Interview With Tyler Gottstein
Describe your product or service:
“Cadi offers both an ecommerce platform and an innovative autonomous retail platform through use of a kiosk. Cadi is combining autonomous technology with ecommerce to deliver the ultimate omnichannel shopping experience.
Cadi’s technology leverages a golfer’s most desired location, golf courses, to create a network of kiosks. Our platform gives golfers the freedom to demo, compare, and purchase products at their convenience. Cadi uses big data and artificial intelligence to curate product selection and create a personalized experience for each customer.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“Cadi’s initial focus is on golf. Our overarching mission, however, is to use our autonomous retail technology to reinvent the sporting goods industry as a whole. We will achieve this by 1) delivering an unbeatable, personalized shopping experience and 2) leveraging the physical locations where sports are played.
Cadi leverages the golf course to allow customers to experience ‘Demo Day, Every Day.’ There’s currently very little or nonexistent retail sales on a golf course, and this is sadly the case for most other sports as well.”
How are you funded? I.e. type of funding, number of funding rounds, total funding amount.
“Cadi is turning to public investors to raise funding through regulation crowdfunding. After a highly successful first round of crowdfunding on StartEngine, and with a second round currently in progress, Cadi has currently raised close to $2 million of its $5 million overall goal.”
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them (I.e. co-founders, freelancers, etc.)
“Cadi has a co-founder Matt Ahrens, Director for $200 million+ oil distributor. Former VP of Sales national food retailer M.Ed., University of Washington.”
How did you come up with and validate your startup idea? Tell us the story!
“Tyler Gottstein, founder and CEO of Cadi, saw a major problem in purchasing golf clubs. The story begins with a purchase of new clubs at a local golf store. Gottstein did what other golfers typically do when purchasing in-store: he drove to a local store, spent time testing each club by hitting golf balls into an indoor net, and eventually making the purchase. The problem arose the first time he took the clubs out to a golf course, as he discovered the clubs were not the best fit for his game.
‘I thought, “Wow, this is such a broken process,”’ said Gottstein. ‘That was the concept that started Cadi.’
Gottstein continues: ‘I’m an entrepreneur in my soul and love the journey of discovery and learning,’ he adds. ‘I believe in this distribution model where I can access it on my phone 24-7 and go to an autonomous space, use sensor and scanner technology at the kiosk, check out products, test it, feel it, and keep it. But if you don’t like it, you put it back and get your money back. It cuts out the retail and the back and forth.’
What Gottstein and Cadi co-founder Matt Ahrens saw was an opportunity to introduce technology to help solve this problem. Cadi was formed to find a way to bring a retail experience back to golf courses via an omnichannel platform – an innovative combination of autonomous kiosk technology and e-commerce.”
How did you come up with your startup's name? Did you have other names you considered?
“Naming the company 'Cadi' in part symbolizes how a true golf caddie is an expert for the golfer. As pro golfers trust their caddie to suggest the right club for each shot they take, Cadi is an expert by using data to best select each club for the user and allowing the user to demo before they purchase.”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“Tyler knew from a young age he wanted to start businesses and be an entrepreneur. After growing up in Southern California, Tyler played college basketball and went on to earn his MBA and M.Ed. from the University of Washington. His early business ventures were in real estate and consumer electronics.
As founder and CEO, Tyler is responsible for the vision behind Cadi. His leadership and decision making is put to use every day with the development projects he works on.
Whether spearheading hardware projects with Cadi’s engineering team, brainstorming software design with developers, or communicating with strategic partners and investors, Tyler’s love for building businesses and solving challenging problems came long before Cadi’s inception.”
Who is your target market? How did you establish the right market for your startup?
“It’s highly recommended you are fitted for clubs in order to perform at your best game, as brands frequently update their clubs with new technology and manufacturing techniques that influence design and gameplay.
But 95% of golfers don’t spend the time nor the dollar amount to be properly fit for clubs, thus not performing at their best game.
Buying off the shelf poses problems for golfers and the future of golf retail as a whole. The pandemic is forcing big-box retailers to shut down their stores, leaving few options for golfers to find the correct product for success. There’s always buying off the internet, but even then arises the issue of shipping, returns, and not being able to try your purchased product. Golf pros shops aren’t able to compete with big-box retailers or the internet, with their smaller inventory levels and a dying niche market.
Cadi's target market includes all golfers, including those just starting out to seasoned players.”
What's your marketing strategy?
“When we started Cadi, we took the first principles approach. We analyzed the retail market, dove into current innovations, and broke down many contemporary challenges. We learned that there are lasting problems in logistics, payments, product curation, and overall purchase experiences. As technology development never stops, the future of retail will be technologies present in Cadi. Our marketing efforts are shaped around telling this story to the market.
This year, much of the marketing efforts have been dedicated to developing bigger and bolder content to tell the Cadi story. This starts with brand building, and a famous PGA pro golfer is helping tell the Cadi story. Cadi is excited to announce the endorsement of pro golfer Paul Casey! Paul is a four-time Ryder Cup participant and ranks in the top 30 on the all-time career earnings list.
Cadi had a great presence at TPC Scottsdale for the Waste Management open in February 2022. In addition, stay tuned for short-form video content for social media, TV commercials, and digital advertisements. The goal is to tell the Cadi story clearly, build hype, and create additional excitement for the launch. This is exciting and a key component to building our community.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“StartEngine has been instrumental in helping acquire investors in both the first and second round. Here is a great testimonial from one of our investors.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“With the launch of the ecommerce platform in summer/fall of 2022, we will have more to release on KPIs.”
What's your favorite startup book and podcast?
“Tyler is constantly reading and interested in learning more about startups and stories of entrepreneurship. He especially enjoys the podcast ‘How I Built This,’ ‘This Week in Startups,’ and of course, the great content from ‘Startup Savants’!”
Is there a tool, app, or resource that you swear by to help run your startup?
“Tyler and the entire Cadi team are very thankful for all of the help and resources of StartEngine. We continue to support StartEngine's efforts to support startups and early-growth companies, and their efforts to continuously connect investors at all levels to support entrepreneurs.”
What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
“Every step in entrepreneurship is fun, challenging, and always surprising. The startup process for Cadi has been no different. As a startup, we are incredibly grateful for the support of our team, including John Brown, Franz Keuhnrich, Carole McCluskey, and David Felker.”
How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?
“Balance is hard, and there are no easy answers on this. Fortunately, the team loves golf, and [we’re] thrilled that this business allows us the opportunity to try so many new golf clubs!”
What is a strategy you use to stay productive and focused?
“In a business, distractions and disruptions occur. Cadi makes every effort to stay focused on our people, processes, and our ultimate product — an autonomous retail platform through our ecommerce and kiosk system.”
Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?
“Through the entire startup experience, one of the things we continuously strive to accomplish is having a constant line of communication to our investors. This includes consistent email updates, blog articles, spotlighting other investors, and this year, having events for our investors. We want to have our investors engaged and involved in what we are trying to accomplish.”
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