GRAFF GOLF ANNOUNCES CLOSING ITS SEED ROUND OF $700,000
Baltimore, Md. (March 23, 2021) – Graff Golf, developers of a smart golf ball that provides golfers detailed analytics of their swing and custom practice programs for improving their game, has announced that it closed its Seed Round of funding at $700,000.
The capital will be used for continued research and development, bringing the product to market as soon as possible.
“We have only just started to scratch the surface of how the Graff system is going to revolutionize sports training,” said Aaron Shapiro, Co-Founder and CEO of Graff Golf. “This funding enables us to further pursue our mission of empowering athletes with access to data and analytics to understand their games like never before.”
In addition to the ongoing research and development, Graff Golf is excited to expand its current team as it adds several key employees within its engineering, logistics and marketing departments.
This round of funding represents a tremendous growth opportunity as Graff Golf is committed to connecting with more talented, passionate golfers across the world as it closes in on launching the smart golf ball.
About Graff Golf:
Founded in 2018 by three Johns Hopkins University student-athletes, Graff Golf is developing a smart golf ball that offers golfers to view detailed analytics of their swing and improve using custom practice programs. After years of trying to improve at sports without a path to get better, the three co-founders — Aaron Shapiro, Patrick Kelly and Mike Eberle — made it their mission to enable athletes to have access to data and analytics that will help them fully understand their games like never before. Graff is working towards making athlete analytics more accessible, affordable and efficient.
Hope you’re all doing well and enjoying the end of the year! The team and I wanted to take this time to express how thankful we are for the incredible support and recap this untraditional yet productive year. Here are the major updates for each component of our system:
The Analytics Platform
We have updated the overall look of the mobile app, as seen below. The mobile app introduces an incredibly simple and intuitive way for members to see their unique data, have it analyzed, and receive feedback. There are four main sections to the app–play, analyze, improve, and challenges.
The web app is designed to give users an opportunity to analyze and visualize their raw data. Here, users can sort and filter their shot data from recent and historical sessions in a very intuitive way. This gives them an opportunity to draw further analysis using each and every data point collected.
The Smart Golf Ball
The Graff golf balls have been tested at a robotic testing facility. The results were very encouraging and gave us valuable insight to an improvement we’ve made on the core. The ball is expected to perform similarly to an average ball on the market.
The Graff analytics engine leverages key shot metrics tracked by the ball, historical user performance, and target metrics with each club to determine the weakest parts of a user’s game. This analysis generates an improvement program consisting of suggested drills to address the identified swing issues.
The shot metrics that we can accurately track as of today are spin rate, spin direction, carry distance, exit velocity, hang time, launch angle, and apex height.
GScore: A proprietary algorithm that takes the other seven metrics into account to determine an overall performance score.
Spin Rate: The rate at which the golf ball rotates measured in rotations per minute.
Spin Direction: The direction at which the golf ball is spinning.
Carry Distance: The distance in which the ball travels through the air.
Exit Velocity: The maximum speed at which the ball travels.
Hang Time: The time the ball is in the air.
Launch Angle: The angle at which the ball takes off relative to the horizon.
Apex Height: The maximum height (apex) of the golf ball's trajectory measured relative to the height where the golf ball was launched from.
The engineering and design of the packaging has been completed. There are two separate packaging options. The first option is the “Starter Pack”. This contains one sleeve and the wireless charger. The second option is smaller and is for repeat orders, it does not contain space for a charger. Images of the “Starter Pack” are pictured below.
This is what everyone (including us!) has been waiting for. While we have certainly experienced production delays and engineering snags, we are finally on our way to delivering the product that you all have been waiting for.
The first 2,000 sleeves are expected to be shipped in March of 2021.
Creating a new manufacturing process is not an easy task–it’s even more difficult to do during these times. We have a three step international production process that enables us to deliver a high-quality and very accurate smart golf ball.
The club is a content hub curated by Graff’s own Sean Fairholm. The Club features the following three elements:
The Podcast: Sean interviews various golf professionals, coaches, and industry experts to learn about how they use analytics to improve their game. Check out the podcast here!
Q&As: Sean asks questions to various industry experts about different golf related topics.
Weekly Column: Sean touches on big golf news and events each week.
We’ve started offering some simple merchandise for supporters of Graff to purchase if they’d like to represent the brand on and off the course. Hats, beanies, polos, hoodies—just a few options to start, but we plan on expanding the shop more in 2021. Click here to visit The Shop!
That about wraps it up! 2020 was a tough year for just about all of us—but we’ve been fortunate enough to make some incredible progress and look forward to sharing this technology with you in 2021!
But we’ll write something anyway. As I’m sure all of you can agree, 2020 has gotten off to a wild start.We started our Indiegogo campaign with a $20k goal in mind - hoping to achieve the bare minimum of funding that would allow us to launch our product. Our reach goal was $40K but that seemed unlikely.
Today, we closed the campaign with over $100K and our momentum continues to build. This is nothing short of amazing and beyond our wildest imaginations. We were certain that there was a market for this product and over 900 of you think so too. This market validation is an inspiration to us and is continuing to drive us to build the most innovative and technologically advanced tool to hit golf since metal clubs!
We can not thank you, our backers, enough. Seriously. We are working day and night to ensure that a Graff Golf membership is going to be the best step any golfer has taken towards improving their game at a manageable cost. Our app is being released to our Beta testers for user testing this next week. We will not stop until we have the most user-friendly and player-useful interface as possible. You can be assured that when you take delivery, you will receive an experience that has never been available before. And most importantly, at a price point that makes it an everyday tool.
