Ep. #1057 - Pickleball and Sports Facility Management
Our Top Kansas City Startups series is almost over. That said, we’re more excited than ever to share this conversation about pickleball and sports facility management with you!
In today’s episode of Startup Hustle, Matt DeCoursey is joined by Luke Wade, founder and CEO of Facility Ally. These founders talk about pickleball as a sport and handling the challenges of managing sporting facilities. Moreover, they also chat about getting funding and conquering every challenge that comes your way.
Have you met all the companies included in our Top Kansas City Startups 2023? Discover the complete list here.
Covered In This Episode
Learn from these successful entrepreneurs how to navigate business challenges along the way. Hear about Luke’s recent $700K preseed round. Also, discover what pickleball is and how to manage sports facilities efficiently.
What are you waiting for? Get all the practical tips in this Startup Hustle episode now.
- Starting pickleball before the pandemic (02:20)
- Luke’s backstory as an entrepreneur (03:19)
- Struggles in building with SaaS model and Full Scale to the rescue (04:57)
- What is pickleball? (05:37)
- Managing sporting facilities all in one place (09:20)
- Challenges in managing facilities (11:09)
- Tears and Bears Club (14:39)
- Timing and the challenges of getting funding for Facility Ally (16:50)
- Things that Luke could get better at (21:13)
- Making a great pitch that gets your investor’s attention (22:38)
- Why Luke wasn’t able to get a successful investment (26:12)
- The benefits of having a niche in your space (28:51)
- What is the hardest part of running a business? (35:16)
- Ease of use of Facility Ally (36:29)
- Toughest challenges to conquer in building a business for 10 years (37:49)
- Make yourself unemployable if you need to (39:54)
There’s no school to go to run a sports facility. There’s no place that you go to run leagues . . . so you just learn from doing it.– Luke Wade
They’re betting on the jockey, not the horse. And so, I think that was pretty clear when several investors were telling me like, we believe in you.– Luke Wade
I have asked a ton of people on and off the show, what made [it win], a jockey or horse? And no one’s ever picked the horse. Because without it, without a good founder or founding team, great ideas are garbage.– Matt DeCoursey
Make business processes more efficient through software and tech. Let Full Scale help you with that! The Inc. 5000 lister has a proprietary platform that automatically matches you with a fully vetted team in just two minutes. Experience the fast lane when recruiting software development teams now.
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Matt DeCoursey 00:00
And we’re back! Back for another episode of Startup Hustle. Matt DeCoursey here to have another conversation I’m hoping helps your business grow. Speaking of growing, have you ever heard of pickleball? I hadn’t a few years ago. Apparently, it’s the fastest-growing sport in America. And with that, you have all of these sports facilities coming up, pickleball facilities. People are nuts about pickleball. So we’re going to talk about that today with one of Kansas City’s top startups. Before I introduce today’s guests, today’s episode of Startup Hustle is powered by FullScale.io. Hiring software developers is difficult, and Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably and has the platform to help you manage that team. Go to FullScale.io to learn more. That is my business if you didn’t know. And we love talking to Startup Hustle listeners. Just head on over to FullScale.io; fill out that form. Seriously, it takes two minutes. We love helping people find solutions. With me today I have Luke Wade, and Luke is the founder and CEO of Facility Ally. You can go to FacilityAlly.com. There, just click that link in the show notes, people. It’s so much easier than trying to spell tough words like facility and man. Anyway, look, you know, you’ve been on the show before. And we have a little bit of an internal connection here because I’m an investor, as well as Full Scale is an investor in your software platform. And we’ve been working on this thing for a long time. So I do want to point out that it had nothing to do with Luke and Facility Ally making our list of Kansas City’s top startups. Fresh funding, fresh support, fresh everything. So, Luke, welcome back.
Luke Wade 01:40
Thank you so much for having me. And, as you said, thanks for the years and years of support. Everybody says, oh, you’re an overnight success. And they just forget about the other five, six years of hustling to do at all. So thanks for having me.
Matt DeCoursey 01:51
Yeah. Well, thanks for being on. And, you know, we’re going to talk about pickleball and out, but, you know, we started this thing about six months before a pandemic.
Luke Wade 02:00
Yeah, we finished it at the worst time to open a facility software platform when no facility was opened or needed software. So I’m talking about a delay. It’s a bit of a rough go there. But everybody kind of went through a rough time there. So we came out thriving, and it’s been an awesome last few years.
Matt DeCoursey 02:17
Yeah, I think that whole thing kind of proved that your business plans are always wrong.
Luke Wade 02:23
Yes. Yep. That was definitely something you can’t predict or put into any sort of forecast or budget at all.
