How Offbeat Culture and In-Depth Approach Has Brought Success to TeamSnap?
For those who actually have kids at home or a day job or both and do not have the time or inclination to work with a complicated software package. TeamSnap is here to save the day, with its cloud-based team management platform for not only parents and coaches but also at larger scale of group organizer. Leveraged smart technology it connects users within teams and help facilitate communication.
Founded in 2009, the company has nearly 100 employees. In August, it introduced Health Check, a health screening feature that has t has been used more than 14 million times. Last fall, the company also partnered with the Aspen Institution with $1 million commitment to expand access to sports for underserved youth. Recently, it just got acquired by Waud capital Partners.
The Classic Scratch-Your-Itch Founding Story
Classic scratch-your-itch story. More than a decade ago, Dave Dupont, like any parent with a kid in sport, was somewhere between annoyed and aggressively daunted with the clumsiness of keeping track of his kids’ team happenings. He wanted to solve his own problem as a coach working with youth sport teams by getting everyone to the right place at the right time with the right equipment, which was always a hassle for him as a coach and parent.
And as a born entrepreneur, he saw an opportunity in this problem. Dupont found and shake-hands with a couple of guys who had already started developing an internet solution and together they form TeamSnap, around 2009.
A decade later, the platform plays as an alpha, quietly growing its footprint from local teams to lager leagues worldwide in the sports team management space. Earlier this year, the company just announced its technology partnership with the NFL Flag. From parents to coaches, they use this solution in a free and upgraded monthly subscription version, to manage schedules, rosters, payments, and other team transactions.
“I like to say that the first thing we did was make sure that we developed a tool that made sure everyone showed up at the right place at the right time with the right stuff,” said TeamSnap’s CEO Dave Dupont, who’s currently working from home in Boulder, Colorado. “Over time, we’ve built on that initial product, which has been quite successful, and now provide a range of services to clubs, leagues and associations.
11 years under Dupont’s leadership, the company has grown to 150 employees and generated around $35.6 million in 2020, according to Getlatka. The company are in 177 countries and about 40% of its business is outside the US.
Mention the company’s business, there are up to three revenue streams the company is leveraging. First of all, with the SaaS component making up 40% total, it runs a model where teams and group can opt for one out of three pricing plans – free, basic, premium. Dupont shares, about 80 percent of the teams who actively use the service pay for basic or premium, because at about $7 to $10 per month users find it is not too much to pay for the convenience, the platform provides. Secondly, to a significant extent, they are collecting money for organizations, then the company take a small fee associated with the money they had collected, for a club, a league, or a tournament. Then, lastly, brands and products, and service providers pay the site to access its user base, for advertising and commerce.
Engagement – A core ingredient for any Secret Sauce
The first success point of this tech sport platform starts as it went viral, first-millions of customer acquisition completely by word-of-mouth.
The founder recalls how he created a solution for himself and the kids. Started testing themselves, introduced it to friends and such, just like that. Without any marketing whatsoever, the company got its first million users. When you had a certain mechanism built into the product, just with word-of-mouth you can go anywhere. Because with great product you gain loyal customer and loyal customers are the one that take you and your business places.
However, the math for a great product was no easy picking. To Dupont, anybody who says they have everything figured out about their business when they start it is not telling the truth. Product or people, all should take great time for evolving. At TeamSnap, they were not actually pivoted, but rather evolved their revenue stream, evolved the market they are going after, evolved the nature of the organization that they are pursuing. Starting with teams, moving up to clubs, leagues, associations and then the national governing bodies. Just with small steps, Dupont planned out where the company is at, and its target. Before getting places, you have got to know where to!
However, the company’s secrete sauce, was something its founder claims, lies in its genesis since day one. Engagement was something they had, and it turns out to be super valuable, especially for any SaaS model. Teams and players were really in need of a platform like this, and how Dupont has beautiful solved many problems, users are facing in daily managing activities has made the magic.
People talk a lot about customer acquisition and marketing strategies, but the number one thing you can do is to has something that is engaging, that can retain people over time, or else you don’t really have anything. No customer ever engages with your fabulous marketing, it’s the product that counts. You have to make something that is useful and provides values for people.
From 1 Million to 20 Million
Keep on with the growth, Dupont shares it was those super-users from the early days that, till today, still drive significant growth for the team.
Prior to this company, Dupont himself has been involved in growing a number of businesses, and one of the things he admits has witnessed is how everything pays off. In the beginning, it always benefits you to look for and take loving care of the people that pay more attention to you than it seems they should.
Those people, if you look at almost any business, they are ones who are major ingredient in success of almost any business venture. In case of TeamSnap, that was the mom-fluencers that has trusted and try them out in the first months. Use the term early-adopter – who for whatever reason, are psyched about what you are doing. At least that was what happened to Dupont and the site – the reason for their success in those large organizations over time.