We have some milestones to report. Our team has set certain benchmarks in order to deliver the experience you expect and that we set out to capture. The Graff platform must be able to measure a minimum of 9000 RPM ball rotation, the expected spin of a well-hit 9 iron. Our team achieved that this week with high accuracy. Our website and user interface have to be flawless, intuitive, and user-friendly. We believe we have achieved that as well and our beta release this week will allow us to start getting the necessary feedback to ensure this user experience. Also - we are going through a full redesign of our website. The team cannot wait to show you all the features we are packing into it, stay tuned!
We’re as excited as all of you to get this product out and our commitment to all of you is that we will be delivering what you expected to buy; the most technologically advanced, useful, and easy to use tool to improve your swing both on and off the course.
Lastly, we would like to ask each one of you to join the Graff Golf Facebook Discussion Group. We’d love for you all to introduce yourself, discuss with other backers, ask questions, request features, give feedback, and directly communicate with our team. All of us will actively be on the site and would love to speak with each of you. Your feedback is extremely important to us as we finalize the product and prepare it for shipment.
Thank you again! We cannot wait to see you on the links!
As promised, today we’re providing an updated timeline and schedule given the nationwide fight against COVID-19.
Before we get into it, we want to just extend our deepest condolences to all of you. This pandemic is affecting all of us in one way or another.
Due to precautions and safety-related delays, many of our suppliers have pushed back their timelines—and a few have shut down completely.
Our latest round of production balls has been pushed back one month. We are working hard to get our suppliers to expedite our orders, but as of now, the situation is greatly out of our control.
Additionally, our testing facility has shut down for the time being. This has pushed back our ability to test current prototypes and fine-tune the design. We are currently doing all that we can to get our facilities back to full-steam, however, we are currently constrained by the pandemic.
One positive outcome of the situation is that we’ll now have additional time to pack more features into our mobile app and front-end development. We are able to do all of this work remotely and this has become a big area of focus for us since we don’t need to rely on a supply chain to get it done.
Brass tacks: Due to everything discussed, we expect that all orders will be pushed back two months from the original expected delivery. We are fully expecting to get the product to all of you by August.
We realize this isn’t excellent news, but in the spirit of transparency, we wanted all of our backers to know exactly what was going on at Graff Golf as a result of the pandemic.
We will provide updates as we receive more definitive information from our suppliers.
Due to our revised timeline, we will also be extending our Indiegogo campaign an extra 30 days.
In addition to giving our company an opportunity to accumulate more orders, our backers will also have a chance to unlock more stretch goals—which will benefit everyone who has contributed to the campaign.
On behalf of the entire team at Graff, we apologize for the inconvenience and promise we are doing everything in our power to get you this revolutionary product as soon as possible.
I want to personally thank each and every one of you for all of the support during these extremely uncertain times. We hope that you and your family are staying safe over the next few weeks.
The past few months have been a wild ride to say the least. We cannot thank you enough for being the earliest supporters of our company as we continue with development. With that being said, these busy months have yielded significant progress for us. This report includes our latest updates, as well as a survey—if you have a moment, please participate! Team: We are extremely excited to announce the newest addition to our team: Head of Golf, Alex Fortey. Alex is a golf pro, coach, entrepreneur, and the founder of The Art of Simple Golf—a very popular YouTube channel. Alex has been focused on the Improve section of our app—creating algorithms that pinpoint potential improvement areas in your game based on the shots you've hit with our smart golf ball. These improvement areas will consist of specific videos (made by Alex) and practice drills to strengthen your game. In Alex’s short time with us, he has already contributed many ideas and connections that are keeping our company accelerating at a very fast pace. To learn more about Alex, you can visit his website: https://theartofsimplegolf.com.
Legal: On a less exciting note, you may have noticed that this email is from Graff Golf, as opposed to Upshot Golf. We recently underwent a company name change as advised by a trademark specialist. We had been notified that the Upshot Golf name was not fully available to us, and in a proactive effort decided to change our company name to Graff Golf. The word “Graff” has value to our company in two major ways. In one sense, we are aggregating data and "graphing" it to our users. In another sense, the Johns Hopkins University head football coach, Jim Margraff, unexpectedly passed away over New Years. In tribute and memorium, we've folded a piece of his name into our company name.
Hardware: Product development is going great. As many of you have seen, our full prototype gives a great preview of what our innovative technology can do. We are very excited to announce a huge technological advancement in our ability to accurately measure spin rate. This breakthrough gives us much more accurate readings, and thus the ability to more accurately instruct golfers on how to improve. We have spent the past few weeks developing a process to test our PCBs under all conditions that they will be put under. Our latest round of prototypes arrived early last week and are currently being tested. After almost one full year of development, it is safe to say that we made some incredible technological advancements that no other teams have been able to solve thus far.
Software: We have completed extensive research on successful mobile apps to ensure that the Graff app is as intuitive and user-friendly as possible. We are presenting users with a plethora of data and our goal is to make it as engaging and easy-to-use as possible. You can view our UI updates on our newly-refreshed website. In regards to development, Mike has begun programming the backend of our app.
Timeline: As I have mentioned, we have made significant technological advancements and are approaching a final product very quickly. With that being said, extensive testing is necessary to ensure that we get you the most advanced product as possible come launch day. We are still aiming for a launch by Christmas, and cannot wait to get this amazing technology in your hands!
Survey: Below is a link to a survey. As a thank you for joining and believing in us so early, we want to give each one of you a voice in this company and the ability to communicate what you deem as important and valuable. The survey contains three questions regarding features, analytics, and price points. https://survey.zohopublic.com/zs/NcCsDl
As always, feel free to reach out to me anytime. Thank you again to everyone and we are extremely excited to continue on this journey with you!