Matt DeCoursey 02:27
Well, you’ve been on the show before and here in Kansas City. That’s our hometown and of Startup Hustle. You have created quite a business around KC crew, which was sports leagues and stuff that led to the need for League management. And then we made some other stuff. And you know, like, I mean, I think the backstory will be a little easier to tell if you are the one to tell it. Yeah, let’s jump right into that.
Luke Wade 02:55
Yeah. So about 10 years ago, I started a softball league for my friends who moved to Kansas City, and I didn’t really know anybody. I was about 27 years old and rented a field, told some friends but a little bit of software to manage registration. And next thing you know, 1000 people sign up three years later, 3000 people. Now we are here 10 years later, and we have over 20,000 people that play all over Kansas City and all of our sports leagues through KC crew, but how do you manage such a thing? It’s extremely difficult to find registration waivers, court field schedules, and standings. I mean, it goes on and on and on and on managing leagues and facilities. And so, with my background in software development, I decided to create something that could help me do that. And here we are. 10 years later, we finally have another business. It’s really taken off and running.
Matt DeCoursey 03:36
Yeah, and you know, the backstory with that, as well, as you know, you had actually become a client of Full Scale. And a few months into that, you know, you and I talking about me being the founder of Gigabook, I was like, you know what, we could clone this and turn it into facility management, it was, it’s not quite that straightforward. There’s a lot to occur to make that happen. But we decided to mush two platforms together and have a two-headed snake. And that got some support and some investors, and then a pandemic hit. And we played. Let’s try to survive. Yep, for a couple of years. But now onward and upward.
Luke Wade 04:17
Yeah, I mean full transparency. You know, I’m a developer myself. And so, when I went to build a solution that was a SaaS model, I really didn’t know what I was doing. And I went through multiple development firms struggling along the way, which is even more frustrating considering I’m a developer. So when I found you guys, it was literally, you know, everybody had met up to that point was like, You got to rebuild the whole thing. You got to rebuild. The whole thing was developer after development company telling me that, and when I met with you guys at Full Scale, it was you have to rebuild this. We can patch it, we can make it better, we can mold it and make it fit and work. And not only did we do that, but we came out with something really great on the other side. So Full Scale has been our team for the last six years. So thank you, 555. There we go. Five years.
Matt DeCoursey 04:56
So that’s about how old the company is. But yeah, it’s been around For a while, so we talked about, let’s kind of shift gears for a second because I got everyone excited about pickleball, and everyone’s playing it like, what is pickleball?
Luke Wade 05:09
Yeah, so pickleball, a lot of people say, is like a hybrid between ping pong and tennis. It’s basically, you know, it’s got a whiffle ball that really is harder with holes and different holes, the shorter court plays, so you can also play skinny singles, but it’s, it’s actually really, really fun. I’m kind of obsessed with it myself nowadays. And what’s cool about it is anybody, any age, any gender, can really play and be good and have fun with other people. And so it started in like the older communities, but now it’s way past that everybody is playing KC crew. As an example, when we first started six years ago with Pickleball, we only had about 60 teams, and in 2021 we had 320 teams, and 2022 we had almost 700 teams just for pickleball, and that’s been a driver of Facility Ally cuz a lot of the pickleball facilities in here you can I don’t know wherever you’re listening I don’t know if Pickleball is popular there it probably is.
Matt DeCoursey 05:54
But there are huge facilities and businesses opening up that are dedicated just to pickleball, so there’s something to it. It’s not going away anytime soon.
Luke Wade 06:15
You know, Gone are the days of going to a bar or restaurant, having dinner and drinking, and watching TV people want to be socially active. They want to be moving around and doing stuff while they’re eating and drinking or have the option to be the active and astute younger generation for a lot of reasons, but yeah, Pickleball is a way to do that. And now, as you said, you have huge facilities and really cool things again. Thank you, Kansas City. Chicken and pickles started here. It’s expanded there in eight different cities, and they’re doubling again this year. You have facilities all over the country, essentially opening restaurants with pickleball courts around them. Well, again, how do you manage all that? How do you program? How do you manage the events and the waivers? It just goes on and on. But at the end of the day, it’s a great option for social fun and healthy fun and which is why our software is here to help you manage that and so that you can stick with the fun and not have to worry about all the bookings and all the nightmares around managing a facility both facility our does more than just pickleball.
