Knowing how to pivot in times of uncertainty. I wish someone told us we were on the brink of a global pandemic so we would be prepared. Like a lot of businesses we were in a bit of a scramble.
New technologies have changed the way we engage in and watch sports. Sensors, Wearable Tech, Video Assistant Referees (VAR), and Instant Replay, are examples of new technologies that have changed the way we play and watch sports. In this interview series called, “The Future of Sports; New Emerging Technologies That Are Disrupting The World Of Sports,” we are talking to sports leaders, athletes, sports tech experts, and sports equipment companies who can talk about the new technologies that are reshaping the sports world.
As a part of this interview, we had the pleasure of interviewing Scott Hutchison.
Hutchison is the CEO of Strikeman, a new laser training system that allows firearm owners to practice their shooting skills safely at home. A serial entrepreneur, Scott has founded a number of other ventures, including Dreamhug Canada and Meowingtons. He graduated from Queen’s University with a B.A. in Psychology.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
We are a Canadian company who got the idea to use technology to make dry-fire shooting practice fun and accessible.
Growing up me and my brother would only get to practice our shooting at the cottage, so I have a lot of experience when it comes to firearms. I came up with the Strikeman idea when another venture wasn’t doing great and I felt I needed an exit plan. This is my very first startup venture, and I’m happy it has been successful.
The new laser technology to practice your shooting skills makes it a lot of fun. It can show how accurate your shot is very quickly. There’s an added social element to it too. The new app allows competition, kind of like Strava, where you can be social and challenge friends by using our Strikeman app.
With the use of our app I have hopes to convert gamers who like to play games like Call of Duty. Strikeman is designed to be just as engaging and fun. Also, we hope to make the sport of shooting more accessible. People can get better at their shooting skills without ever needing to leave their home. It makes for less money being spent on ammunition and driving out to the cottage or gun range.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I found there is not a lot of innovation in the firearm industry. “Seasoned veterans of the sports shooting circuit and many gun shop owners probably could have started this type of niche of dry-fire technology years ago?” There was an incredible opportunity with this new technology.
In terms of competition, I think a lot is held back because they don’t seem to be as savvy on the digital marketing side. This gives Strikeman an advantage. On top of this, there’s a convergence where this type of technology is tied into an app, which creates the space for Augmented Reality. I’m very pleased that the convergence suddenly became viable. This created a window of opportunity to get into a blue-ocean business. The new product was low cost and could enter into an entirely new marketplace.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” — Winston Churchill. This is the quote that I lived by in my first few months of start up. I was that stereotypical founder working 16-hour days figuring out sales, distribution, accounting and everything else. To stay sane, I would work out 5 times a day and religiously meditate. I still meditate for 30 minutes before I leave my house. It was a crazy time, but I managed and got through. Now the work is a lot easier.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Yes absolutely. I would not have been able to achieve the success we have seen without the help of my brother, Sean. He is a wizard of marketing. Since stepping into his role at Stikeman sales have drastically increased. I knew he was the right guy for the job when I witnessed sales going from 4,000 a day to 80,000.
Is there a particular book, film, or podcast that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Sure, when I started my journey into e-commerce in my early 20s, for years, I used to listen to Gary Vaynerchuk’s videos. Gary can be considered an e-commerce guru.
However, the most impactful was a really great mentorship with Bill Campbell. He founded a number of really big internet companies in the 90s and has a lot of great experience and knowledge with tech startups. He is the former Apple and Intuit executive who now has turned into a coach for promising startups. I think he’s brilliant, if you don’t know who he is, definitely check him out.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
I say forget everything, just meditate. I believe meditation is the key to my success. It helps to get your mind quiet and inspiration comes from a quiet mind. I don’t leave my house until I get at least 30 minutes on the cushion, where I’m quiet. The only way for me to come up with good ideas is to get my mind to shut up. Meditation is a game charger. It’s a secret weapon.
