Day 1

1We always look forward to Jeff Bezos annual letter for Amazon.

2016 Letter to Shareholders.

As usual, he always attaches this first year letter where he talks about this being Day 1. This year he makes the point that it is still Day 1:

“obsessive customer focus is by far the most protective of Day 1 vitality”

RunSignUp is in our 7th year, but it still feels like Day 1 around here.  There is so much that we can still create for our customers. Even though our focus is much, much tighter than Amazon (we only focus on providing technology to the endurance market), we still have an unlimited number of things we can do to make our customer’s lives better.

This year we are creating a next generation Scoring platform that timers will be able to use for the next decade, and creating an Analytics platform that will drive Race Promotion capabilities for races that have in the past only been in the hands of the most advanced web companies. And next year there will be even more we can do.

As Bezos points out:

“Embrace External Trends – The outside world can push you into Day 2 if you won’t or can’t embrace powerful trends quickly. If you fight them, you’re probably fighting the future. Embrace them and you have a tailwind.”

With technology rapidly evolving, our ability to bring that technology to races and the endurance community will continue to enhance our industry.

And it is only Day 1.

Jeff Kiesel to lead User Interface and User Experience Refresh

jkJeff Kiesel started a couple of weeks ago to lead efforts improving the User Interface and User Experience for both participants and race directors. Jeff worked with us part time a few years ago, and we are lucky he responded to our call for a new UI/UX Developer. Bob has worked with Jeff at two other companies in the past, and can attest to Jeff’s design and technical talent and his caring for the user experience.

We are going to flip back and forth between the UI participants see and the UI that Race Directors and Timers see. The improvements will be incremental in nature, the the goal of reducing clutter and making user’s lives simpler. We will be making small improvements and releasing them quickly so we can get feedback on our directions.

Race Website Improvements

Our first set of improvements that you will see are for Race Websites. In fact, we released the start of one set of design changes with the font on the Menu Bar. We are moving away from the Sanchez font towards sans-serif fonts to clean up the UI and make it simpler to look at. The old is on the right and the new is on the left.

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We also plan on deemphasizing the RunSignUp brand seen in race websites, and the gain some real estate to emphasize the race. We are going to offer a couple of options soon for the header. The default will place the top menu choices for Profile, My Races, Help and LogOut in the upper right corner something like this:

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We will also offer an option to keep it at the top, but greatly reduce the size:

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We will also be coming out with a second template option that will have a full-width image rather than the Facebook-like 1200 pixel width image.

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That will also have a new mobile look with the image overing the whole page on initial load:

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Lots more changes coming like improved table layouts, simplified long pages in the race director dashboard like Customer Questions or Add-Ons. As well as some surprises as we start to roll out the new RD Scoring and Promotion Dashboards.

Registration Market Analysis – April 2017

We did the first Market Analysis last September, and a second one in March and the third one ins September, 2016. We will continue to do this every 6 months and try to make it better with your feedback (so feel free to send suggestions or corrections to bob.bickel at runsignup.com). We do this as part of our own internal market evaluation processes, but share it since there does not seem to be a good source of information like this. In 2015, we also added our thoughts on Race Registration Market Trends and Race Registration Company Valuations (so it might be time for an update!). We did add a new section this year based on which vendors have the 100 largest festivals as measured by timed finishers by Running USA.

It is tough to estimate market share since there is no one place that has ALL races, and races are open for only part of a year, and different vendors have different search tools for finding races, so we took several approaches to looking at things.

RunSignUp Numbers
RunSignUp has been very public about sharing our numbers. You can read our Year End Report for 2016 to see that we had over 14,000 races use us to process 4.2 Million paid registrations in 2016. The trend continues positively (see our Q1 2017 Review) – and we are estimating over 16,000 races processing registrations on RunSignUp and 4.3 Million paid (not including imported) registrations in 2017.

RunningintheUSA CalendarRunningintheUSA Market Share
RunningintheUSA.com is the largest calendar of race sites in the US with 48,633 races listed. They use Active.com’s, RunSignUp’s, and Race Entry’s automated API to load races from each of us – that is why you see the little logos for each of us on the calendar. This probably means that we are unfairly represented as they do not get every race from every other of the 100+ registration providers in the market. Note they also remove non-pure running events.