Matt DeCoursey 07:02
I mean, any facility can be, and obviously, I’m very aware of its capability because once again, you look at something like Gigabook, which was, you know, I started Gigabook eight years ago, and it hasn’t been the focus of what I’ve done. The Gigabook has always been like, almost like the girlfriend and never the wife. You know, as bad as that might sound, it’s just it’s always been kind of a sidecar. It finally got to sit in the front seat, and then Full Scale started. And you know, next thing you know, we got 300 employees and, with that, it was exciting for me to find more use cases for it. Now, one of the issues that people have with booking is if you have a big facility, it’s like, how do you maximize your space? How do you know Amazon’s changed the world and regards that people expect online solutions like no one wants to call. Hey, do you want to have a cord? Nope. How about four? Well, hang on, let me call on my friends. You know, that was the reason I started getting a book. We did some things well, and we did some things not well. The Gigabook came out right around the same time. Calendly did, and I remember saying, oh, free me. We’re not giving it away for free. That might have been a bad decision. Well, Calendly did later, but the niche that it filled was that it was fully customizable. Now, league ally is, or excuse me, Facility Ally. So league Ally was the league software incorrect. It is funny. We talk about having two different software platforms now and working hard to get them back into one.
Luke Wade 08:40
Yep, yep. Yeah, it would leak out like that because that was the need when I built the KC crew. And I had it, and it was great for five years. But like you said, after I mean, I started working with 50 to 100 different facilities, I’m getting double booked and having to call for fields and court rentals. And it’s just I realized how bad it was. And so that’s when Facility Ally came into play. You know, the HyVee arena was opening, and we were meeting with them. And they really needed something to manage their facility. And so already had the league system league ally. They were like, We need something for our facility. And I already had a bunch of ideas because these facilities we were working with just weren’t getting it. They’re writing it on paper they were putting into Google Calendar, and they’re using six different software. So we came out with a facility allied to help the HyVee arena. And now it’s gone so much further, but you’re absolutely right. At the end of the day, everybody needs an all-in-one solution. So we said we couldn’t go out with two. We need to get it all in one. So that’s where Facility Ally brings in leagues and all the other things as well. Yeah, so
Matt DeCoursey 09:30
HyVee arena, we’ve done an episode with the guy who rebuilt that that was at one point Kansas City’s premier event place for concerts and stuff like that. You know, Michael Jackson WWE that Final Four. Yep, tournaments before they did it, and football stamps were here in Kansas City and or at least several years, and then the facility fell into disrepair, and a guy named Steve Fauci was also our partner. That facility, how I bought it spent 50 A small $50 million upgrade for it. But then the next issue was there’s all this stuff, all these courts, everything from like, lanes to gyms to rooms, and you know, like all that. So how do you keep track of that? Yeah 12
Luke Wade 10:18
basketball courts, 12 volleyball courts, 24 pickleball courts, and eight suites track lanes. I mean, just gym memberships? I mean, how do you manage all that in one, anda there isn’t one. And so that’s again, our facility I like comes up.
Matt DeCoursey 10:29
Yeah. And there you know, there’s these kinds of things are tricky. I think the one thing that I learned when it comes to booking and just like space management is man, it’s it from the outside looking at it feels simple. And then you realize it is far from it. Yeah, putting something on and off of the calendar. Not that hard. It’s the 10 million F Dan’s and all those paths that can go down, like you mentioned, like, does it need a waiver? Does this person have a membership, things like a deposit? You’ve got billing, invoicing, notifications, reminders, potentially, like group stuff, you got in you can’t if you only have room for 10 people, then you can’t book 15 people or you’re gonna have five people that are mad, and then wait, well, what what if you need to have a coach that matches up with a certain type of other thing, like I always use the baseball Academy as a good reminder, if there’s five pitching machines, and you have 10, hitting coaches, really only five of them can be teaching a private lesson at that time. So you know, these things get really complex. And you talk about integrations with other calendars, because that’s a must. And payment processors and man entrepreneurs there have so many payment processors too. There’s like 1000s.
Luke Wade 11:48
And the big issue is, I mean, there’s so many different software’s out there that aren’t really doing it very well. And the other side of it is most people opening these facilities, there’s no school to go to, to run a sports facility, there’s no place that you go to, to run leagues, the best way or clinics or lessons. And so you just learn from doing it. And so when someone opens a new pickleball facility, they think it’s just like any other restaurant or any other facility they don’t before, when you add the activity of sports and soccer and baseball and training and lessons to it, it’s not the same, you got all this demand, and no way to really manage it. And so if you don’t go to school for that, or you don’t go to the school of life of managing the sports, then you don’t know how to do it. And that’s I think the biggest problem is people open these things, don’t know how to manage it. And that’s where we come in to help them.
