The sports memorabilia collection that covers seemingly every wall, countertop, and exposed surface area at Teamworks’ Durham headquarters started innocently enough. A few years back, CEO Zach Maurides asked for a Duke football helmet to decorate the company’s workspace. It was an easy request, given that Duke’s football program had been the very first client for Teamworks’ software platform connecting athletic teams and organizations way back in 2005 — when Maurides was a Duke undergrad who also happened to play offensive line on the football team.
The Duke headgear turned out to be Helmet Zero in an outbreak of sports swag thanks to virality of the best kind. Says Maurides, “We took a picture of the helmet and put it on social media. A few days later, a UNC helmet showed up. So that’s what we did — we posted when we got something new, the teams got competitive when they saw we had something from their rivals, and they started sending things on their own.”
Everywhere you turn at Teamworks’ recently expanded and renovated digs in downtown Durham, you’ll see an autographed jersey, a football helmet, a signed baseball, or metal bleachers atop artificial turf. It’s like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory for sports fans. But the museum-like digs serve a purpose beyond eye candy.
“A big part of this environment is being reminded every day: this is who you’re serving,” says Maurides. “The people who sign the checks to us, the teams and leagues, they’re our partners, not our customers. Our customers are the athletes. We and our partners have a shared mission to serve athletes.”
That intentionality is on display throughout the building at 122 E Parrish St. Maurides and his team have created a cool office, yes, but more than that, they’ve tried to represent and reinforce Teamworks’ mission and values in its physical environment. The walls really are supposed to talk, whether it’s a signed jersey from the Nashville Predators (honoring their first NHL client) or a wall of “baseball cards” depicting employees in the order in which they were hired, with an autographed baseball from each one.
The current Teamworks office is the company’s third — or fourth, depending on how one counts. Maurides and his two Co-Founders, Mitch Heath and Shaun Powell, were all onboard fulltime by the spring/summer of 2010 to make a business of the product that had first been used by the Duke football team back in 2005. (Maurides, a ’07 fall semester grad from Duke, spent about two years working at SciQuest, which sold a SaaS product to a client base dominated by higher education customers, and still counts SciQuest’s then-CEO Steve Wiehe as a mentor and close friend.)
The first company office was in the basement of the Trotter Building in Durham. Half of the space was underneath a CrossFit gym, so they’d hear weights smashing to the ground, while the other half was under a dance studio that got especially lively during senior swing classes in the evening.
In late 2013, by which time Teamworks had added a fourth employee, they moved to an office park on Lyckan Parkway in Durham, off 15/501 and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. “You could walk to a Taco Bell,” says Maurides. “It was great.” They were there for a little less than three years, growing to about 20 employees while steadily expanding their footprint — from 750 square feet, to about 1,500, to 3,000, and finally 3,500.
The then-20-strong Teamworks crew moved into the current 122 E Parrish building in February, 2016, and originally thought that the 9K square feet would fit them comfortably until sometime this year. But their growth was much quicker than even they expected, so they purchased another building around the corner on Church Street last year and set about combining the two. They were able to move into the newly connected and remodeled section this September, almost doubling their space to about 16K square feet in the process.
Maurides estimates that the current building can fit about 135 employees comfortably and 155 “uncomfortably,” and Teamworks is currently at a little over 100, up from 50-60 at the start of 2018. That rapid growth has been fueled by a $15.3M Series B led by Boston-based VC General Catalyst that closed in February, and the Teamworks platform now connects roughly 2,000 sports teams in college and pro sports.
Maurides estimates that Teamworks will start straining capacity in its new building by about mid-2019, though he hopes that they can find additional space nearby in downtown Durham to add on, rather than moving again.
Indeed, it would be a shame to leave such a souped-up space, which is loaded with touches intended to reinforce the company’s values. Since downtown Durham parking is forever an issue, the smallish, on-site company lot has reserved, numbered spaces only for the first 17 employees (or the lucky few who have ascended the ladder upon any departures from the original crew) in recognition of their jumping aboard early and sticking around.
The building has a nice roof view, which Teamworks is also making into a reward. An old-school, UK-style red phone booth will guard the only access point. Upon an employee’s one-year anniversary — or some special achievement by a newer worker — the lucky recipient will receive a special number to dial on the phone. In a scene out of Get Smart, a successful connection will cause the windows to fog up and the back wall of the booth to retract, revealing the stairs to the roof. (The roof will be open to all employees on Friday afternoons.)
“It was important to us to have visible rewards that are in keeping with our core values,” says Maurides of the parking spots and phonebooth. “Two of those values are commitment and exceptionalism. So these are ways to reward loyalty and outstanding performance that people can see.”
Such flourishes are hard to miss at Teamworks HQ. Which is precisely the point.