We do a sample every 6 month and do a count of the total races for each vendor:

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We increased the sample size this time from 500 to 1,000 races to increase accuracy of this estimate.

RunSignUp will be used by over 16,000 races this year for processing their registrations, which is 33% of the races in RunningintheUSA, so those numbers are probably fairly accurate for RunSignUp.

May Market Share
There are over 100 registration systems, and not all of them have race listings. For example we could not find a list of Chronotrack Live races, but know from their public statements that they processed over 1 million registrations in the first half of last year. Likewise, IMAthlete is much stronger than this list shows because of a number of large events they provide registration for like the LA Marathon and Gasparilla Distance Classic. In addition, the search tools may include non-endurance race events in some cases (for example Events.com mixes a lot of different types of events and there is no advanced search filter). And search methods change from period to period – for example RaceIt introduced a much better race search, which allowed for a better count of races on RaceIt, although RaceRoster and Running Guru took away the ability to do a count from search. Active changed their search criteria as well so it is difficult to get an exact count of races in the US, so we have eliminated them from the current report.  And final caveat to this data is that some race calendars may include races that do not have registration on their sites (the RunSignUp data is accurate since we have a search flag internally we can use to look for races that are open for registration on RunSignUp).

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Alexa Rankings
Alexa is a cool tool that shows the ranking of websites based on page views. It is approximate, but is fairly accurate. As above, there are lots of caveats to this. For example not all registrations may come to that site – for example we think RaceIt is still the registration platform for RocknRoll races, but those are probably not processed on the RaceIt.com website. Also note that EventBrite, Active and Events.com all are covering much more than the endurance market and their numbers are inclusive of those other markets.

Anyway, these rankings among all US websites are from April 5 and will change. The % change is from the Spring of last year.

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To put some context on these numbers, RunSignUp is doing about 10 Million Page Views per month now to get in the Top 6,000 sites.  Active has recently added a line in their press releases saying they get 50 Million views per month to get to the 1,815th place.  In March last year, we were doing the same page views to rank about 4,800 – so the volume to achieve a ranking is getting larger.

The big change this year is that the scale from Alexa may have changed. Alexa generally uses the past 3 months of data and our page views are up 2% over last year. Perhaps Alexa is measuring more mobile apps and there are simply more sites stuffed into those with more than RunSignUp’s 28 Million Page Views in Q1.

Largest Races

We are adding an analysis of the Top 100 festivals of 2016 as reported by Running USA. This table shows the total # of registrations for each vendor as well as the # of races that are represented. We broke out Rock and Roll (RaceIt) and Disney (Active) and Chronotrack Live (CTL) is owned by Lifetime Fitness (LTF) since they have such a large volume, so to get the total for those vendors, add the two numbers together.

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So What Does This Mean?

Our objective in doing this was trying to understand how far we had gotten with our growth. We are guessing that we are at about 11% market share with our 4.2 M paid registrations in 2016 – assuming there are about 40 Million Paid Registrations in the US.

We are really proud of the impact we are having on the endurance and race market. Especially since RunSignUp is a lot more than registration, as we have a number of other offerings.  The Race Director helps Timers score and provide results for over 11,000,000 participants annually. RD Go, our Cloud based Scoring and Results system used by Timers and Races hosts results for over 5,000 races and sends tens of thousands of result notifications each weekend. RaceJoy is by far the leading race GPS Tracking solution in the market. RunSignUp for Clubs is used by hundreds of clubs to help with membership management and tie to races. Our Promotional Tools help races with growing their races with tools like free Email Marketing, Referral Rewards, Facebook and Social integration, integrated Google Analytics and ad tracking and more. And our free services like Sponsor Management, Volunteer Management, Check-In App, Race Calendar Widgets are used by many races beyond those who do registration with us.

Thank you to all of our customers who provide us great feedback on what is needed in this market, and who tell their friends about us!

RunSignUp Q1 Results

RunSignUpLogoWe wanted to provide an update on how things are going with RunSignUp prior to our biannual Endurance Registration Report in early April. The good news is that more races, timing companies, running stores and runners continue to recommend us. One of our key stats we follow is the number of races that process more than 3 transactions with us. Our numbers were great for Q1 with 22% growth (on a very large number of races!):

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Our bottom line has also faired well, with increased gross margin and lower legal fees resulting in a very solid Q1. We are using this positive momentum to continue to invest – we are adding a new User Interface Developer on April 3 and a new Developer in June to continue to accelerate our technology roadmap.

