Under The Hood: Peter from Robin

Under The Hood: Peter from Robin

How to sell golf clubs on the internet & break out from the old guard

Welcome Peter! What’s the story behind Robin

My brother, my sister-in-law, and myself launched Robin the week of the shutdown in 2020. 

My brother Andrew is a D1 collegiate golfer vs. I'm not a particularly avid or skilled golfer. And the idea for Robin came when my sister-in law (Ali) and I went looking for a set of golf clubs in a local retailer in LA. 

Ali and I both had poor experiences. She was taken to the back of the store to look at purple and pink golf clubs. Meanwhile I was being sold on a $3.5k set while being asked a million confusing questions like “what kind of bounce do you want on the wedge?” 

That’s when we started doing research into the golf industry & learning about the fastest growing segments in the sport: Women, millennials, people of color & juniors. These are groups that have been completely left out of the golf narrative. 

We ideated on Robin, zero-ing in on an opportunity to create a company that prioritized simplicity, accessibility, inclusion for new and casual players. And here we are today. 

What’s the growth been like since launch? 

In the first 2 months of launching, we sold 1 or 2 sets of golf clubs - that’s it. The pandemic hit, and we felt we were totally screwed. But then - in May 2020, the golf courses opened up and the sport became very popular almost overnight. 

Since then, we’ve been growing quickly - and in 2022, we started diversifying beyond DTC and into other channels like Amazon and retail via select golf retailers. We’re now a team of 7. 

Let’s chat about fundraising. I imagine creating golf clubs requires a lot of capital. Did you raise? 

Robin definitely does require a lot of capital - especially because we sell sets of clubs, vs. individual clubs. 

So we raised a friends & family round of $500,000 prior to launch, and another one of the same amount right past our launch date. And then just recently in April of 2022, we closed our first formal seed round of $1.8m led by Pentland Ventures

Amazing fund - congrats! How do you distribute that capital?

Much of it goes into R&D. We’ve been releasing new sets (lefty / righty variants + new sizes for kids) and we've added some apparel. So the funds really help drive those developments forward as well as help us diversify our marketing channels. 

Let’s chat acquisition: Any big wins? 

I was on the ads team at Facebook & Instagram for many years - so that’s where we had our deepest base of knowledge. So when we started, the large majority of our budgets went to traditional channels like Facebook, Instagram and Search. 

But I’ll be honest - acquisition via those channels has been rough. In 2022, those channels are less efficient & we're trying new things on a smaller scale to see what sticks, with no real “aha! moment” on any new channel yet. 

It’s also part of the reason why we’ve placed a greater emphasis on retail & Amazon where we have more hopes of stability. 

Could Robin ever sponsor a well-known golfer? À la Tiger Woods early on with Nike?

We talk extensively about sponsorships, particularly with non-professional golfing athletes. The difficulty is that as a small brand, it's hard to sometimes find a compensation structure that aligns with everybody's interest. 

Working with an A-list celebrity is kind of a scary thing because if you're investing a lot of resources into a famous influencer, you're putting a lot of your eggs in one basket. And if it doesn't work out, then there's not a good way to necessarily go back from that. 

Let's chat logistics & shipping. What have been some of the learnings on that front?

Logistics has been an evolution for sure.

We initially started out self-fulfilling. My entire house for the year of 2020 was just a golf warehouse. Every inch of my garage, living room, bedroom, all of it was stacked with golf equipment. God bless my husband for being so cool with that. I’d create labels and slap 'em on boxes and organize UPS pickups every day. 

That was a really great way to get a firsthand glimpse into what fulfillment looks like. We then graduated to a 3PL at the beginning of 2021 called ShipHero.

We had great success with them for a while, but then our requirements for customization surpassed their capabilities and we recently moved to a smaller 3PL where we built a strong relationship with the team.  

Let's get into the stack component. What are some of the tools powering Robin today?

Core Stack is Shopify for eCommerce;  Klaviyo for email, Attentive for SMS, Triple Whale for analytics. We switched to Junip for reviews. We also use ShareaSale from Refersion and Impact for affiliate marketing. 

We use Affirm for Buy Now Pay Later which is great because of their 3, 6 & 12 month payment periods. And for hiring, we’ve been experimenting with Parallel - which is like a younger / newer hiring platform than Workable or Greenhouse. 

Lastly - we’ve been using Fondue for cashback which has been awesome. It allows us to offer a rebate incentive rather than a discount incentive. 

Last question from me: What's been your key to success on Robin?

One of the things that I have learned is that being an entrepreneur is really, really hard. You deal with so much uncertainty, change and rejection - which causes a lot of emotional stress. So persistence and being ok with failure has been what’s kept me and the team going until today. 

Fantastic Peter. Thanks a lot for sharing your insights and good luck to you and Robin!