Upward Citizen Spotlight: SwingU
Amateur golfer and industry legend Bobby Jones famously likened the game of golf to the game of life: “You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots - but you have to play the ball where it lies.”
As of October 2018, global golf technology and media company SwingU (Swing By Swing Golf, Inc.) has not simply played the ball where it lies: the ball has strategically landed for success.
Once a team of 5 employees, SwingU has experienced 50% year-over-year growth since a strategic restructuring at the end of 2016, under the direction of CEO Charles Cox, former Director of International Finance & Business Development for ESPN and executive of Hartford’s Back9Network. Today, SwingU’s Connecticut team has grown to a mighty 15, including software engineers, marketing, sales, and product professionals. Like many of today’s tech startups, SwingU is a collective of digitally nomadic employees who enjoy the flexibility of working wherever the WiFi is strong and the power outlets are within cord’s reach. While their individual home bases span across the state, SwingU’s official company hub lives within Connecticut’s capital: they are Citizens of Upward Hartford.
From on- and off-course instruction, to carefully curated content distributed via the #1 golf newsletter in the world, course GPS & scorecards, and everything in between, SwingU is swiftly becoming the premier outlet for golfers of all-levels. “SwingU’s mission is to be the #1 golf technology and media company in the world,” says Cox. “We want to be known for making the most reliable & most entertaining game-improvement smartphone apps and content for golfers, golf instructors, clubs and academies.”
On any given Monday (or occasional Tuesday), the gaggle of golf specialists can be spotted along the perimeter of Upward’s signature brand wall. Their work day includes the perfect mix of privacy and open collaboration, with a morning team meeting in Upward’s Success conference room, and an afternoon of collaborative work and play in the main coworking space. While about half of the CT-based “Swingers,” (as they’re affectionately called by Upward’s internal team) commute over an hour into Hartford to start their work week, the group agrees that having a centralized workspace enhances team productivity and fosters a genuine company culture that they otherwise wouldn’t have as remote employees. “We come in early in the week, which helps us set a weekly playbook together,” says Project Manager Adam West. “You walk in here, and you feel like you’re really building something because of the Silicon Valley-like, energetic environment.
...And, there’s a free beer fridge.” Can’t argue with that.
As innovators within an industry that has been famously slow-to-change, SwingU is masterfully weaving tradition into the digital realm. One of the many functions of their SwingU Clubhouse daily e-newsletter, which reaches over 1 million golfers worldwide, explores the products & techniques that allow instructors, academies, and companies to effectively build relationships with their customers without a physical presence at golf clubs. SwingU has also elevated traditional golf instruction via the SwingU Academies app platform, which provides personalized, branded apps for private clubs, academies and golf coaches, allowing them to engage their students/members and drive in-person lessons and/or online training and 1-on-1 concierge service.
So where will SwingU be in the next 3 years? VP of Product Development & Finance Rick Wimble believes that the virtual community SwingU is creating for golfers will further enrich relationships between students, instructors, players, clubs, and companies. “We will continue to be a leader in the golf app space, especially as we further expand into the game improvement arena,” says Wimble. “Our reach as the leading golf newsletter in the world, combined with features of our ever-evolving app, creates compelling content that golfers across the board want to engage with.”
Wimble also projects that by 2022, SwingU will be triple its size both fiscally and in headcount. “After looking at District (New Haven) and Spaces (West Hartford), we thought Upward Hartford was really the most central, accessible workspace for our team, and also offered us room to grow. Upward will have no problem housing us as we grow in the next year or two.”
The team is excited to collaborate with other innovators in the Upward Hartford community. If you’ve yet to shoot a game of pool or have a beer with these guys (& gal!), we highly recommend you swing by the Upward Citizens wall and say hello.