This growth is impressive given what you may have heard from one of our competitors after 1N3/URun settled their lawsuit with Active in December. 1N3 was our largest customer last year, and their largest quarter is Q1 (a large % of their registrations were in Q1 last year), so it has an impact on our numbers especially in Q1.

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The loss of 1N3 impacts our registration count, but financially, we are actually ahead of last year. Gross Profit is how we pay our people and Amazon costs and we are up since 1N3 had a higher discount than the many smaller races that replaced that volume. More importantly, we spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees supporting 1n3 last year – and that cost is gone. So our net profit is looking very healthy, which is allowing us to do some expansion of our development team. In addition, the 1N3 races had a high amount of customer support with above average chargebacks and end customer requests. This means we have fewer customer service issues to deal with and more time to improve the core offering.

We have also recently received some great news that both the Napa Marathon and the Philadelphia Marathon have selected us as their race management platform. In addition, RaceJoy has been selected by a number of large marathons this year including Pittsburgh, Flying Pig, Ogden, Colfax and Philadelphia. Our mission of bringing advanced technology to the endurance industry continues to accelerate!

PaddleSignUp and AdventureSignUp

AdventureSignUpPaddleSignUpNEW

Along with the recently released BikeSignUp, TriSignUp and SkiSignUp, we now offer PaddleSignUp.com and AdventureSignUp.com branding for paddle sport and adventure customers who want their signup to be specific to their type of event. Like with BikeSignUp, all races are listed on each iteration of the site (BikeSignUp, RunSignUp, TriSignUp, AdventureSignUp, PaddleSignUp and SkiSignUp), and race directors can access all of their races from any dashboard. However, events that share the PaddleSignup.com or AdventureSignUp.com version of their URL will display the particular logo in the header image. For example, a Paddleboard race would direct participants to PaddleSignUp.com/TheBigPaddle.com.

The standard RunSignUp logo is replaced with the PaddleSignUp logo for each race using the root URL:

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Help Wanted – UI Developer

Update – This position has been filled.

Help WantedWe are looking for a full time UI developer in the Philadelphia area to join our team and help create our next generation platform for the endurance industry.

The ideal candidate will be someone who loves UI Design AND loves to Code and produce software that is used by millions of people who are running races and those people who help organize and time tens of thousands of events, in addition to helping running clubs and running stores. You will be working alongside some other very talented developers. We are not looking for someone who only does design or does not code.

The ideal candidate will be someone who can take full responsibility for the front end of RunSignUp. To do this, you will need to be able to produce good design, but also dig into the code and produce HTML, CSS, Less and Javascript. You will be working with a large system that needs a major overhaul of the UI. You will be working in a combination of a PHP web app with a MVC architecture based on Smarty Templates as well as React and new architectures like AWS Lambda for newer parts of the system.

There are several large projects that we will want you to take responsibility of:

  • Create several optional templates for customer Race Websites (right now we have one, and we want to offer customers several to choose from).
  • Target specific high use parts of the Race Director Dashboard to ease use. As we and our customers have grown, some of our original UI Design templates have been outgrown.
  • Help with design of the new RaceDay Scoring and Results platform we are building.
  • Help with design of the new Promotions Dashboard to help races manage all of their Promotional needs.
  • “Own” the look and feel evolution of our platform so other developers can use your style guides.

We are a very fast moving team, where we give broad responsibility to developers to get projects done by breaking them into small tasks with frequent releases. We also dedicate 20% of our time to making small incremental improvements that might only take an hour or two to complete that we receive from customers. Last year we made over 2,000 deployments – so we are strong supporters of Continuous Deployment.

We also highly value technology and understand it is the very core of what we offer our customers. We believe having a few of the very best developers is much better than having huge teams.

