JAMES OS­BORN

PUTTING PU­RITY BACK IN THE GOLF SWING

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There is an en­tre­pre­neur­ial pedi­gree in the of­fices of PureForm Golf. Its four di­rec­tors have vastly dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ences, but each is brought to­gether by their will to achieve suc­cess at the high­est lev­els.

First there is Rugby League leg­end Steve Men­zies, who was known as one of the NRL’s most fear­some de­fend­ers.

Then there is Paul Jen­ner, a tal­ented ju­nior golfer in Aus­tralia with over 30 ju­nior and am­a­teur tour­na­ment wins be­tween 1991- 1997 and a qual­i­fied PGA pro­fes­sional. Per­son­ally ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the dif­fer­ence that cus­tom built clubs bring to the game, Paul was drawn to the world of equip­ment test­ing and cus­tom club build­ing, and is one of the only qual­i­fied PGA Pro­fes­sion­als in Aus­tralia of­fer­ing tour qual­ity fit­tings and club build­ing to golfers at all lev­els.

Cris Chen is the owner of the suc­cess­ful chain of Phoenix Restau­rants in Syd­ney.

And then there is James Os­born, who comes from a long line of suc­cess­ful busi­ness­men – his grand­fa­ther was one of Aus­tralia’s most suc­cess­ful busi­ness­man and rubbed shoul­ders with the late Kerry Packer and a num­ber of former Prime Min­is­ters.

The four have vastly dif­fer­ent back­grounds, but they were brought to­gether via a love for golf, a shared en­tre­pre­neur­ial pas­sion and a vi­sion to fill a gap in the global mar­ket, where there was a need for high-qual­ity club fit­ting and build­ing.

PureForm was con­cep­tu­alised af­ter Os­born, spurred by a love for golf but frus­trated by rushed fit­tings and in­cor­rect specs for his clubs, sought the ex­per­tise of PGA Pro and club fit­ter to the pro­fes­sion­als, Paul Jen­ner. From here the idea for a new busi­ness was born.

What does PureForm do?

PureForm tailors golf clubs to suit each player’s game. Us­ing the “TRACK­MAN” sys­tem, com­pris­ing NASA de­vel­oped ad­vanced dop­pler radar imag­ing and track­ing sys­tem, Pureform con­verts over two dozen read­ings on a player’s swing and re­sult­ing ball flight data us­ing its pro­pri­etary ‘PureFit’ sys­tem and the ex­per­tise of its fit­ters to gen­er­ate op­ti­mal heads and shaft com­bi­na­tions for each player. The rec­om­men­da­tions al­low the player and fit­ter to test a hand­ful of fil­tered op­tions from po­ten­tially hun­dreds of op­tions for each club, with dra­matic im­prove­ments im­me­di­ately vis­i­ble for low and high hand­i­cap­pers alike.

The idea was a win­ner, as you’d ex­pect from four peo­ple who are driven to suc­ceed.

Look­ing back at Os­born’s his­tory, it is no sur­prise that PureForm has come to the po­si­tion it is in to­day.

In part this suc­cess stems from lessons learnt from his grand­fa­ther.

“He (Os­born’s grand­fa­ther) was one of Aus­tralia’s most suc­cess­ful busi­ness­man,” Os­born says.

“He was on the board of Crown, West­pac, Qan­tas and was Chair­man at Roth­mans In­ter­na­tional, Wormald and BP. I guess grow­ing up, he was the dom­i­nant in­flu­ence in my life and his suc­cess in­spired me to get into busi­ness.”

Of course dif­fer­ent eras par­lay into dif­fer­ent at­ti­tudes and James Os­born had his own ideas about the way he would con­duct his busi­ness life.

It was more en­tre­pre­neur­ial than his grand­fa­ther, but has been no less ef­fec­tive.

Os­born’s busi­ness-build­ing ca­reer ef­fec­tively be­gan in 2005 with mintshop.com.au, an on­line cloth­ing store sell­ing well known Aus­tralian Fash­ion La­bels in­clud­ing Ksubi, Sass & Bide & Nudie Jeans. He later sold this busi­ness in 2010. It was here that he learnt about sys­temi­sa­tion.

