Hitting a Hole in One

Gates. Jobs. Andreessen. Dell. Names to conjure with. Kids who had an idea (or borrowed one) and made millions. Now there’s another youngster who may be trembling on the brink of a fortune: 23-year-old Amar Goel, founder and president of Chipshot.com.

Way back in 1995, a few months after Amazon.com first went on-line, Goel, a Harvard sophomore and a member of the Crimson’s varsity golf team, set up a Web site from his dorm room. It sold discounted brand-name golf stuff. Call it the Amazon business model.

But it didn’t work so well. “We couldn’t save the consumer much money,” says Goel. Consequently, Goel couldn’t make much money.

So in 1996, Goel began assembling custom-made clubs at the company’s Sunnyvale, Calif., headquarters using the same parts (heads, shafts, grips) the Callaways and Taylors used. By offering a quality product without the marketing overhead, Goel grabbed “a better margin” and “a better connection with the customer.” Call it the Dell model.

In 1998, buoyed by US$25 million in venture capital, Goel rolled out a proprietary technology called PerfectFit. Now a golfer can go to Chipshot.com and, using pull-down menus, enter his or her height, sex and skill level, and Chipshot will assemble a custom-fitted club that Goel believes will shave strokes off anyone’s game. Recently, he also became a club manufacturer, putting the Chipshot.com logo on clubs.

Today, Goel has more than 150 employees. Can an IPO be far off? Probably not.

For more information, visit www.chipshot.com.