Welcome Jeff Kohart – New Developer

unnamedWe would like to welcome Jeff Kohart (about a month late) to RunSignUp. He was an intern with us last summer and has since graduated with a Computer Science degree from Gettysburg.

He is happy to be returning to work in Moorestown, NJ (the central office for RunSignUp) where he grew up.  While at Gettysburg he was heavily involved in campus radio, Ultimate Frisbee, and Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity.

Between last summer and the last month, he has made contributions to various parts of the site, including volunteer management and the Promotion Dashboard.

He ran cross-country at Moorestown High School under the stern tutelage of Bob Bickel and he still runs casually as a source of relaxation.  When he isn’t enjoying a good movie or book, he is looking for new music to rock out to, as well as trying to wow and amaze the other members of the RunSignUp team with obscure pop culture facts.

RunSignUp Q2 Results

lifecycle0220We’ve started to provide an update on how things are going with RunSignUp (Q1 and 2016). 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 Q2 with 19% growth (on a very large number of races!):

Screen Shot 2017-07-03 at 2.07.42 PM

Our bottom line has also faired well, with increased gross profit and lower legal fees resulting in a very solid Q2. We are using this positive momentum to continue to invest – we have added a new User Interface Developer on April 3 and Jeff Kohart (our summer intern last year) joined us full time in June to continue to accelerate our technology roadmap.

This growth is impressive despite what you may have heard from one of our competitors even after 1N3/URun settled their lawsuit with Active in December. 1N3 was our largest customer last year, so it had an impact on our numbers especially, in Q1 and less so as the year goes on.

Screen Shot 2017-07-03 at 2.19.00 PM

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 for the year we are up. Because of their volume, 1N3 had a higher discount than many smaller races. We have been successful this year replacing their lost volume with more profitable races. 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 including above average chargebacks and participant support requests. This means we have fewer customer service issues to deal with and more time to improve the core offering.

One of the most interesting things to note is the growth of Pageviews. This is being driven by more and more races posting Results, but much of the growth is coming from Photos. And the amazing thing is only about 1% of races have started using the free photo platform – so there is a HUGE amount of Pageview growth that will be coming. This has great implications for races with Sponsors.

We will be sharing more information and stats at the RunSignUp Symposium in a couple of weeks! We will also be sharing our technology roadmap, highlighted by:

Hope you can make it!

Non-Exclusive Contracts

contractOne of the first decisions we made at RunSignUp was to have a non-exclusive contract. This meant we were not locking customers into using just RunSignUp, and gave them the right to use any platform(s) they wanted to help their race. We did this for two reasons:

  1. We do not want the burden of an unhappy customer.
  2. Modern cloud services change fast, and customers demand the right to move to serve their best interests.

Seven years later, we are surprised to see the number of races who still enter into exclusive contracts for the long term for several reasons:

  • The norm for contracts today is non-exclusive and by the month
  • Races have a lot of power to require contract terms with so many vendors (hint – just suggest that your race is looking at RunSignUp and see what the registration provider will offer! Seriously, we are not offended if you use our name to get some great discounts or contract modifications.)
  • The cost of registration software is actually pretty low, and the savings are a small part of an overall race budget, especially compared with how much good technology can impact the Promotion -> Registration -> Fundraising -> Race Day Experience lifecycle of your race.
  • The pace of technology change can render a vendor obsolete if they are not investing in their infrastructure and new features.

As a race, you may want to consider our first reason for not wanting exclusive contracts. Life is too short to be stuck with underpowered technology, poor support, or a bad relationship.

P.S. And make sure you look out for those auto-renewal terms 🙂

User Experience Manifesto

Our Commitment: RunSignUp will not only have the most feature rich race management platform, we will also have the leading user experience for participants, race directors, race management companies and timers by the end of 2017, and will continually improve the user experience into the future. Our goal is to create easy to use technology that makes a difference to our customer’s business and participant experiences, and make that pleasurable.

It has been over 3 years since we refreshed our Race Director Dashboard and 2 years since we refreshed our free Race Website user interface. During that time, we have been focused on building out the complete Race Management Platform from a functional perspective from Promotion (free tightly integrated email marketing, Referral Rewards, Social Sharing, etc.), to Registration innovations (1-Click Registration, Participant Management, Reporting, Daily Payment, PCI Compliance, free Sponsor Platform, free Volunteer Platform, etc.), to Fundraising (with fully integrated fundraising, multiple charity management and payment, outside fundraiser integration, etc.) to Race Day (acquisitions and integration of The Race Director and RaceJoy, Kiosk apps from SignUp and CheckIn and Results, a free Photo Platform and more).  And of course our normal 2,000 “little” changes each year.

This was a strategic decision where we saw so many opportunities to improve the status quo and have an impact we needed to put our resources there. With the recent hiring of Jeff Kiesel, our UI Lead, and additional developers joining us next month we are expanding our resources and our focus and expertise to improve the User Experience.

We are now turning our attention to a major push over the next 6-12 months to do major updates to the User Experience. With all of the functionality we have released, we now want to put that in context to make it simpler for races to absorb and give participants a better race experience.

We will be pursing improvements across our platform that will roll out incrementally.  In the beginning they will be smaller improvements, such as our planned roll out for a new Results table. Here is a wireframe of the first version of it:


This first version cleans up the interface, and improves usability. The second release we have planned incorporates fun elements like photos and profile pictures while also providing further clean-up like minimizing the race website menu, repositioning sponsor logos and other elements:

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We will be rolling out the following major improvements over the course of this year:

Promotion Dashboard and Analytics. New graphics to show you not only how your race is doing in terms of registrations, but also where those registrations are coming from so you can focus your promotional efforts and know what is paying off and what is not.

