Have you ever seen a custom logo or personalized golf ball on the green? Well, there’s a good chance it came from Golfballs.com, a Lafayette-based company which sells a wide variety of name brand golf balls, personalized golf balls, custom logo golfballs, and other golf accessories. Allison Good caught up with Tom Cox, the founder and CEO.
Allison: How and why did you go into the business of selling golf balls on the Internet?
Tom: When I got out of college I did golf club management, and in the early 1990s the Internet came along. By the mid-1990s it looked like E-commerce had a lot of potential. So I studied it and learned about it and used it. This was around the time when Amazon and eBay started. In December 1995 I took what I knew, which was golf, with the Internet, and I had the idea to start selling used golf balls on the Internet. When we launched the website and started selling, things really took off. In the first year of business we did $17,000 in sales, and in the third year we did $200,000. We started stocking new golf balls within about a year and a half of launching the company. By 1998 it was no longer my pet side project, but a full-time job.
Allison: How has Golfballs.com evolved since that initial phase?
Tom: Towards the end of the 1990s we started phasing out of used golf balls altogether. As mainstream America came online over the next few years, we started to stock more things that people would just buy regularly. In 2000 we started expanding into a full line of golf products and began to carve out a niche online for custom logo and personalized golfballs for companies and golfers.
Allison: What was the entrepreneurial atmosphere like in Lafayette at the time?
Tom: There really wasn’t much of an entrepreneurial ecosystem in place in Acadiana or Lafayette then, but we’ve made a lot of progress. Back then there were very few resources available. I didn’t know how to write a business plan, so I researched it. I researched the industry, and I reached out to people for advice.
Allison: So what’s changed?
Tom: For the last several years, we’ve had a 100-Megabit fiber connection throughout the community. It means that there’s a lot of new digital media upstart technology-focused businesses that are growing as we speak in this environment.
Allison: And last, but not least, what is your favorite golf ball?
Tom: They’re all my favorite, but when it comes to irons I do like to play with a nice Callaway RAZR X.