As FlightScope’s inventor and CEO, Henri Johnson has led the company from a South African start up to a global leader in technology. With an extensive background in Doppler radar tracking systems for the defense industry, Johnson created the 3D technology that measures the velocity and ballistics of projectiles in flight that powers FlightScope today. He is a leader in the field of innovation dedicated to providing sports pros and enthusiasts breakthrough technology that results in true advancement. Henri has won various awards for innovation, including the Minister’s Award for overall technological innovation for small enterprise (South Africa) and the Endeavor Entrepreneur Award (U.S.).
THE JOHNSON STORY
After working with FlightScope’s original technology in South Africa in 1989, I knew the accuracy and precision of the technology could benefit other industries as well. This, mixed with the unfortunate sanctions against South Africa at the time that made exporting products difficult, transitioned FlightScope to naturally enter additional markets. We began making technology for cricket, then tennis, and finally golf. While I hadn’t grown up around golf, once FlightScope entered the sport, I found a passion for the game that still exists today.
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion for you?
I want to make a difference in what I do and that drives me.
What was the genesis for FlightScope?
We started in the defense industry, measuring projectiles fired from big guns. After that, in 1994, we developed 3D trajectory radars for long range projectile tracking. We were asked to develop an automatic Cricket Bowling Speed system, which then started our progress in the sport industry. After entering the world of Cricket, we make a 3D serve speed system for tennis. Then, in 2000, we started the development of a golf radar. Our first commercial golf radar was developed for About Golf Simulators. In 2002, we developed an outdoor radar for golf driving ranges. The rest followed.
How long did it take to create — from idea inception – to mass production?
The longest cycle was the consumer product, FlightScope mevo, which took approximately 4 years from concept to mass production.
How does FlightScope separate itself from others in the category?
FlightScope strives to provide exceptional quality at affordable prices in order to enable the market to own FlightScope products. We also continue development and product improvement all the time.
Golfers today have the wherewithal to access considerable information. How much information can lead to overload and paralysis by analysis since a major element of golf is personal feel?
Although FlightScope can provide loads of data, we believe that a golfer should focus on one or two things at a time as feedback in a goal seeking manner. We work hard to offer data that is accurate, actionable and targeted to assist users, without overwhelming them.
In approximate percentages where will FlightScope be concentrating when selling among green grass shops, online and via brick and mortar locations?
The company will continue to sell in a number of different outlets including teaching professionals, pro shops, online (mevo) and more.
What role does consumer feedback play with the product and future design efforts?
We use consumer feedback to steer our development efforts all the time.
You can change one thing in golf unilaterally — what would it be and why?
I would change the way that golf is taught to beginners. It is too confusing and not effective as a general rule.
The major golf associations — USGA, R&A, PGA of America, PGA TOUR, LPGA — are all attempting to attract new players to the game — especially among Millennials, women and minorities. If you were advising them what would you recommend be the key strategies to use?
Have beginner programs at lowered cost; Make student prices at lowered cost; Have more amateur competitions with decent prizes; Make fully instrumented golf course with electronic scoring, feedback on all shots and social media connections in real time.
Best advice you ever received – what was it and who from. Conversely, what advice would you pass on to those just starting their professional careers?
The power of positive thinking : Norman Vincent Peale Anything worthwhile takes exceptional effort and perseverance. Success is not a gamble: It comes from chasing a dream and very hard work.