New Race Website Template. We will be giving you a second choice to the existing race website template. While the current version has served well and has demonstrated great conversions and broad appeal because of the Facebook-like style, the new template will introduce a number of modern elements to keep your race on the cutting edge.

Results Table, Individual Results Page and Profile Page. In addition to the new overall results look and feel, we will also be providing a new look when a runner drills down on their own performance. The design will be like a custom website for the runner at that race, with fully integrated chip and GPS results, photos, videos, and historical performance. Returning participants will not only be able to see past year performances, you will be able to reward them with badges for multi-year participation. And of course perfect for sharing on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. This concept will also be migrated over into the Profile page, where it will be a much richer experience for runners, with simpler access to participant management features.

Participant Relationship Management (PRM). With the improvement in Profile information to the participant, we will also be upgrading our great Participant Management features to a fuller Participant Relationship Management (PRM) approach. CRM systems like Salesforce do not meet the needs of races and participants – PRM provides not only repeat participation types of reports but also integrates tightly with our new Analytics engine, Email Marketing Engine and leverages assets like result data and race photos. This will allow races to use PRM to market their unique Experiences.

Race Director Dashboard Phase 1. We will be enhancing the existing dashboard incrementally by redesigning the header to provide more value and “at a glance” information. We will also be improving the functionality and visibility of My Race List, in addition to the new Promotional Dashboard being elevated to the new race dashboard “homepage”.

Race Director Dashboard Phase 2. A complete redesign and rationalization of the race dashboard. It will center around two elements.  First, that we are a platform with solutions in Promotion, Registration, Fundraising and Race Day.  Second, we will be centering more around common task areas – for example PRM or Reporting or Financial or Promotional. We will also be creating a Simple version, where the basics are shown. Race Directors will be able to discover more, and we will detect which features have been added so those show up on the Simple version incrementally.

Partner Dashboard. This will receive many of the improvements mentioned in the Race Director Dashboard Phase 1 as well as the Promotion Dashboard. This will provide race management companies with the tools and visibility they need to maximize their businesses.

Timer Dashboard. We will be introducing a new Timer Dashboard that will be working with the Race Day Scoring and The Race Director offerings. In addition, it will give the timer calendar management tools similar to what we offer with Sponsors – enabling them to keep track of customers, do automated renewals, mark commitment level, mark paid, send and collect invoices, etc.

In summary, we are shifting more of our resources to giving users of all kinds an experience that can make a difference.


Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 3.05.53 PM.pngRacepass recently launched. They received some initial press (although Competitor.com took down their article) and that has elicited some concerns from some of the race directors who use RunSignUp. This blog will hopefully clear up any confusion and let you know your options.

UPDATE (5/13/2017): We have requested Racepass to take off any races that they have copied from our API off of their website and to seek permission directly from races until they have cleaned up a number of their operational issues. We are suggesting an opt-in process for races until they incorporate technology to have the participant sign waivers directly, but we will see how they respond.

UPDATE (5/12/2017): This from Chase Rigby of Racepass:

-The coverage has been overwhelming, we have had hundreds of runners signing up every day and more and more outlets are covering it. Runner’s World hasn’t pulled the article, we just did another interview with them today because it’s been so noisy so they are publishing another soon.
-We are working hard on building out race director tools so that you can have access to runners data, emails, make bib transfers, special questions, donations, photos, etc. Those will roll out over the next months.
-We’re constantly fixing the data (one of the messiest and hardest pieces) so that we won’t have duplicate listings (the Scott Coffee Run came directly from RunSignUp API, we just parsed it wrong, our bad) and eventually race directors will be able to own, edit and update their content because after all it is theirs and we only want to present it to the runner in the best way possible.

What is Racepass?

Racepass allows a runner to buy a yearly pass that then allows them to sign up for some number of races:

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 3.06.14 PM.png

How does it work?

A runner registers for a Racepass and enters details like their date of birth, shirt size and emergency contact info. They see a list of races around where they are located, pick a race and signup with one click. Today Racepass manually takes that and goes to the registration provider and uses their own credit card to sign up for the race, entering the information of the runner. I (Bob) tried this yesterday, registering on Racepass around 8:30 AM and getting my confirmation (from RunSignUp) around 3:00PM.

Why this might be good

Making signup simple is good.  If a race has multiple places where people can find them, they might get more participants.

Concerns for Race Directors Today

I have talked with Racepass and they assure me they are working on a tighter connection with the RunSignUp API for a more integrated experience. Until that happens, there are a number of concerns.

One primary concern for races is the fact the participant does not sign the waiver, and there is no smooth way to find the participants who have been entered by Racepass. If there is data required beyond shirt and emergency contact, that is not collected – think custom questions or USAT membership number, etc.

Races also miss out on getting to interact directly with participants. This takes the form of not being able to ask for a donation, or join a fundraiser, buy an add-on, the inability to create or join a team, inability to collect phone numbers for results txt notifications, missing page views for Sponsor logos, and so forth.

Participants also are not creating an account, so there is no ability to have self-serve participant management like transferring events or exchanging bibs.

Another concern that I saw for the race I help with, Scott Coffee Run, is they had it listed 4 times. I think this is because we have 4 Events, yet there is no differentiation between those 4 events on the Racepass website – so I have no idea if I am signing up for the 8K or the 1Mile.

Do you want Racepass for your race?

Racepass has gone to a couple of registration sites, like RunSignUp, and duplicated the race info on their site. RunSignUp has no way to control this, and some races may want to have the potential of extra registrations.

Therefore, if you want your race taken off of RacePass, please contact them directly at support@racepass.com.

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.

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 8.16.26 AM

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:


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


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.


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


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.