Another great year! Lots of happy customers. Lots of great technology released. Lots more registrations. Zero Downtime. As we complete our 7th trip around the sun, here are the yearly totals for paid registrations:
The basics of our business are to collect registration fees from participants and pass that along to races. For the first year, we earned a perfect record on both:
- 100% Uptime! Yes, we had ZERO downtime in 2016. Not even any planned downtime. Some participants may have seen momentary delays during deployments of database changes, but this was very minimal and typically less than 1 minute and did not cause them to restart a registration process.
- 100% Payment on Time! Yes, every payment due – whether our customers selected Daily, Weekly or Monthly payment was delivered on time. As we covered earlier this year, this is important.
This, along with all of the advances chronicled below has meant that more and more customers recommend us to others, and we have advanced to a leadership position in the industry according to our Registration Market Survey.
Earning Our Money
So we have the basics covered. But we charge a processing fee (which includes all credit card fees and handling things like refunds and chargebacks automatically). One of our ambitions has been to build enough technology that RunSignup is essentially free, and we think we did it this year.
The key feature we added was Refund Rewards. This was a clever extension of our referral tracking mechanism combined with our payment system capability to do a free refund in an automated way. So a race can set their own parameters – like “Get 5 friends to sign up and get your Registration Fee Refunded!”. The return is amazing for races:
That is a Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) of 4,200%. Overall, races are seeing an impact of 7% of their registrations coming from referrals (vs. 1% before we enabled auto-refunds), with aggressive races getting 13-17%. That 6% impact overall exactly matches our processing fee for transactions over $50. So you can now say that RunSignup is indeed free!
As our good friend Sacha Labourey says, “Software is Eating the World“. Thomas Friedman has similar thoughts about the rate of change of technology. The challenge that most people and companies have in the Endurance space is that they can not afford the time or talent to develop great software. And that is where RunSignup comes in.
We have a simple and pure business model – we make cloud and mobile software in an open, plug-and-play manner that races, clubs, running stores, timers, and fundraising for races, walks and rides can use to improve the entire lifecycle:
Our technology platform offers a single database, or tight API connections with other tools, that provide a very integrated platform. This makes it simple to promote your race to participants, offer special incentives, raise money and deliver an awesome race day experience with photos, real-time result notifications and GPS tracking. And you can start with the tools that you need most and expand in whatever fashion you want with our integrated system.
We made major progress in advancing in all of these areas with over 2,300 deployments of RunSignup (that means new versions). We use a process called Continuous Improvement where we release many small, incremental changes rather than huge changes. It is one of our core values and assets that assures our customers that we will keep getting better and do our best to take advantage of the rapid change rate of technology.
Here are some of the major projects we worked on:
PCI Level 1 Compliance and Certification
PCI Level 1 is the highest level the credit card industry has set for security and processing requirements. It required us to hire an audit firm to do on site reviews and validations of our processes and technology, and then do third party aggressive penetration and security testing. In addition to paying this vendor about $50,000 to certify us, we spent more of our own development time on this project than any other this year. To be honest, much of it was busy work with hundreds of pages of documents created, and many security procedures implemented more for the Mainframe era of computing rather than the Cloud era. On the other hand, we instituted formal mechanisms to do things like 100% of our code now being reviewed by others and regular monthly security updates to our infrastructure that are useful as we grow.
As part of the audit we also improved our overall infrastructure and have new systems that continuously monitor for security. We use OSSEC to watch our entire infrastructure, actively monitoring all aspects of Unix system activity with file integrity monitoring, log monitoring, rootcheck, and process monitoring.We also implemented a Nessus server to continuously scan for vulnerabilities.
We also made major upgrades to our infrastructure. While there are always risks of unavailability and we can not promise 100% availability, some of the changes we made this year to improve availability helped us avoid downtime, and vastly improved our disaster backup and recovery options. We also improved average page load time from over 3 seconds to about 2.62 seconds, which is a major accomplishment given that an increasing number of users are coming from mobile phones which have slower connection times. Response time can cost our customers money, so it is important (A/B tests in Amazon revealed that each 100ms in the time it took to load a page reduced the sales of Amazon by 1%).
Yes, the above two items are kind of boring, but they are the types of things that our customers depend on us doing (and a good reason not to do it themselves!).
The latest release of our Fundraising Platform elevates it to a Tier 1 solution for RunSignup and in the market. We now have a platform that is applicable to the largest fundraising organizations in the US who hold walks, runs and rides to raise significant funds for their charities. With customers like Susan G. Komen and Semper Fi Fund, we are seeing significant and rapid adoption in this area.