For example, when building up my business at the time I had a ton of feedback during product development I needed to quiet my mind and think of a strategic business plan. To do this I meditated every single day, this also kept me grounded in a time of high stress. Anyways, I would come out of meditation every morning and jot down three to four ideas that would pop into my head. After a few months of this I ended up with a blueprint for my business that worked well.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
We are making the sport of shooting easy to access, because now there is less of a barrier to enter into the sport. You no longer have to buy rounds to shoot at a range. Since COVID hit, dry-fire shooting practice is now prescribed by Biathlon Canada as an alternate way to practice your shooting skills from home. So, if you have hopes to become an Olympic Biathlon athlete then this is a great tool to include in your training regime.
Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about the sports technologies that most excite you at the moment? Can you explain why you are passionate about it?
At the moment we are excited about drones and how this technology has changed things, not only in sports media coverage but even in the realm of fighting forest fires. We are trying to come up with some sort of moving target practice and are working with a company who created the use of drones to help fight forest fires. This would be an incredible upgrade to the current product. It would increase the range of skills you can practice from home. It would almost be like a simulated clay shooting practice where you could hone in on your skeet shooting, which actually was once an Olympic sport.
How do you think this might change the world of sports?
We hope the world of sport shooting finds out about our dry-fire shooting technology and sees the value in it for their training purposes. Ideally I would want Strikeman to be the sponsor for elite shooting athletes. Perhaps even support some of these athletes in their dream of going to the Olympics. That would be pretty cool.
Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?
One of the challenges a lot of shooters face when training is they flinch or react in anticipation of the gun’s recoil. That can throw off your aim. Dry-fire training can be great for countering this. You train your brain not to expect that explosion at the end of the barrel and so you take a natural shot.
However, if you’ve been training with the Strikeman system too long, the reverse would come into play when you’re doing live fire training. That is, your brain feels like there’s not going to be that reaction from the actual bullet being fired. And then, feeling what it’s really like, it could throw you off temporarily. That’s why many shooters do a mix of both. Dry-fire training saves you money, so you’re not literally blasting away hundreds of dollars at the range every time. But it’s a supplement to live practice.
What are the 3 things that concern you about the sports industry today? Can you explain? What can be done to address or correct those concerns?
There is currently not a lot of sport shooting being covered by mainstream media. This might be because there is a stigma around owning firearms or maybe the audience for sport shooting isn’t there anymore? I don’t know.
If we can popularize the world of sport shooting again that would be awesome, because that would probably help destigmatize owning a firearm.
Some people don’t realize that firearm owners are great people who are responsible and very level headed.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Knowing how to pivot in times of uncertainty. I wish someone told us we were on the brink of a global pandemic so we would be prepared. Like a lot of businesses we were in a bit of a scramble.
- Start small and grow from there. I wish we knew the magic number for our inventory during a major spike in sales. At one point we felt we could hardly keep up with sales.
- Navigating online marketing can be tricky, we have had challenging experiences with social media policies. With the help of Sean Strikeman has been able to cleverly get around a few policies. I won’t share more, it’s top secret.
- Create a solid business plan in the beginning, then follow through! I don’t think I could have come up with a better business plan without my daily meditation. The ideas probably wouldn’t have come to me.
- Having stamina, I put in a lot of long hours to get this off the ground. One benefit of this I guess was my fitness also increased because I felt the need to work out like five times a day.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I think it would be great if I could influence people to be more mindful, especially being a firearm owner you need to be level headed and responsible. I’ve learned that through my daily meditation practice there is a lot that is transferable. This helped me in my business and also my accuracy for shooting. Also, with the rise of anxiety and more people experiencing challenges with mental health I think bringing in a daily meditation practice can help clear your mind and make you feel centred.
We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
The king of Biathlon, Ole Einer Bjorndalen who is from Norway. He is the greatest of all time Biathlon athlete, with 15 Olympic medals and 45 medals from the Biathlon World Championships. I would like to know how he mixes dry-fire training with his range practice and if he would give Strikeman a try.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
We have a website, www.strikeman.io This is also where you can download our Stikeman app and have fun practice dry fire shooting with your friends.
Thank you so much for these excellent stories and insights. We wish you continued success on your great work!
Thanks, much appreciated.