Matt DeCoursey 12:31
I think another thing that a lot of people don’t think about is that, you know, Parks and Recs and these departments, they’re strapped for cash, man, they need efficiency. Having a full time employee that just just fills out spots on the calendar isn’t a great use of time. And then, you know, that same person, you know, is out like, you know, putting chalk lines on a field or turning off the turning the lights back on when some smartass little kids turn the switch off, you know, just stuff like that. And it’s also what’s what kind of employee Are you going to get? Yeah, those places because I used to work for the parks and rec department when I was like 20. I didn’t know that I worked. Actually I started when I was 13. I was a T ball umpire and quickly rose. I was doing high school games while I was still in high school. So I’m hired and did other stuff at work for the YMCA. At one point, I did a lot of goofy stuff like that. And I was a marginal employee at best. I was a great official. But outside of that, I wasn’t I mean, cuz I was 20 at some point, you know, I mean, realistically, I was my mind was on chasing girls and drinking naturalize with, with my friends. I’m so old that was back when a case in natural light was like five bucks while people are still drinking it. So you’re not they are no longer $5 a case. Yeah, Natty light. If
Luke Wade 13:59
you want to sponsor Startup Hustle. There you go Full Scale.
Matt DeCoursey 14:04
Man, I, you know, we do have a thing. You’ve been invited? For sure. It’s a fictional club. We call it tears and bears. Okay. It’s a place where entrepreneurs, it’s a safe space. Look. It’s where if you want to just come and curl up in the corner and cry or get drunk, or get drunk and cry, you can do any combo. There’s no real order of operations that comes out. It would most likely be a drunk cry for me for sure. I mean, it happened. So let’s talk about that for a second. Because you just brought in a big round of funding $700,000 Which I think for this whole project was remarkably validating. Yeah. And I said to you at some point, I was like, Well, congratulations, man. And thanks for not quitting. You said to me said was that an option?
Luke Wade 14:53
Yeah, I, you know, I’m a I’m been blessed. I’m very lucky to have support All around me, but yeah, you know, we’ve been working on this for I’ve been working on this for 10 years. And, you know, KC crew has had its ups and downs over 10 years as every business does, but it’s really been dragging along league ally and Facility Ally for five or six years, you know, I put a lot of my own money into this, I went to a lot of debt, I haven’t paid myself a lot, you know, I believed in it. And being a software guy and a sports guy I just saw the opportunity and the need. And, you know, a lot of people probably would have given up, you know, after putting all this money in and not really seeing the return so quickly after five, six, really 10 years. And so yeah, it was very validating a lot of your help last year on figuring out how to raise money. I’m a computer software nerd that has never gone to business school. So not knowing a lot of those things was my biggest challenge. You were a big support there. And then Kansas City, really all the money came from here. So there’s been a lot of talk about no money in Kansas City, really, for small businesses. And I was excited to get all the money from Kansas City and the support here. So yeah, it was really, really challenging. Last year, I really did feel like giving up I didn’t think it was an option. But man, that thought definitely crossed my mind. And it was right at the end of the year, the money came through and the investors came through and, you know, feels really good.
Matt DeCoursey 16:10
The timing did suck. I mean, it did. Yeah, it did. We worked on it for a while. And then it was like, Hey, we could launch this thing, pandemic comms, throws everything for a loop, kind of changed investor roles, and just did a lot of stuff. And you know that that’s so so when it came to, I want to prove out a couple of theories here. So first off, none of that money came from from well, we weren’t going to Google and find the places that came from Angel and private equity type people. And that’s I’ve talked a lot about that. Because a lot of people say, well, there’s not enough funding, there’s not enough things going on. You did a lot of work. You talked to a lot of people, there was a lot of a lot of chatter. And a lot of me may be sounding like a pessimist on Sunday. I’m like, Yeah, but you know, we got to really drive this home and prepare and be ready for this. And you know, it’s not until the money is in our bank account. Yeah. It’s not a real thing. But you had to talk to a lot of people. Yeah,
Luke Wade 17:12
and I think that was the problem in the beginning for me is, you know, you see, you see Shark Tank, you see all these things where it’s like everybody thinks you just start a business and you go raise money, and people are just throwing money at you. And, and that is not the case at all, I spent an entire year talking to every person under the sun that possibly could put money in, you know, I did unfortunately start with VC firms and thought that was the route to go and, you know, really figured out what the what the context were were people who understood the space because, you know, at the end of the day, I don’t consider myself a sales guy. I’m the hustler. I like to bootstrap, I like to get things done. But you, you know, so it makes that makes it really hard. When you’re going out asking for money. He’s like, I don’t want to ask for money, I want to just get stuff done. But when you have the money, and you see the vision, and you see where it can go, it makes more sense to get that and especially with strategic partners, everyone that came on from you to Steve foutch to the other investors that just invested or strategic developers, salespeople who’ve done software things before that made sense for me. And so we’ve really built a great team here. And it wasn’t just here’s your money, go to run a business,
Matt DeCoursey 18:12
when it comes to the like the VCs and funds like that this, this was a weird, what a kind of a weird play for them. Cuz there’s stuff out it’s easy to look at this space and get responses like what’s a crowded space, there’s other people doing this, you’re competing with mind-body, and
Luke Wade 18:30
I’m having a flashbacks don’t say it anymore.
