While the pandemic initially brought college and professional sports to a screeching halt—and then kept fans away and revenues slashed for even longer—it obviously did little to slow down Durham-based Teamworks for very long.
Teamworks, which bills itself as the “Operating System for Sports,” recently announced a new $50M round of funding for its SaaS platform that powers more than 5,000 sports organizations around the world, including college athletic departments and teams across all of the major professional leagues.
The Series D round was led by Colorado-based Delta-v Capital but also included Seaport Capital, General Catalyst, Teamworthy Ventures, Blossom Street Ventures, Afia Capital and more than 30 current and retired professional athletes. Two-time NBA champion David Robinson, Atlanta Falcons quarterback and 2014 Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota, and Racing Louisville FC and 2019 Women’s World Cup Champion Jessica McDonald were just a few of the sports names that put their money into Teamworks’ future.
CEO Zach Maurides said Teamworks will use the funding to drive performance and innovation in its current product portfolio while expanding into new product categories. This means recruiting the best tech sports entrepreneurs and offering customers entirely new features.
“Our customers should expect to see us continue to find the absolute best and brightest in this industry and bring them into the fold,” Maurides said. “We are trying to build a team that can win a Super Bowl.”
This builds on a path of previous acquisitions. In 2019, Teamworks bought INFLCR, a premier brand-building tool for athletes; and in 2021, it acquired Notemeal, a performance nutrition platform for athletes.
Every time they make an acquisition, Maurides said, it’s about adding to the team, ultimately becoming a company that will play the same role in sports technology that the iPhone did in mobile technology. While there will undeniably be other sports tech companies that prefer not to be acquired, Maurides said they will engage in partnerships so that these products can also reach Teamworks’ customers faster and create more value.
Since Teamworks’ Series C round, the startup has fully modernized its core tech platform and added hundreds of clients. They currently serve more than 5,000 sports organizations around the world and employ workers in 25 states and eight countries.
That relentless growth convinced Delta-v Capital to not only continue on its ride with Teamworks, but to lead the charge.
“Since our first investment two years ago, we have been tremendously impressed with Teamworks’ dedication to the needs of their customers and their relentless drive to innovate,” said Delta-v Capital Partner Dan Williams. “Teamworks has become the clear, market-leading software platform upon which elite sports teams run their day-to-day operations.”
Teamworks originally came to fruition when Maurides, who attended Duke University on a football scholarship, realized how disconnected all of Duke’s student-athlete resources were. Coaches, trainers, dietitians, sports psychologists and tutors were all interacting with athletes through different mediums.
Maurides started the company while still in college as a centralized portal for student athletes. After working for Jaggaer (formerly known as SciQuest) out of college and gaining insight into how to build a B2B SaaS company, Maurides went fulltime with Teamworks. The company was bootstrapped until the end of 2015 before it raised a Series A round of $6 million.
With this $50 million round, Teamworks has raised over $100 million in total including previous rounds led by Delta-v Capital, General Catalyst and Seaport Capital. This round was primarily comprised of previous investors, Maurides said, which provides an advantage since there will be no disruptions to the board.
Over the years, Teamworks has evolved and grown with the problems of the sports industry. They now see their role as providing structure to the digital transformation that is taking place.
When Covid hit, it was a mix of challenges and opportunities for the company, according to Maurides. While they naturally dealt with the problems of sick employees and those who lacked child care during this time, Maurides believes the pandemic ultimately accelerated Teamworks’ business. After all, its core product works to solve communication issues when multiple people are not in the same room, which became an even larger challenge during Covid.
Plus, the desire for change in sports is fast accelerating, as disruption to the industry is everywhere. College athletes can now earn money from their name, image and likeness (NIL). College athletics programs are now recruiting from other universities, not just high schools, which has traditionally been the case. The NCAA has been restructured, as close to a hundred athletic directors and commissioners have retired in the last three years, Maurides said.
“What you have is an industry that has a very great appetite for change, I would say almost an imperative to change,” Maurides said. “When you’re somebody that is trying to introduce disruptive technology into an industry, your number one competitor is the industry’s unwillingness to change.”
In a moment like this when the entire industry feels the need to rewrite the playbook from the ground up, it’s a great time to be driving digital transformation in sports, Maurides said.
In three years, Maurides would love to see more than 500 partners on the Teamworks platform. As Teamworks gears up for even more growth, the company is hiring for 25-plus open positions.
“There’s just an exceptional level of excitement, probably more excitement at Teamworks than we felt since the very early founding days,” Maurides said. “We are able to deliver what we’ve been dreaming of for the last four years.”
Teamworks’ team is incredible, Maurides said, and they are eager to continue addressing the widening sports tech market.
“There’s a lot of reasons why people go to work at a startup, a lot of good pragmatic reasons,” Maurides said. “But I think the best one is to just go and do something worth doing with a group of people you love. That’s what we have right now, and I hope we can hold on to this as long as possible because that’s what makes magic happen.”