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How Vertus Group Helped Club Caddie Grow

February 29, 2024
Case Study: Club Caddie with Founder Jason Pearsall

Before starting Club Caddie, Founder Jason Pearsall was a member of the NGCOA as the owner and managing partner of a golf course in Michigan. As the best products often are, Club Caddie was born out of a frustration Pearsall and his team kept encountering - there was no all-in-one cloud solution that could manage the complex needs of their semi-private golf course and banquet operation. After testing their innovative new product at their own club, Pearsall and his team brought Club Caddie to market in 2019 and immediately caught the eyes of both Golf Club Managers and Vertical Market Software Acquirers like Vertus Group. 

This month marks the 4-year anniversary of Club Caddie's acquisition by Vertus Group. Over the past four years, Club Caddie has experienced remarkable growth and has established itself as a leading player in the Club Management Software industry. We had the opportunity to sit down with Pearsall to learn more about the impact that joining Vertus Group has had on Club Caddie and how the company plans to leverage this relationship into the future. 


Why did you decide to sell to Vertus Group?

At Club Caddie, we're a blue collar, "get it done" type of team which takes pride in sacrificing to meet the needs of our clients. We could tell that the Vertus M&A team really appreciated the long-term view we had with respect to building relationships with our customers and most importantly, the buy-and-hold forever assurance. 

We had seen our competitors get acquired by private equity firms. We had seen the forced layoffs, the reduced R&D spend, and them getting squeezed. Vertus Group had a long-term plan to continue to build our teams, develop our product and accelerate our opportunity to become the market leader in the Club Management Software space. 


How has Club Caddie evolved since its acquisition? 

Our growth has been incredible. For 4 consecutive years we’ve doubled our client base, so we’ve grown from 50 to 400 clients. Our revenue is growing at an even more significant clip. We have a real chance of doubling again this year, so make it a fifth year of growth.

The Jonas Club Software (another company in Vertus Group’s portfolio) brand gave us instant recognition and credibility and most importantly, we’re spending our time working in our business instead of fundraising. It has given us more time to develop leaders on our team to build support and functional teams. We’re in a much better position than we were pre-acquisition.


What has being a part of the Vertus Group ecosystem meant for your business? 

Being a part of Vertus Group and having the Jonas Club Software brand association has given us credibility that as a startup you don’t often have. When your customers know you’re going to be around for the future, you have solid financial backing, you have a reputation for continuing to do the right thing for your customers, and you continue to build your product, those things translate into us closing more deals. This was just being part of the Vertus Group brand.

There are also dozens of other vertical market software companies that are very similarly situated to Club Caddie and have gone through the same learnings that we have. Being able to talk to other companies and say, “how did this go for you?” or “how did you manage this?” has been really helpful. We feel like we’re not going into decisions blind, we’re going in informed by the prior learnings of our sister companies.

We’re excited because there are a lot of other tools within the portfolio like property management systems or other hospitality related software that give us a competitive advantage to have as a sister company and that we can integrate directly with. It is also exciting because we have the opportunity to acquire any company that can help us grow. It is nice to have that M&A arm working behind you.


What has been the most meaningful impact that Vertus Group has had on the Club Caddie team?

What has helped the most is sharing best practices. We’ve learned how to run our business in a way that has a defined future as opposed to running it day-to-day. We’re looking towards what makes sense in two years, what makes in five years, what is the ROI on this investment or on this decision, things we just didn’t look at in the past.

I feel like we have become competent software leaders who know how to run a viable business in this space, whereas before we were just a bunch of people who worked really hard and were passionate about doing the right thing for our customers.

We’ve kind of gotten a real-world MBA through the Vertus Group acquisition and we’re definitely in a much better position to lead our company than we were before the acquisition.


How has Vertus Group impacted your own career?

I sleep at night now.

As a startup founder, you spend your time worrying about your team. They have families that are depending on paychecks, and you have to raise capital and hit your targets. It’s extremely stressful. You also feel like you’re never really working in your business, you’re always just trying to survive another day.

Post-acquisition, it’s nice to know our team has stable paychecks coming. Even if we have a down quarter, you don’t need to cut people as long as they’re doing their jobs. It’s made it a lot easier to just run the company and not worry quite as much.


How do you see Club Caddie growing in the future?

We’ve become the fastest growing golf course management company in the public and multi-course operator space and no doubt that is attributable to our integration with Vertus Group.

We’re expanding our total addressable market, adding additional verticals, adding additional clients, and looking at things like the private club space and golf simulator businesses. Another example is we have a dedicated Artificial Intelligence team comprised of a data scientist and two software developers who are spending every day working on building the future of AI and golf course management software.

We are able to not just focus on where we are going to be in six months, but being able to look at where we are going to be in five years. This gives us an exciting opportunity that we’re really looking forward to taking advantage of.

It’s been a ride for us, but a really enjoyable one. We’re proud to be part of Vertus Group.


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