We spoke with Cuater co-founder Robbie McKnight to learn more about the licensing deal with TravisMathew announced last month, his insights on starting a brand, and what the deal means for both Cuater and TravisMathew going forward.
Why did you decide on a licensing arrangement rather than an acquisition, equity investment, or other option?
Cuater co-founder Robbie McKnight: We felt at this stage it was a great opportunity to license the Cuater brand for some of the TravisMathew’s accessories. They are giving us a huge boost in distribution, sales, and infrastructure help.
What was the best part of starting a new brand for you? And what has been the most challenging?
Robbie McKnight: The best part of starting a new brand was learning all the various parts that go into a business. Finding that balance and interrelation between sales, marketing, design, and production in a startup was an invaluable experience. It’s also been very fun working with my partners and my Dad, which has been a very rewarding process. The most challenging thing has been finding a balance in my day-to-day life. As a startup, wearing a thousand hats and doing everything is what it takes and taking that and balancing it with my personal life has been a learning process.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about starting a business?
Robbie McKnight: The most important thing I’ve learned is that the quality of product, distribution and the people I work with are paramount. Without these three things, a brand will never last. I’m very fortunate to be working with the team we have, and it’s special for me to see the passion everyone has for the brand. We all bring new and different things to the table which is essential for growth and decision making.
What impacts will your licensing deal with TravisMathew have on Cuater’s operations?
Robbie McKnight: We will lean on their infrastructure, supply chain, and distribution into golf shops. Having access to the TravisMathew sales professionals is a major benefit so we can focus on evolving the product and categories. The biggest change you will find from an outside perspective will be administrative documents containing TravisMathew logos on them.
Does this arrangement mean we’ll see more Cuater products in golf retail?
Robbie McKnight: Yes, you will be able to find Cuater product in more golf retail as we move forward. With our Cuater specific fixture, this will always give us control in maintaining our brand and separating ourselves within each store.
Your ties were strong with TravisMathew to start, with Ben Donnelly your co-founder on the TravisMathew marketing team and CEO Travis Brasher an original advisor. Was a combination part of the original plan for Cuater?
Robbie McKnight: Travis Brasher, Nathan Borroff, and Ben Donnelly have all been a part of growing and taking TravisMathew to the place it is today. Naturally, we have always had strong ties to TravisMathew because of this. No, this licensing deal was never part of the original game plan at all. The more we met, the more this idea gained traction and it seemed to make sense for both Cuater and TravisMathew.
And finally, what are the terms of the deal -- how long is the arrangement, what are the performance benchmarks, and what the financial responsibilities are for Cuater and TravisMathew? Was this a capital event for any of the original individual investors?
Robbie McKnight: Information in regards to the structure of the deal is confidential, but let’s just say, we are shooting for big things and have set our goals high.