Experiencing the common disdain of fellow disc golfers, Simon Park had just tossed his bright-orange disc and saw exactly where it landed, but after a frustrating and unsuccessful search in the grass later, it was a goner.
As Eve Olynyk took Park through his first round on Vancouver Island, the lost saucer could’ve served as a symbol of their entrepreneurial plight. The pair are co-founders of the Victoria start-up MeepMeep, which has received plenty of interest in its stick-on disc golf tracker.
Olynyk grew up playing with her family on Salt Spring Island and loved how approachable and low-cost the activity is. But like Park’s experience, she had her share of mid-round rage quits over her discs vanishing in the grass. Assuming some sort of tracker existed but not finding any, she pitched the idea to the University of Victoria’s innovation centre.
That’s where she was introduced to Park, another Vikes alum and a mechanical engineer. Two-and-a-half years later, they’re a long way from duct-taping a prototype to the discs and have seen their product take flight with players across North America.
MeepMeep’s locators stick to the frisbees with an adhesive ring that allows users to easily remove and transfer them onto another disc in their arsenal. When the disc disappears after settling in the grass or takes a wayward bounce off a tree, players open their Camosun College-developed MeepMeep app and, with a press of a button, their tracker starts chirping to give off its location.
“It’s pretty wild how hidden (discs) can be sometimes,” Olynyk said, noting the long grass, bushes and trees players have to snake their way around en route to the target. “The disc golfers immediately get it, I don’t want to spend any more time looking for my disc, I want to have fun, I want to actually improve my game.”
The design was driven by the feedback of golfers to ensure it was player-friendly. The co-founders heard anything they made would have to be lightweight, not affect flight and be durable enough to withstand the trees that make up many disc golf courses. Hundreds of design concepts led to their current product, which sold out its first production run as the trackers are being shipped out across North America.
The Looney Tunes-inspired “MeepMeep” moniker came to Olynyk one day as she said an errant throw can make you feel like you’re Wile E. Coyote being mocked in Roadrunner fashion by the disc in hiding out in the forest. It also embodies the humour that’s central to the sport.
“Disc golf as a community is so fun and goofy and doesn’t take itself seriously, so we wanted to build that into our brand,” she said.
It’s been a good time to introduce their device to the market as the sport is enjoying a stint of rapid growth, especially during the pandemic.
“Disc golf for a long time was niche,” Park said. “Now it’s started to become a little bit more mainstream, which is kind of crazy, so it’s a good time to be in this space.”
The founders also want to help that growth, as they hope their noise-making tracker, and accessible app, will open the sport to those with visual impairments. MeepMeep also sees its product as a way to end the days of lost discs and speed up the game, especially for kids and newcomers who may not have their shots nailed down.
“This is such a good way to introduce newer people to the sport because less frustration equals more fun,” Olynyk said.
MeepMeep strives to be a values-first company by using sustainable materials and hiring early-career workers. It’s also committed to staying Island-based despite the added logistical headache that brings. Assembling every tracker by hand is well worth it if they can give back to the community and people that got them to this point.
“We’ve made a very conscientious choice that we want this to be a Victoria success story,” Olynyk said.
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