The Beauty of Choosing Your Own Culture
Even though remote is no longer a queer way of working. However, back in 2009, it was a different story, Dupont has his way in and dominating the space with about 80% of staff working remotely. From early day and even recent day, the founder continues on an interview with Levelingup.
To start the story, let’s first trace back to Boulder, CO where the company is headquartered. With giants like Google, Amazon, and Techstars, it would be daunting and even expensive to compete for tech talents. So, Dupont and other companies like TeamSnap have in part turned to a remoted workforce to build a complete tech team that won’t be poached the second they show promise.
Executives tends to look at the necessity of a remote workforce as a struggle to overcome. However, Dupont himself takes a detour – that a remote workforce should be a weapon he can use to compete for top tech talent and a cultural driver for his business.
Even the developers that Dupont started the company with was living in Portland, Oregon. Dupont remembers he was out in the market looking for companions and just pointed straight to them as potential engineer he needed for what he wanted to build. "Eighty percent of our tech staff doesn't live in Boulder. And to me, that's a super advantage for us. We can be a source for social good. We look for talented motivated people who might be constrained by other life circumstances.”
Dupont has gone out of his way to create systems within his platform that doesn't just accommodate his remote workers but fosters an environment that allows his in-house group and virtual employees to thrive together. The founder share when he first brought on a new engineering leader and how he was very skeptical about the whole remote working thing. But now, he’s a complete convert – or even an evangelist for how well it can work. If you, do it right, you will end up with a more loyal workforce, and frankly you can save costs compared to have all your developers in the upper states.
Working on this culture, the founder on his own has to come up with many strategies to manage to connect people across channels. “Everyone gets their own Brady Brunch square.”
Dupont describes this meeting practice as his company's "Brady Brunch" meeting policy. "A couple of years ago we realized that if we were having a video conference, the people in the office hogged the conversation. And the people listening in had a hard time following who was talking. So, we changed our practice so that if there's just one person who is remote, everyone takes the meeting from their desk through the web conference. It dramatically and immediately changed our meeting dynamics. Suddenly, we were all equal."
His dedication to engraining remote workers into TeamSnap's winning culture has paid off. For the third year, the company was named to Outside Magazine's 100 best places to work. Over those three years, the headcount has tripled. Possessing a great culture at a snapshot in time is one thing but maintaining that culture during a stressful period of growth is another.
Dupont openly talks about his view on culture.
"Building a great culture is a partnership between everyone in the company. It cannot be something handed down from on high. We're building a platform that helps teams be more effective, so we think a lot about what makes great teams."
How the company’s founder approach to remote talent is just one amongst many exotic practices that has reinforce a culture that leads to winning.
The Mentality Going through Difficult Time – How Improvisation Could Save Organizations?
Last year when Covid-19 forced arenas to close, sport took a time out. So does the youth sports industry when schools moved to remote learning and parents were wary to register their kid in team sports. However, TeamSnap itself remained steady, according to Dupont.
It was the new partnership with Waud Capital Partners, which help accelerate the sports tech company’s growth plans – allow it to expand much faster than the site otherwise would have been able to. To double down on what it has already been doing and invest in some new areas.
Have been through decades of running and fixing business, Dupont says, he never went to business school. The entire time of navigating and find his own way out of challenging times, it was credited to the ability to improvise.
“I never went to business school. Instead, I took improv classes!”
Over the past 20 years, Dupont has performed in thousand od improv shows, taught many hundreds of students, and facilitated applied improvisation training for countless companies. In fact, TeamSnap’s culture, the founder says, was built on the foundational principle of improvisation, including cooperation, adaptability, flexibility and listening.
Improv has been the magical potion that helps the company react gracefully to unexpected challenges in this uncertain time, and unsettled world.
Dupont notes how most of his students are fearful on their first day of improv class, so he always has to remind them that they already know how to improvise – there is no script for life. The act of learning improve is merely the practice of opening one’s heart and one’s mind to embrace the unexpected. During his career, the founder claims he has seen how improv can fundamentally change lives and change organizations. As long as people begin to truly listen, to cherish the unknown, to laugh mistakes and to love saying yes to crazy ideas, magic happens.
To Dupont, that is what is occurring in the world today. Instead of letting the unexpected defeat us, we rise to the challenge with adaptability and creativity.
Another lesson Dupont holds up, from his favorite book The Start-Up of You, and claims that is good for everybody, not just people in the entrepreneurial world. He talks about the old world he came from where after graduated from college you could find a job, where companies recruited right on his campus, and they would hire him for a long time – which is a gone world. As for now, you have got to take the responsibility for your own career, in the case of people like him – an entrepreneur wishes to start his own companies, you have got to step up for yourself.
The Bottom Lines
A business is only as strong as its people. Being a seasoned entrepreneur and savvy leader, himself, David Dupont has managed to recruit the best people from separate places and develop such values that people believe in and able to connect to one another, just to deliver those exact values around.
It's how TeamSnap leverage remote working and how its founder approach challenges and customers that give depth into the entrepreneurship discussion.
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