Agile Startups, Football Reps, and Social Media Management- the Latest 1 Million Cups Rochester

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Yesterday the latest installment of 1 Million Cups Rochester took place, featuring the rapidly growing Rochester tech startup GoRout and the emerging Twin Cities software company EverGreen.

 

GoRout

GoRout is an “on-field, visual communications platform for high school college, NFL, and CFL football programs.”

“Football,” explained GoRout Founder and CEO Mike Rolih, “is all about imagery.” In a sport dominated by chalk talks, diagrams, and film footage, the current communication methods used in football, Rolih said, are outdated and inefficient.

To communicate the next play during practice, coaches currently call their players off the line of scrimmage, talk through the upcoming play using a diagram on paper, and then send the players back out onto the field.

Rolih said this method uses up valuable practice time and does not speak the language of today’s generation of football players, “most of which have never lived their lives a single day without the iPod or the iPhone being in existence.”

Instead, GoRout has perfected football practice with their line of visual communication products. Their first product, Vue, displays play cards visually on a small screen that straps around players’ forearms and instantly communicates plays without the player ever leaving the field. GoRout’s newest product, Vue-Up, utilizes the same technology to display the next play across the visor of players’ helmets.

Using this technology, teams can run 45-55 reps in ten minutes, compared to 10-12 plays in that same amount of time without the GoRout products.

GoRout also developed their own private wireless network, covering all forty-eight lower U.S. states and half of Canada, that sends plays from the coaches to the players on the field in under one second.

All GoRout hardware is designed in Rochester. The tech startup provides their software to football teams for free and sells teams bandwidth on their private network. Rolih says GoRout is “pretty solid” now in both software and hardware development; their network has not dropped a single play since May.

GoRout has achieved much success. Rolih said their biggest problem now is dealing with the growth of the business.

“We’re transitioning from being a startup to [being] an early stage company. And with that comes a significant amount of learning pains and growth pains,” he explained.

Although the startup must expand, Rolih said he wants to keep the home office as small as possible. He expects the Rochester team to grow from seven to twenty-five people by the end of next year.

For himself and other startups in this city, Rolih asked Rochester entrepreneurs to start talking.

“We need to amplify stories about entrepreneurism here in Rochester, because there’s a significant group of people that expect everything in town to be run by one entity,” he said. “We have the opportunity to be more than just one thing in Rochester. And it’s really important that we find ways to do that.”

EverGreen

EverGreen is a social media automation tool for small to medium-sized businesses that lack the “time, resources, expertise, or budget to really run their own social media.” This emerging software startup was developed by accident, explained Founder Lou Abramowski.

A few years ago, Abramowski performed an experiment. He kept changing his birthdate on Facebook to the current day to see if he could receive happy birthday messages. He decided to continue this test until the birthday messages were no longer sincere. He expected the replies would continue for a few days. He was shocked when they went on for several weeks; he even received some from the same people more than once.

He deconstructed this experiment to determine why the messages continued for so long and boiled it down to one thing: “evergreen” content. “Evergreen,” Abramowski explained, is material that does not expire and is not relevant to the date, time, or current events. It’s something that’s educational, inspirational, or entertaining as opposed to content tied to a specific event, such as a Labor Day post, for example.

Since the beginning of social media marketing, Abramowski said people hesitated to reuse content or thought it should be “single serving,” or tailored to a very specific audience. Instead, he experimented with the exact opposite, even going so far as posting the same photo of a bunny wearing a backpack on Facebook every single day.

He began building up a library of this “evergreen” social media content on his computer desktop. Eventually, he designed software that would pull the content out of these libraries and randomly publish them on social media accounts whenever he did not publish content or have it scheduled on typical social media management platforms like Buffer or HootSuite.

Eventually, word spread and people asked to license his software.

Today, EverGreen publishes between 20-30K posts each day and manages a few thousand Facebook pages. Abramowski says fifty percent of his customers are solopreneurs. Another twenty-five percent are small businesses that cannot pay for a full time social media manager. The remaining twenty-five percent are larger agencies.

 

1 Million Cups Rochester

1 Million Cups is a free, national education program that takes place in over 133 different communities across the United States to support entrepreneurship. 1 Million Cups Rochester occurs on the first Wednesday of every month at 9AM at the Bleu Duck Kitchen. The next 1 Million Cups Rochester will be held Wednesday October 4th.