Richard Edmonson, 61, would offer the following advice to budding entrepreneurs: Beware potential potholes. “Before committing to an entrepreneurial endeavor,” cautioned the CEO of Ridgeland, Miss.-based engineering company SkyHawke Technologies, “one would need to understand that rewards come with high risks. In that regard, entrepreneurs should make a realistic assessment of their applicable competencies and their commitment to a long road of potholes and blowouts.”
While Edmonson, like most successful entrepreneurs, has likely skirted a few potholes along the path to success, he has clearly found firm ground in the development of innovative positioning systems that enhance the golfing experience. CEO of SkyHawke Technologies since 1998, Edmonson observed a gap in the market for a positioning system (for recreational use) that could benefit from the rapid advances in wireless technology, the Internet, GPS and handheld devices. The company previously developed a GPS system for golf carts, then leveraged this experience and, under Edmonson’s direction, created the SkyCaddie, a personal GPS system about the size of a cell phone, for use by golfers on any course in the world. Heralded as the world’s first digital golf caddie, the hand-held SkyCaddie measures distance on a golf course using the same global-positioning system used by the U.S. military. It was the invention of this device that Edmonson feels was key to the company’s success.
“Leveraging our core competencies in the expected convergence of wireless devices, GPS and the Internet, my partners and I developed a solution to answer one of the oldest and most common questions in the popular game of golf: ‘How far?’” he said. “By being first in the market, we established our brand and built a barrier to entry against competition with a proprietary database of golf-course maps. We were also fortunate to have selected a receptive consumer market of 50 million golfers who seek ways to improve their game.”
CEOSkyHawke TechnologiesRidgeland, Miss.Annual sales: Not availableType of business: Manufacturer and online retailer of positioning systems for recreational use; hallmark product: SkyGolf SkyCaddie, a rangefinder for golfers.Areas of operation: 45 countries
Summarizing his, and his company’s, success, Edmonson said, “Innovation, speed to market, branding, creating barriers to competitive entry and commitment to quality have made our company No. 1 in its category.”
SkyHawke Technologies has no bricks-and-mortar stores; its products are sold via resellers and through its own Web site. The signature prod-uct—SkyCaddie—is used on more than 16,000 golf courses in 45 countries around the world.