“It re­ally showed me the im­por­tance of hav­ing pro­ce­dures and lever­ag­ing tech­nol­ogy to sys­temise a busi­ness. Plus I gained great skills in e-com­merce and dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing plat­forms, al­beit only a few where around back in 2005.”

Os­born is mat­ter of fact about busi­ness.

He says Mint was “sim­ply an op­por­tu­nity in fash­ion that pre­sented it­self.”

When he re­ceived an of­fer to sell, he did so be­cause as he says, ev­ery busi­ness should have an exit strat­egy.

“Whether you are in busi­ness for one year or 40 years, you have to have an exit strat­egy.”

Lit­tle Ras­cals was next, an on­line start up de­liv­er­ing ‘’best for baby, best for you’’ baby prod­ucts to the doors of busy, time poor Mums and Dads and then Oz Ser­vices Group, an on­line handy­man and home ser­vices com­pany.

Os­born built this into a three-states op­er­a­tion with over 50 em­ploy­ees and con­trac­tors. Again, this was another busi­ness that ex­ploded with dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing.

“We in­creased turnover 5 fold in one fi­nan­cial year by think­ing out­side the square and con­cep­tu­al­iz­ing a strat­egy that we ex­e­cuted through dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing plat­forms to drive leads.”

By the time he re­ceived an of­fer for Oz Ser­vices, Os­born was a young fam­ily man with a mort­gage and all the as­so­ci­ated pres­sures that brings.

He wanted a new chal­lenge: one that was grounded.

“The dig­i­tal space was too hit and miss, I wanted some bricks

and mor­tar busi­ness that pro­vided more sta­ble cash flow,” Os­born says.

Os­born then went and started two busi­nesses within as many months. Cov Hair Bar in Syd­ney’s up­mar­ket sub­urb of Mos­man and Kingswood Cof­fee in Syd­ney’s CBD.

Dur­ing that time, Os­born, a keen golfer, had ap­proached Paul Jen­ner to fit his clubs. Jen­ner sim­ply changed the shafts in Os­born’s clubs and built them us­ing a process called ‘Flat Line Os­cil­la­tion’ (FLO) to ro­tate each in­di­vid­ual shaft into the most sta­ble po­si­tion, thus dra­mat­i­cally in­creas­ing dis­tance and de­creas­ing dis­per­sion. The ef­fect was im­me­di­ate, with Os­born drop­ping 7 strokes off his hand­i­cap.

“I called him and said you have a phe­nom­e­nal prod­uct and asked him if he wanted to take his busi­ness to the next level?

“Months later I re­ceived a phone call from Jen­ner and the next thing we were on a plane to America.”

Prior to their US de­par­ture, Os­born put to­gether a con­cept pro­posal and along with Jen­ner, pitched the idea to a num­ber of reps from the ma­jor brands.

Os­born says, “The com­mon re­sponse was ‘build your fa­cil­ity and we will de­cide then if we are to sup­ply you’.”

As it was not an op­tion for the di­rec­tors to in­vest $500k on a state of the art fa­cil­ity with­out lo­cal sup­ply, they were forced to en­ter a sup­ply agree­ment with a US coun­ter­part.

How­ever, that pre­sented its own prob­lems.

“We grew too quickly. Af­ter a few golf blogs pub­lished our en­try into the mar­ket, we were booked out six weeks in ad­vance be­fore our doors even opened. Then the sup­ply com­pany couldn’t keep up with our or­ders and hence our lead times of cus­tomers re­ceiv­ing their golf clubs blew out and so we had to pivot and form re­la­tion­ships lo­cally so we could keep con­trol of the man­u­fac­tur­ing.”

The busi­ness shifted its sup­ply lo­cal along with its man­u­fac­tur­ing to its HQ in Syd­ney and the boys haven’t looked back.

“PureForm is a beast all of its own and I have never been more ex­cited about a busi­ness,” Os­born says.

Os­born be­lieves that through PureForm’s level of ser­vice and tech­nol­ogy it has changed the re­tail of­fer­ing in the golf in­dus­try and he be­lieves there are end­less op­por­tu­ni­ties ahead.

As the busi­ness has grown he has in­te­grated all the skills he has learned in busi­ness. He has called on his pro­fes­sional net­work and they have be­come key peo­ple within the busi­ness. These key peo­ple, from var­i­ous fields, are an in­te­gral part of the man­age­ment team and are huge fac­tors in their rapid growth and ex­e­cu­tion to date.

