David Chadwick, founder and CEO of RealRecuit and a former collegiate basketball player, is solving a problem that collegiate athletic directors (ADs) struggle with often.
ADs, especially those at larger universities, are essentially responsible for hundreds of student athletes and dozens of coaches. That is a lot of personalities and relationships to supervise, and one ‘bad apple’ can be catastrophic to an athletic program.
As some college sports have become more mainstream, along with social media’s proliferation, news of scandals within collegiate athletics and NCAA investigations is constantly breaking. So, it is in the ADs’ best interest to be aware of incidents in real-time to mitigate a situation immediately — before it grows into a larger public scandal.
This is where RealRecruit comes in.
“We [built] a risk-management platform [to] provide institutions a way to capture their student athlete voice and give them the necessary medium to document their actions to ensure future protection,” says Chadwick.
With RealRecruit, ADs can track holistic experiences with head coaches and position coaches, as well as intangibles such as team chemistry, culture, facilities and fan support. Incidents — guns, drugs, harassment, etc. — can be reported through the platform. And all this feedback is anonymous for the student.
The platform is designed not only to help ADs receive a general pulse on a department’s various programs, but also to benchmark student athletes’ experiences against other universities. With this, ADs can grasp competitive advantages and vulnerabilities.
Chadwick is passionate about this area, as his basketball career spanned different schools, coaches and experiences.
He was a nationally recruited basketball player out of Charlotte and started his career at Rice University. There, he had a lackluster athletic experience as the basketball department went under an NCAA investigation. He then transferred to Valparaiso University (Valpo) — a school he twice denied — to finish his basketball career and graduate. This all came after he committed to Washington State as a high school senior — before a coaching change occurred a month before he was supposed to report to school.
He started RealRecruit in 2014 as a grad student at Valpo.
“I was taking a class where I had to come up with an idea, and basically I wanted to come up with something to help others better understand what the student-athlete experience was all about,” says Chadwick.
From there, he conducted a pilot within Valpo.
“[We] got incredible feedback from student athletes,” Chadwick admits. “[The] AD took me aside and said, ‘David, you’re tackling what myself and ADs across the country struggle with, and that’s getting candid, honest, real-time feedback from student athletes.’”
His first year out of college, Chadwick interviewed almost 200 ADs across the country regarding their current methods for gathering student-athlete feedback and gauged their recurring challenges. This research not only validated the issue but also allowed RealRecruit to solve the specific and continual challenges within the market.
Since then, he along with his technical co-founder partnered with Castle Digital Partners, which has allowed him to spend more of his time on sales and marketing. The founders there have experience starting and growing SaaS companies, so they can add value through different capacities.
“They’ve offered much more to me than just product [help],” he says.
RealRecuit has grown quickly since its inception, having now partnered with over 40 colleges across the country including Wake Forest, Texas A&M, Monmouth, Clemson, and Liberty. Today, Chadwick is focused on continuing this growth, “and making sure all of our customers are having outstanding experiences.” He is driven to make something that people love.
His advice to other entrepreneurs is to get to know your customers while you are proving your solution.
“Provide something that people love and will excitedly tell their peers about. Product-market fit is the hardest thing to find, and until you have actual customers that are signing contracts and telling you they want to buy what you have, you don’t know if your [value] proposition is going to change,” Chadwick states.
Also, as an entrepreneur, you must be all-in. He quotes Steve Blank in that, “if you can imagine yourself doing anything else than your startup, you shouldn’t be [pursuing] your startup.”
You can check out RealRecruit on their website. https://www.realrecruit.com/