Our new Free Photo Platform really changes things for races in 2017. Making photos available for free with cool features like Google Vision auto-tagging and tight integration with Results (and soon Promotion) brings democratization to this technology. Any size race can now hire a photographer and have them simply upload the photos. It also offers a great opportunity for races to sell sponsorships with simple Watermarking on photos. Gone are the days of runners paying $50 for a glossy photo – start social sharing of photos for your race this coming year.
RaceDay SignUp Kiosk App
We introduced a native RaceDay SignUp Kiosk Apple and Android app, with card swipe capability that is being widely adopted as part of timer’s toolsets they bring to races. It reduces time to register, ensures more accurate participant data than trying to read paper applications, and is being well received by participants.
The RaceJoy GPS Tracking application has been getting wide use (up to about 300,000 users this year) by participants and spectators. We recently unveiled RaceJoy Monitoring capability for Race Directors and Timers that allows them to track all runners, free in-app messaging, see off-course alerts, and even replay runner’s routes.
RaceJoy Integrated Chip & GPS Splits and Results
RaceJoy now offers both GPS and Chip splits and results. It automatically syncs all results uploaded to RaceDay Results – this includes scoring results like overall and age group place.
We also released a new native app for doing RaceDay Check-In. It has cool features like barcode or QR code scanning, a “scan and go” fast check-in option, ability to see add-ons, giveaways, etc., and being able to sign waivers with your fingers.
The Race Director
The Race Director continues major updates in the recently released RD 2017, even as we prepare to move toward creating the cloud based RD Go Scoring and Results system. These included the new chip system auto-import and publish capability, integrations with IPICO and Trident’s new UHF systems, Live Cross Country Results and flexible RunSignup Report Templates.
Yes, more of the same! More customers, more technology.
We have evolved from a Registration System to a Race Management Platform that covers the full lifecycle of races. We will be making major improvements in all areas. Of particular interest are several large projects:
Many races earn as much revenue from Sponsors as they do from participants. We will be centralizing our various options to configure and set sponsor visibility into a free new management platform. In addition, we hope to bring you:
- Set Sponsor Levels and Prices
- Set Sponsor Visibility across the various visibility opportunities – Race Website, Emails, TXT Results, RaceJoy, and Photos.
- Automate Sponsor payments with automated Invoicing and Renewals
- Automated Sponsor Reports and Self-Service
- New Sponsor Activation methods like sponsor coupons
RaceDay Go Scoring
This year we will begin to roll out the next generation of Cloud and Mobile based scoring which will work with the PC based Race Director and RunScore systems. We expect simple scoring capabilities this year and an evolution of functionality that will increase over time, like most of our software platform. RD Scoring is bundled in The Race Director pricing.
As we roll out RaceDay Scoring, we will also be producing a new Timer Dashboard which will provide more central management of their races. We aspire to help with the alignment of resources like timing teams, people, and equipment with the scheduling of races. We also plan on offering mechanisms for new types of payment models and facilitation of contracts and payments between races and timers.
We will also be centralizing our Promotional capabilities this year. We have some very aggressive plans in this area with a goal of doing a “Google Analytics for Races”, which will help races understand in detail where their participants are coming from and their return on various different promotional activities. In addition, we will be bringing more automation to promotion like our automated emails and coupons this past year.
User Interface Updates
We also intend to do a number of fairly major User Interface updates this year. We want to offer some additional options for the Race Website template we currently offer. While this design has proven to be very effective in conversions, we understand some races may want other options. We also want to simplify a number of our Race Director Dashboard pages. As we have rapidly added features, there are too many options that can cause confusion for race directors who may only use RunSignup for one small race per year.
And of course the regular 2,000+ small incremental improvements…
We enter 2017 with very strong business momentum. Our financials are very sound. Our employees all received record profit sharing bonuses this year to reward them for the unbelievable jobs they do in making our customers happy.
As the market continues to evolve with a lot of financial deals and acquisitions, we are emerging as a stable port in rough seas. Customers, Partners and Competitors know that we have a very stable business plan (and ZERO interest in selling) and laser focus on providing an open cloud and mobile platform for the endurance industry. This consistency is attracting an increasing number of partners and customers who need the best technology to meet their business needs, and want a vendor-neutral partner who can work across the industry (think Switzerland). And there is growing realization that even large organizations can not afford to develop a quality technology platform and are better focusing their resources on what they do particularly well.
Our team is excited for 2017 – we have customers and partners that support us, and we have a rock solid technology foundation that continues to make our customers successful for their entire race lifecycle, and we are having a blast!