As if to test the the­ory of the tech­nol­ogy be­hind the fit­ting, Os­born him­self has taken his hand­i­cap from 13 to 6. He says that is all due to the equip­ment.

“What peo­ple don’t un­der­stand is that not only can we get ev­ery cus­tomer hit­ting it longer and straighter, we can also fix com­mon swing faults, like a slice, just through equip­ment. By sim­ply chang­ing the weight of a club we can change the swing path and hence ball flight of the cho­sen golfer, it is re­mark­able to see this hap­pen. Our of­fer­ing is sim­ply ex­cep­tional. The gains we give clients can’t be ques­tioned. There is no golf re­tailer in the world you can walk into and get the re­sults we give. We sell the best head and shaft com­bi­na­tion at PureForm util­is­ing heads from the ma­jor brands and Tour Qual­ity af­ter­mar­ket shafts fa­cil­i­tat­ing hun­dreds of fit­ting op­tions. This com­bined with our pro­duc­tion turn­around times. Cus­tomers can get fit for a cus­tom driver in the morn­ing and be on the golf course with it by the af­ter­noon. I think this is a ma­jor fac­tor in our rapid growth.”

So how does a fit­ting at PureForm ac­tu­ally work?

Cus­tomers book an ap­point­ment from 30mins to 4 hours (de­pend­ing on what club/s the golfer is look­ing to im­prove). The cus­tomer will hit balls on Track­man with their cur­rent golf clubs, tak­ing the best 6 shots to help set a base­line for im­prove­ment. Once the cus­tomer’s base­line is set the in­for­ma­tion gath­ered from Track­man and the PureFit sys­tem will lead the fit­ters to 4-5 spe­cific af­ter­mar­ket shaft op­tions and 4-5 ma­jor branded heads. The PGA Mem­ber car­ry­ing out the fit­ting will then rec­om­mend the best head and shaft com­bi­na­tions from this data to ba­si­cally blow your old clubs out of the wa­ter! From that anal­y­sis, they then have their clubs ei­ther re-shafted (golfer keeps ex­ist­ing heads in his clubs and has new shafts in­stalled) or have a brand new set built from scratch to suit their style of play.

The rea­sons that PureForm Golf de­liv­ers a more re­fined prod­uct than stock of­fer­ings is be­cause we have the data from over 10,000 fits, the best head and shaft com­bi­na­tions util­is­ing heads from the ma­jor brands and Tour Qual­ity af­ter­mar­ket and our hand built, de­tailed as­sem­bly process.

“Buy­ing off the rack is like get­ting dressed in the dark from a pile of clothes on the floor that are all dif­fer­ent sizes.”

High Hand­i­cap­pers, Low High Hand­i­cap­pers

At PureForm Golf a golfer of any skill level, age or gen­der is made to feel com­fort­able, with the same at­ten­tion to de­tail as if they were a PGA tour player. The club fit­ters share the same great love of golf

and want to en­sure the best re­sults and en­joy­ment from each fit­ting, no mat­ter if you are a PGATour Player or a Week­end War­rior play­ing off 25!

“Most peo­ple have a favourite club in the bag…the rea­son they hit that one club bet­ter than all the rest is the shaft hap­pens to be aligned prop­erly and the flex of the shaft comes clos­est to suit­ing their tim­ing and tempo. When you buy a set of clubs from PureForm Golf, ev­ery club in the bag will be your favourite club!”

“We are here to sup­port golfers en­joy the game of golf,” Os­born says.

The busi­ness was built with agility. Be­cause it started small, it has al­lowed PureForm to quickly pivot and iden­tify pro­ce­dures in their busi­ness that need to be made less reliant on train­ing, de­vel­op­ment and labour. This busi­ness is built around giv­ing its cus­tomers quan­tifi­able re­sults through tech­nol­ogy. There is no guess­ing in what they do, it is all sci­ence.

As Os­born says “If you hit the ball 30m fur­ther and 25% straighter in your fit­ting, this will 100% trans­late to the course. It is un­de­ni­able. The dop­pler radar tech­nol­ogy we use was cre­ated by NASA. The num­bers sim­ply don’t lie.”

