College and professional athletes have a robust ecosystem around them. Beyond coaches, players need access to nutritionists, psychologists, academic advisors, media relations, trainers, and more. Each one of those professionals needs to set up appointments to work with the athlete and set them up for success on and beyond the field.
Back in 2004, Zach Maurides experienced this complex, somewhat-inefficient system as a student on a football scholarship at Duke University. “One person would communicate verbally to me, then another one would text me or email me, and another one would leave a note in my locker. Inevitably lines of effort would get crossed and I’d end up double-booked,” says Maurides.
Together with technical co-founder Shaun Powell, he started developing an idea for a collaboration platform that would sync up all of these different elements for athletes in one place.
In this pre-smartphone era, the Teamworks platform was SMS-based to keep up with athletes and support teams on the move. Maurides graduated with seven teams on his startup’s client roster, including several Duke teams.
After a stint at another startup following graduation, Maurides, Powell, and co-founder Mitch Heath decided to go full-time on the athlete engagement platform in 2010. That initial SMS-based collaboration platform has grown into a broad solution for athletes and professional teams to collaborate better.
The app allows teams to schedule appointments, share files and vendor notes, manage travel itineraries, sign documents, and communicate internally. The Teamworks group took their time to find the right product fit and go-to-market strategy over the next five years, making sure to only include features that actually met their users’ needs.
“We saw an opportunity to build a software that would eliminate repetitive work the vast majority of the time. Then, we built this travel module for college teams, then went to the pros and iterated to match their needs,” says Maurides.
Those needs may range from staying on top of homework to staying on top of public appearances, interviews, injury rehabilitation and more.
The founding team has grown to more than 100 employees today, serving over 2400 teams in collegiate, national, and professional leagues including the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL. Most recently, the team onboarded the Boston Red Sox.
The startup has raised $21.3 million to date, with their last Series B round in early 2018. They run on a SaaS B2B revenue model with an annual licensing fee based on the number of seats. The platform can be customized to stay compliant with any required bylaws in the overseeing organization.
Similarly to their approach to product development, Maurides shares that being intentional about building a Teamworks culture that is true to their own principles. To further their impact in the sports industry, the team created Teamworks Academy. The career training program also serves as a recruiting funnel.
The Academy’s 6-12 month curriculum is designed to help former athletes transition from the game to an entrepreneurial or business career. It includes training in customer service, written and verbal communication, critical thinking, business acumen, and more. At the end of the program, the participants can join Teamworks’ customer success or sales team.
“We want to make sure that Teamworks is always by athletes, for athletes. We’re currently 70 percent former athletes. We saw an opportunity to help athletes in this difficult transition as their athletic career ends,” says Maurides.
“We are a customer-driven organization, so what better way to do that than by filling your company with former customers and be able to keep in touch with what their needs are?” says Maurides.
To extend that development even during the athlete’s sports career, Teamworks is launching a learning module within the app later this year. Teamworks Academics encourages academic retention and is supplemental to the athletes’ education.
It allows academic advisors to sync their learning management system and upload syllabi, assignments, and tutor appointments and set a measurable plan with benchmarks for the athletes.
“Athletes make great employees, team members and leaders — how do we get more of those folks in our organization?”