John was developing a product, that while initially ill-defined, was certainly geared towards a sporting market. John plugged into the enormous networks of elite level sports people who have forged successful careers in business.

John adopted the consultative selling approach. He asked the following questions:

  • What do you do to help people improve in sport?
  • What tech do you use?
  • What’s good about the tech you use?
  • What’s not good about the tech you use?
  • If you had a magic wand, what would you do to improve the tech you use?

John finds that people like to give advice. Simply by asking, beginners can receive “gems of wisdom” from their interlocutor’s twenty years’ of experience. John recounts an early conversation with John McHenry, Director of the Ryder Cup at the K-Club in Ireland. McHenry told him that if he could automatically collect a golfer’s round of golf he would be onto something. This conversation meant that Active Mind Technology became the basis for the Game Golf product. Technologically enabled, golfers are a good demographic such products.

John recalls that “there were so many catalysts; a thousand pivots, but all little tiny pivots.” Each pivot was inspired by a new conversation that pointed the way.

For John, an easy way of being credible when engaging experts or successful people is to ask questions and just let them talk. It’s important to be personable too. Counterparts must be confident that they won’t hurt their network through your referral.

I have a pretty unique wife. I joined her on the second week of the honeymoon and that was cool.

John then explains the utility of visualisation and behavioural psychology. His vision and belief led him to mortgage his farm on an idea. This in turn led to match funding by Enterprise Ireland on the High Potential Start Up programme, more credibility, and later, onwards to Silicon Valley.

John settled on the belief that his vision constituted a consumer product and a physical device that captures data. He went through his network of former colleagues to help him take a prototype to fruition.

Participation on a Southwest of Ireland based accelerator programme called Endeavour led to mentorship from Colm Lyon (Realex Payments/Pay with Fire), Liam casey (PCH) and major Irish hotelier Frankie Whelehan.

John also touches on Game Golf’s successful crowdfunding campaign, carried out through Indigogo. We ask how did that go?  “We were the most successful golf thing that ever hit those things” came the reply.

John talks about how to project manage a crowd funding campaign and the apprehension felt when “consumers are about to tell you whether your child is ugly or not.”

We asked about the famous photo of Barack Obama using Game Golf. John recounts some humorous but staggering anecdotes including Game Golf’s appearance on the Times Square Jumbotron and a Twitter Live Q&A that generated 19 million impression in one hour.

John tells us where Game Golf is currently at before laying out all the key stats. Operating in four locations, GameGolf develops its hardware in Santa Clara, California, while the mobile team is in Galway, Ireland. The company has further sites in both Florida and San Francisco. Their product has been used in over 100 countries and on 18,000 golf courses. It has tracked over 30 million shots by geotagging more than 9 billion GPS data points.

The company is currently developing iOS and Android apps for GameGolf.com. This allows users to to tag a shot without the Game Golf device, which tallies with John’s belief that “you’ve got to figure out a way to put yourself out of business.”

Surrounded myself with people who are better than I am

Game Golf are currently raising the next round of finance. They’re also  planning some interesting things with the new smart watches that are now coming to market. John tells us that when people say that “far away hills are always greener. They are always greener.”

We asked if this could have been done from Ireland or was it necessary to move to the States. John is certain that he wouldn’t have raised the type capital he gathered in America. In the U.S. John was able to secure the services of John Rubenstein, a board member at Qualcomm who worked for Steve Jobs. John explains how the support and encouragement of his wife smoothed the process. We end the interview with John telling us of his satisfaction in knowing that his two daughters will grow up in the shadow of Stanford University, feeling that they can achieve anything.

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John McGuire
John McGuire is CEO and Founder of Active Mind Technology, creators of a real-life digital sports platform, founded in 2011. He is collaborating with fuseproject Founder and designer Yves Behar on the company’s first product, Game Golf. Game Golf is based on the Game platform, and is for athletes and sports enthusiasts who want to see, share, compete and compare their game with pros and peers. The Game platform allows users to play their way to greatness using wearable sensors and apps customized to the game. John has been an entrepreneur for the past 15 years and has a truly unique background. Having worked both as a software engineer and in the field of behavioral psychologies, Game and Game Golf combine John’s two loves, technology and sports. Prior to founding Active Mind Technology, John started Active Mind Consultancy, a practice where he gave athletes access to a range of simple mental tools and techniques to improve performance. John has also worked for Nortel for 10 years in the area of Big Data. John was a contributing author for the book Business Model Generation and co author for the Mensani System.