Program Report: Zach Maurides of Teamworks

Former volleyball player and the COO of Durham Magazine. Rotarian Rory Gillis introduced Zach Maurides, an entrepreneur and former Duke offensive lineman, who founded Teamworks, a time management app specifically designed for athletic teams.

In my extensive research I’ve concluded that most of the time you’ll find that the smartest guy on the team is an offensive lineman like Zach.

When Zach put up a slide with the logos of some of the 2000 customers, my eyes went right to the middle of it and landed on the Notre Dame logo, the school where I was an offensive lineman…when I wasn’t a blocking dummy or just being beat up as the smallest defensive lineman on the prep squad.

In those years I watched an interim coach win only two games my freshman year and a new coach, Ara Parseghian, miss a National Championship the following year by one bad quarter against Southern Cal but later winning his first National Championship in 1966. What Ara brought was organization. It was like going from the chaos of a “rave” in an old warehouse to a ballet in the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

As Zach zipped through his presentation, he made me wonder how we did it. But today’s football world is much different and makes my years seem a little quaint. There were no strength coaches, speed coaches, dieticians, physical therapists or sports psychologists and the training staff was one grumpy old guy and a couple of the managers he had taught to tape ankles. Throw in compliance guys and a tutoring staff and you get a better sense of the athlete of today must deal with.

In my day, If somebody mentioned an app, you would assume they meant the college application you didn’t have to fill out if you had a scholarship offer. (Strangely, Duke was the exception to this norm.) A bulletin board and post training-table meetings were our primary means of communication.

But for today’s busy athlete, time management is a key. Zach described his own time management problems as a freshman and how he developed great aerobic conditioning beyond what an offensive lineman needs doing penalty trips for being late, up and down the stadium steps at 4:30 in the morning. (4:30? Really?)

Then in his sophomore year for a class he was taking, he built the first version of a software program to keep athletes organized. The rest, as they say, is history. Zach’s presentation zipped through Duke adopting it and the story of his dad suggesting that if he had solved a problem at Duke there were other schools that probably needed it too. He mentioned his time at SciQuest, another local software company, and leaving it to jump full time into building his own company, Teamworks, right at the beginning of the recession. When they met all their targets after the first round of financing, venture capitalists where lined up begging to provide the second round.

And now among all those college programs and many sports, amateur and professional, there are other sports organizations.  He got a big cheer too mentioning the that US World Cup Women Soccer Champions are among their customers. So do we have Just another very impressive Durham success story with 100+ employees in renovated buildings in Downtown?

Maybe, there is a mission here too.  Zach wrapped up with a passionate defense of the importance of athletics. He had lots of statistics about how many leaders and successful people had participated in organized sports in high school or college.  The fact that Title IX broadened the opportunities for women could have something to do with their growing success in business and politics. Despite all we hear about the undue influence of big-time sports on college campuses, the case is there, that when done right, sports are a big and important part of the education of many successful people. I’m proud to say, that I think the two schools that do it best are Duke and Notre Dame. For decades they have both been at the top of the list for graduating their athletes and playing by the rules.

And in Zach Maurides we have a example, that helps prove my conclusion that an offensive lineman is always one of the smartest guys on any football team and they often go on to form teams outside the world of sports.  More about Zach’s current team can be found at www.teamworks.com.

Submitted by Jay Zenner

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