We are looking for someone who fits our culture.  Our guiding principles are to have equal parts of Work, Learn, Fun, and Team.  We believe that customers, employees and owners all share equally in the responsibility and success of the company.  This is covered in more detail in our About link below.  Please review our material to make sure this is the right type of place for you, such as:

Some of the key attributes we are looking for (we will look for the best mix):

  • Exceptional UI Design and Development skills
  • Ability to code and deliver your own projects in such a way they work with the entire system and other development projects (we do not have large teams working on each project – we break things into small projects)
  • Ability to listen to what customers need and provide solutions based on their needs
  • Running/endurance sports roots and enthusiasm for active lifestyle
  • High energy, hands-on, ability to complete full lifecycle development
  • Gets stuff done rather than just talk about stuff
  • Attention to detail and ability to complete tasks in a high volume environment
  • Thirst for learning
  • Team player who acts with personal integrity and treats others with respect

The very competitive salary is depending on experience and current compensation.  In addition, the company has a generous profit sharing plan that funds bonuses for all of our employees.  Health insurance is 100% company paid and includes a $2,000 HSA contribution by the company.  The company also has a Simple IRA and matches up to 3% of an employee’s salary as a matching contribution.

If you think you can help and want to join our dynamic, fun, growing company please send a resume to bob.bickel at runsignup.com.

Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions for Race Directors using RunSignUp

2017Instead of losing 10 pounds and gaining it back by April, how about making a New Year’s Resolution to improve your race using some ideas you may not have tried before in RunSignUp:

More Participants

  1. screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-3-15-36-pmReferral Rewards. Give your participants a reason to get their friends to come to your race – CA$H! On average, Referral Rewards generates about 7% of registrations for races that turn is on – and over 10-15% for races who promote it well and give decent rewards. The best idea we’ve heard of is to give a $25 refund to participants who get at least 5 of their friends to signup for your race. Watch the video on how to set this up.
  2. 1Social Sharing. Another way to get viral marketing working for your race is to make sure you have set up the Social Sharing features for your race. This makes sure that participants can easily and effectively share their pride in registering for your race with their friends.
  3. Repeat Participants. There is a saying in marketing that it is cheaper to keep a customer than find a new customer. The modern language is lowering your “Churn” and improving the “Lifetime Value of a Customer”. Come up with a way to reward repeat participants. Have a special opening for them. Send them a special coupon to register. Have a formal Loyalty program. Use our EMail Marketing to target previous participants easily. Use your creativity – we have a ton of tools to help!
  4. email-imageAutomated Emails. Set this up once and forget about it! There are two in particular – Price Increase Emails go out to previous participants automatically before any price increase. Incomplete Registration EMails also target people who come to your race website but do not complete registration.
  5. Better Race Website. The free RunSignUp Race Website gives you a ton of options for standing out. Take advantages of breaking your long Race Info page into Menu items. Upload your own custom Header and Logo. Take some time and review our HowTo Videos on setting up your Free Race Website, or watch this video for an overview:

donationsgraphicFundraising

  1. Let donors pay the processing fee. Some charities pay the low RunSignUp 4% processing fee themselves, but you should at least give donors the ability to pay that fee themselves. This makes sure donations are maximized and donors feel even more committed.
  2. screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-3-42-00-pmMake Fundraising Fun! Reward your fundraisers with cool badges. Or make it more tangible and give them free entries or refunds if they reach certain goals. Or use top fundraiser reporting tools to give them actual gifts. Make Fundraising Teams easy to join and promote.

Better Race Day

  1. screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-4-05-10-pmFree Photos! Yes, 2017 is the time to embrace photos and make them as much a part of your race as Results. Either hire a professional photographer or get a couple of volunteers to take a ton of pictures to load up to RunSignUp’s RaceDay Photo system. If your timer uploads results and bibs, our system will auto-tag photos so runners can find themselves and their friends. Earn money by allowing sponsors to have their logos on the photos.
  2. Leave Registration Open. If you are closing registration before the gun goes off for your race, you are losing participants. More and more people are registering closer and close to the race – with many happening on race day. Leaving registration open allows runners to signup on their mobile phones on the way tot he race. Or having our SignUp Kiosk with swipers can help reduce race day lines (along with our RaceDay Check-In App).
  3. RaceJoy GPS Tracking and Race Management. For races 10K and up, RaceJoy is the way to make your race as cool as the major marathons. Give friends and family a way to track participants in real-time on a map, send them cheers and make it easy to meet-up afterwards.

Hopefully some of these ideas will make your 2017 race the best ever!