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Michael Jordan Invests in ‘Uber for Golfers’

Michael Jordan on a golf course in 2007.
Michael Jordan on a golf course in 2007. Barbara Moore/Flickr

Novi, Michigan’s V1 Sports is no stranger to athletic kings. In a 2013 Wall Street Journal article, Tiger Woods credited V1’s swing-recording and analysis system with helping “so many young golfers these days get so good, so fast.”

“It was a very humanizing effect,” V1 Sports CEO Bryan Finnerty told the Detroit Free Press. “I’m sure this happens all the time where almost everybody he meets for the first time is struggling for what words to say.”

With that kind of panache, getting NBA legend (and arguable GOAT) Michael Jordan to invest in the sports improvement software should’ve been easy, right? Not according to Finnerty. The former Detroit Rockers goalie was prepared with a quick presentation designed to “try not to put him to sleep.”

Instead, the scheduled 30-minute early April meeting over chicken sausage and eggs turned into a two-and-a-half hour parlay that would lead to August’s announcement that Jordan will invest in V1 Sports with an equity position through Black Cat Ventures, a Jordan-founded golf technology fund.

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What made the golf fanatic Jordan invest in V1 Sports? Finnerty described it as a form of Uber for golfers connecting players with teaching professionals through an app. With software integrated into over 3,500 golf club training programs, the tech gives inexpensive educational access that evades the pressure of personal lessons, Finnerty told Forbes.  

“MJ said the reason why he loves us is because you can have elite instruction available for non-elite athletes anywhere on the planet,” Finnerty said in the article. “The number one reason people don’t take lessons is because they are intimidated — not because it’s too expensive or too hard to find or too far away, or takes too much time.”

Finnerty first joined the video analysis company as an advisor and ambassador in the 1990s. At the time, the company was just beginning to explore applying video and telestration tech to sports. In the past three years, V1 has striven to give do-it-yourself golfers who are not seeing a pro the tools to seamlessly integrate some improvement guidance. Whether that’s viewing specific instructional content or utilizing V1’s shot tracking platform, users can choose their own instructional adventure via tips sent directly from pros. 

Finnerty sees great opportunity in courting these golfers who desire to shave strokes off their scorecard and level up their skills. The now 25-year-old software outfit delivers upwards of 50,000 lessons per month, a testament to a thriving instructional space. Finnerty believes that a fertile market can sustain V1’s pandemic demand spike, a ‘well-over’ 20% bump in revenue from 2020.

“Only 15% of the market takes a lesson,” Finnerty said to the Freep. “With 30 million golfers in the U.S. that’s only four-and-a-half million. That’s a pretty small market. So we’ve got to be talking about those 25 million other golfers, and how do we serve them?”

With Jordan on board along with over 15,000 pros providing tips, it’s not too hard to imagine V1 ascending to the pinnacle of training tech. 

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