Photo by Briana Brough/Durham Magazine

Zach Maurides ’07 built his business to solve a problem he experienced while he was at Duke.

Maurides is now the CEO of collaboration platform Teamworks. But at Duke, he was a football player who had trouble with time management.

When he missed team meetings, Maurides was punished by running stadiums.

“I ran a lot of stadiums freshman year,” he said. “I think I broke the record.”

Maurides struggled with keeping track of his schedule because he had to communicate with coaches, trainers, strength coaches and equipment managers who all communicated through different mediums – texts, phone calls, in-person updates or even by putting a schedule in his locker.

During his sophomore year, he used an Information Science and Studies project to begin to solve the problem.

The class was tasked with conceptualizing a product that could help people in their daily lives. Maurides began to build a platform that would allow everyone in athletics to communicate – meaning he’d only have one place to check for appointments and meetings.

Maurides’ dad was a successful entrepreneur and encouraged his son to dig deeper into the problem. After talking to many people on campus, Maurides said, “I realized that my scheduling issues were a symptom of a larger disease of poor communication in the athletics department.”

The athletics department was a series of silos that didn’t communicate with each other. Duke had already bought a collaboration software in an attempt to fix the problem, but the existing software was designed for a professional, sedentary workforce that could be in front of a computer all day.

Maurides calls that realization an “aha moment” and set to work building a platform that could meet the athletic departments’ demand for a platform to use on the go.

Although he thought he’d be a computer science major, he switched to a sociology major for two reasons: so he could learn more about how large groups communicate, and so he’d have more time to work on his business.

The first version of Teamworks went live in 2005, before the first iPhone hit the market. It was a web app with SMS capabilities for communication.

After he graduated in 2007, Maurides went to work for SciQuest, a late-stage software-as-a-service company selling to higher education institutions.

Not only did he gain valuable experience there, but he also built relationships with mentors. He continued to work on Teamworks part-time.

In 2009, Maurides left his job to pursue his company full-time, and by March 2010, his co-founder joined him in a full-time capacity. They had about 15 customers.
Seven years later, Teamworks has more than 1,000 clients, including 800 NCAA Division I programs.

The functionality of the platform has evolved along with rapidly changing technology. With 90 to 95 percent of its customers using Teamworks on mobile, the company now offers in-service messaging that allows users to share files and videos.

“We keep up with changing technology by keeping our finger on the pulse,” Maurides said. “We make sure our solution is keeping up with what people are using, but our mission for more streamlined communication remains the same.”

Messages to team members can be segmented based on position played, academic year or other groups, and messages can be scheduled in advance.

The app also allows for signing and storage of necessary forms, like health records and forms for academic performance.

Teamworks is the collaboration software provider for the NCAA Division I men’s and women’s basketball championships. This allows for teams to register for the tournament through Teamworks and syncs and organizes their practice, media and game schedules.

The company is focused on penetrating more than 75 percent of the market for collegiate and professional sports, which Maurides thinks can be accomplished in 12 to 18 months. The company will then focus on other verticals that they’ve already begun to explore. Any organization with members on the go can benefit from the app, and already retail, fitness and transportation companies are using it.

One of the reasons Teamworks has found such success so far, Maurides said, is because each employee is aligned in the belief that the team can deliver dramatic returns to its clients by providing tools and services that help their existing personnel collaborate more efficiently and effectively.

“To have a successful company, you have to focus on what you’re doing and why,” Maurides said.

To learn more about Teamworks, visit its website.

To read about more Duke Entrepreneurs, click here.