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The Up Swing

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Written by Lauren Hunsberger

Ten years ago, Ken Kamada and Brett Campbell met over a round of golf at Willows Run in Redmond. A mutual friend had invited the two to play, and there was an immediate connection. Call it serendipity.

“I thought, ‘I really like this guy,’” Kamada says. However, each was far down his own professional path. At the time, Kamada was managing his investment firm, Kamada Investment Management, and parallel leading venture-backed software start-ups in Silicon Valley. Campbell was focused on Nintex, the automation software company he founded in Australia and brought to the United States.

Fast-forward to 2018. Campbell sold Nintex and started spending more time working on his golf game. “I was focused on it for a few years and got my handicap down from 30 to 10,” he says. In the process, he met Randy Henry, a prominent golf instructor who founded Henry Griffitts, the first golf club fitting company. The friendship ignited a conversation about the future of the sport and the intersection between golf and technology.

In a short time, Campbell founded Overload Golf Ventures, an arm of Harvey Partners, a home office based in Kirkland. Overload invests in golf-based software start-ups,  and most recently acquired aboutGolf and Henry Griffitts.

Currently, aboutGolf is the official provider of simulators for the PGA Tour and the Golf Channel, with over 3,000 simulator and software platforms used everywhere from Korea to London. But Campbell believes there is still a lot of room for growth and innovation.

Recalling their connection on the course, Kamada was one of the first people he looked to as a partner. Kamada agreed and moved back to his hometown of Seattle, and they began their mission to give more people access to the sport they love.

“Golf isn’t a cheap sport. Plus, it requires time, four or five hours. Some people don’t have one or both of those resources. Other people might live in a place in the world without golf courses,” Kamada says. “Tech can be a great equalizer in having access. With mobile apps and the simulator platform, for a few dollars a month, a lot more people could have an entry point into the game.”

With a focus on software development (as opposed to hardware) and an increased use of artificial intelligence and machine learning, the two see potential everywhere. Yes, there will be a big focus on performance training. But it’s the modernized experience of connecting golfers globally through a platform that excites them most. After all, that’s what brought them together in the first place.

“Imagine you’re watching the Masters on TV and you say, ‘I’d like to see how I do on that exact course against those players.’ We want to be able to download the course right then and play with them, or compete against a friend on the course,” Campbell says.

“I don’t get to see my father a lot; he lives in Japan,” Kamada says. “So, I love the idea of being able to play a round of golf against him using our technology.”

They are also working toward including interactive bar games—darts, shooting games, cornhole—and possibly other sports like baseball and car racing. Admittedly, the ideas are endless, but their focus is simply to excite people about coming together over sport, whether that’s in a pro shop, bar or a private home setting.

“In high school, golf was something to spend time with my dad, and it was so unique because it’s an opportunity to lock someone down for four or five hours and spend quality time with them,” Kamada says. “It meant a lot to me.” And that’s the feeling the two want to spread to golfers of all ages.

For more information on investing in Overload Golf Ventures or a demo of a golf simulator, please email ken.kamada@harvey-partners.com.

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