Lifelong friends Will Newman and Trey Hicks met while growing up in the same High Point, N.C., neighborhood a few thousand feet away from each other. Twenty-five years later, the duo runs a startup together, Raleigh-based Recruitify. And fittingly for a company HQ’d on Tobacco Road, it’s all about basketball.
The world of amateur hoops, from youth leagues through Division I powerhouses, is made up of many different constituencies. Recruitify helps them all communicate with a simple-to-use software for tournament directors, leagues and teams, college coaches, and student-athletes.
The concept behind Recruitify originated when Hicks wanted to enter an entrepreneurship contest at High Point University, where both he and Newman attended. There was one catch: Hicks didn’t have an idea. Until…
“It was an idea that came to me totally randomly,” Hicks said, “and I wrote it down one late night. I then approached Will and told him that I’ve got this idea and there’s a contest at High Point and wanted to know if he would be interested in jumping in that with me, and he said yes.”
That contest didn’t really work out, but a few years later it led to Recruitify, which launched in 2014. After Hicks and Newman built a relationship with a basketball coach and event director, they decided to focus on elementary, middle school and high school basketball—organizing the registration processes, event scheduling and college basketball recruiting.
“All of that started from one person and we grew the application to over a dozen event directors across the country,” said Hicks, “from California and Texas to Cincinnati, Atlanta, and Virginia Beach—and even here in North Carolina.”
Hicks and Newman have brought in technical founder Ron Richardson and strategic partner Tracey Williams-Johnson to help grow their business. Williams-Johnson served as the assistant coach of women’s basketball at UNC for 19 years.
“She brings a wealth of knowledge and connections to us to help us grow the business internally,” Newman said.
In Recruitify’s business model, college coaches pay for packets of information on potential recruits while AAU teams and tournament directors pay for the event management software on a per-event basis. Now that Hicks and Newman feel they have cracked the business model, they are looking to raise funding beyond the early angel investment that helped launch the startup.
Recruitify’s location in Raleigh brings a special opportunity for the tech hub of RTP, Hicks said.
“I think there’s a lot of interesting opportunities that can come from potential interns and employees obviously being in the RTP area with Carolina, Duke and NC State,” Hicks said. “There’s not a better place in the country that you could be. I think the opportunity for people who are interested in sports and want to get into that side and even in the event-management side, I think there’s a lot of cool things that we can do and hopefully bring in people who can help us grow the business from that perspective.”
With 15 event directors and 1,200 college coaches on Recruitify’s platform, the founders feel Recruitify is making its impact in connecting all the pieces of the amateur basketball puzzle.
“I think there’s the overall benefit of the application and what we’re doing for the amateur athletic community of providing them with an application that really ties this ecosystem together and allows them to connect,” Hick said. “From the event director to the college coaches to mom and dad and the athlete—everybody having that one-stop-shop application for them to interact with each other.”