“If we can’t im­prove your game, take up lawn bowls!”

It is no sur­prise PureForm has even at­tracted PGA tour play­ers in­clud­ing Peter Lonard and Robert Al­lenby, who have sung PureForm’s praises.

“We don’t pay golf pro­fes­sion­als. PureForm is a brand. They come to us be­cause we are the best at what we do. We look at so much data around ball flight in­clud­ing land­ing an­gles, peak heights, spin rates and dis­tance. We gain quan­tifi­able re­sults for all our cus­tomers. Ev­ery sin­gle golfer walks out hit­ting it longer and straighter, ev­ery time. It doesn’t mat­ter if you are just tak­ing up the game or a PGA Pro, we get un­de­ni­able re­sults”

Os­born says there is no other busi­ness in the world that de­liv­ers the re­sults they do. PureForm has 30,000 hit­ting com­bi­na­tions.

“Our pro­pri­etary fit­ting sys­tem is un­sur­passed. Ev­ery time a cus­tomer hits a ball in any of our fa­cil­i­ties, we keep 28 pa­ram­e­ters of data about that swing. So you can imag­ine we have mil­lions of pieces of data to an­a­lyse to help our fit­ting sys­tem evolve. From this data we have dis­proved a lot of old club fit­ting the­ory. We data mine to de­velop learn­ings that no one else can know (with­out this mass of data) and then track that to a cer­tain shaft and head char­ac­ter­is­tic. Hence the re­sults we give to cus­tomers are un­like any­one has seen in this in­dus­try. No com­pany or per­son can change some­one’s game in such short space of time like we can, it’s re­ally in­cred­i­ble to see this day in day out”

De­spite there be­ing 30,000 com­bi­na­tions, there is gen­er­ally only one or two com­bi­na­tions that ac­tu­ally work for each cus­tomer.

Os­born says “When you un- der­stand this you, A, un­der­stand how we get our clients such huge gains and, B, how it is a sta­tis­ti­cal im­pos­si­bil­ity to walk into any other re­tailer and buy golf clubs that ac­tu­ally suit your unique swing. Its real nee­dle in a haystack stuff.”

How­ever as the data keeps grow­ing, so do PureForm’s learn­ings and rec­om­men­da­tions.

And in re­gards to the equip­ment PureForm sells, “we only deal with the big brands that sup­ply the best prod­uct. We can fit to ev­ery ma­jor brand in the mar­ket. Com­pa­nies like Call­away, Tay­lorMade, Nike, Co­bra and Mizuno are our lifeblood and we use their prod­uct within our fit­ting sys­tem to achieve out­stand­ing re­sults.”

“We are lead­ing the way. No one can com­pete with our tech.”

PureForm has cre­ated a whole new mar­ket in golf.

“Ev­ery day we give golfers bet­ter gains; they hit their driver 30 me­tres fur­ther and straighter and their irons 20m fur­ther and straighter. All of a sud­den they are play­ing an ap­proach 50 me­tres closer to the hole. That is how we mea­sure our­selves. Peo­ple hit it longer and straighter and they en­joy their game more.”

With an en­tre­pre­neur­ial glint in their eye and that at­ti­tude that has driven their ca­reers to con­sis­tent suc­cesses no mat­ter what they have turned their at­ten­tion, the PureForm di­rec­tors are now turn­ing their at­ten­tion to be­com­ing a global leader in golf equip­ment. Cur­rently they have Syd­ney and Mel­bourne lo­ca­tions, with the ex­pan­sion into the Hong Kong op­er­a­tion also just months away. There is also their mo­bile fit­ting van, which can ser­vice Golf Cour­ses and Driv­ing Ranges.

Os­born is in the fi­nal stages of de­vel­op­ing fran­chise doc­u­ments and is seek­ing part­ners do­mes­ti­cally along with ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est from po­ten­tial part­ners around the world.

Af­ter just two and a half years, PureForm has achieved its goals be­cause the boys’ at­ti­tude of you ‘have to start the way you want to fin­ish’ has never wa­vered.

It is that at­ti­tude that de­ter­mines what the lim­its are, but for the guys at PureForm it is clear that they re­ally do live by the mantra of ‘No Lim­its’.

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