Sam Froggatte is a golf gadget guru! He is the CEO of EyeLine Golf, a company that specializes in creating and selling training aids for anyone to improve their golf play. Their training products are used by weekend leisure golfers as well as hundreds of PGA players. Sam’s route to becoming a product innovator in the golf industry started in sales and marketing at IBM and then as an independent sales rep for golf equipment.
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers, Developers, and Innovators
Highlights from the discussion include:
- As a kid, Sam had the “karate kid” experience of golf where he became fascinated with the game. Later he had two sons who played competitively and he could not find training aids for them, so he developed them himself.
- Product ideas come from observing problems PGA players have, experiences of PGA instructors, and observing trends in golf. Each product is focused on solving a problem.
- Sam focuses on solving problems that PGA players have – they are the lead users and early adopters. If they find a product valuable, the weekend golf player will too.
- While Sam is creating golf products, they exist to help a golfer learn and improve a skill. Consequently, he devotes time to studying how people learn.
- 3 principles Sam uses to create successful products:
- Fundamentally sound – the product has to do the right things, built on sound principles and not faulty assumptions.
- Intuitive – products must be simple to use and require little to no training to use.
- Un-embarrassing – products that golfers will carry and tell their friends about.
- A real example of how Sam created a product…
- The problem was trying to improve putting alignment
- He created a rough prototype in his basement
- He field tested it by taking it to golf ranges and showing it to others and getting feedback
- He revised the prototype until it was a viable product, including being ready to manufacture
- Sam has never created a product that is “finished” – he focuses on getting products into users’ hands that are “good enough.” This is how you learn to make a product better – get it used by customers.
- Sam keeps his network of manufacturers motivated by showing them the completed products. For example, one manufacturer may make an extruded rail but not the final product. When they see the final product, it not only is motivating but also provides them context for providing solutions to improve the product further in future versions.
If I am emotionally connected to what I doing, I am more creative. So are my vendors. – wisdom from Sam.
- Most important advice for new product managers: know the trends in your industry. Stay in touch with current literature, participate in industry events, talk regularly with users. Also, know your price strategy. Ask:
- What problem are you solving?
- How much is it worth to people who have the problem?
- Can you manufacture a product that meets the price expectations?
- EyeLine Golf website.
“Be still, and know that I am God.” – Psalm 46:10a. Sam finds creativity when he is still.
“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” –Proverbs11:14. Sam seeks the wisdom of others for feedback on product concepts.
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