CALGARY – Young entrepreneurs Derek Rucki and Stefan Radeta met in class at Mount Royal University. Twenty-one-year-old Rucki was a golfer, and 22-year-old Radeta has a passion for technology. Fast-forward 18 months later, the pair is now making big strokes in the golf business.
“It’s taken a lot of hustle and you know, selling more of who we are as people and what myself and Stefan are able to do as entrepreneurs,” Rucki said.
They started with an idea sketched on paper, and eventually came up with “TLink,” a light GPS golf watch designed to help golfers pick the right club and raise their game.
It’s not the first but they hope it’s the best.
“The overall size of our product is half the weight and half the width of the current watches on the market, and those current watches have been shown to decrease driving distances by up to 20 percent,” Rucki said.
Instead of having a fat GPS unit inside the watch, their device connects to GPS via your smartphone.
Success didn’t happen overnight, but after a series of all-nighters they came up with the final product with help from a team in China.
“Because of the time difference, we’re awake here, they’re sleeping over there. I spent a lot of nights, at 3 or 4 a.m. just trying to talk to them,” Radeta said.
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After spending $40,000 of their own money, $50,000 in grants and raising the rest in Calgary, they’re currently raising another round of capital internationally evaluated at more than $2 million.
“It’s just unbelievable that you could just be this average guy in a classroom trying to get an ‘A’…to running your own company, to being known worldwide,” Radeta said.
“The highs are super high and the lows are super low but that’s what I love about it,” Rucki said.
The two students have worked under mentor Ray DePaul at the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Mount Royal University. DePaul says the time is now for them to risk it all to make their business succeed.
“They don’t have massive bank accounts but at the same time, they don’t have a lot of other distractions. They don’t have a mortgage, kids to worry about, they actually get to build their company in school,” DePaul said.
“If you’re young, you need to be willing to go all in on something, because you really have nothing,” Rucki said. “Right now I have nothing to lose, so why not go all in?”
The risk of starting a golf watch business is paying off even before graduation. The two young entrepreneurs are moving their business to golf hub Scottsdale, Arizona where investors will help them take sales above par.