Matt DeCoursey 18:35
But it’s true. And that’s, you know, some of that stuff comes up. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t people that are interested. And in many ways it worked. It did work out because I don’t I’m not gonna get into too many details here. But having people that understand what you want to do, how you’re doing it strategic partners, in many ways is going to, I think that’s going to end up better for you and the business than it would have to just take XYZ capitals check.
Luke Wade 19:05
Oh 100% This, these last investors kind of put me through the wringer on my finances, my forecasting my good burn, everything like that I’m actually not very good at and so it helped me learn so much more about the business and really realized like, well, when are you going to run out of money? How much money do you actually need? I mean, again, all great questions that I needed to find out. And so that really helped me with these investors knowing like these guys really want this to succeed because they’re asking the right questions. They’re pointing me in the right direction. And so as much as challenging as it was, like, man, waiting on the money to hit the account, had to jump through all these hoops at the end of the day. It was it was totally worth it for sure.
Matt DeCoursey 19:41
Speaking of finding things, finding experts, software developers, it doesn’t have to be difficult, especially when you visit FullScale.io where you can build a software team quickly and affordably. Use the Full Scale platform to define your technical needs and then see what available developers, testers and leaders are ready to join your team go to FullScale.io Learn more. You know, it’s speaking of learning things. I mean, you had to learn a lot. We did pitch school, and some other stuff a few different times. And and oh man, you probably have a love hate relationship with me on some of those days because some of that stuff’s tough, you know? And that was it. Let’s talk about a few of the things that you learned. Okay, so here you are post funding. And we talked about this for a long time, what are a couple things that you had to get way better at? Not looking back at it, you’re like, shit, if I wouldn’t have done that, yeah, we might have a different story.
Luke Wade 20:33
Well, I’m going to steal what you’ve you said earlier, as lead with the need, you know, I think I used to start off with a bunch of start the whole conversation and everything off with nothing that really related to the people I was talking to. And so a lot of times, they would just zone out. So when I started finding the right people who understood the problem, and I lead with what we were doing to solve it, and talking about that, that really helped change the conversation. And it also helped me find immediately who, whether I was talking to the right person or not, when I started leading with this need, and here’s the problem and asking questions, you know, I’ve realized whether they understood the problem or not. But yeah, I mean, pitching, very short, pitching, meeting, you know, meeting the right people, at the end of the day, it’s, you want to meet with the people who understand the problem, just because they have money doesn’t mean they’re gonna give it to you. And most likely, they don’t understand the problem, they’re probably not going to give you money, because they don’t get it. And so I think, like I said, In the beginning, you know, when I started out with VCs, they gave me all the things you said, you’re, you’re early, this is a crowded space, like all those things. But when I met with people who owned facilities, or worked with facility management, people, they immediately saw the need, and the conversation completely changed. So that was definitely eye opening of pitching. Like he said, we had pitch school here, and I did in front of like, six of your employees. And everybody’s give me feedback. And we changed a bunch of times. And yeah, it’s hard, just like any business running any business. And so, you know, rip the band aid off, do it, get it done, because at the end of day, you’re gonna be better for it when you finish it.
Matt DeCoursey 21:58
I’ve done that pitch coaching, too, with a lot of people and they go home and have nightmares. shorter, faster, save faster, less words, get to the point,
Luke Wade 22:09
I’m saying, um, you say,
Matt DeCoursey 22:12
again, stop again. Yeah, yeah, that’s that’s that’s what life is like around me when the microphones not on sometimes the microphones on on that we actually had a, you know, where Startup Hustle has a partnership with the Kansas City Economic Development Corporation, and they actually send to their grant recipients over here for pitch coaching. So the elevator pitch, and there’s a video up on our social media where we actually did the pitch coaching with them. And then they had to give their elevator pitch and our elevator on the ride down to the main floor. So we solve it, we’re awesome. Yeah, but that’s the thing it has, I have gained so I’ve been down that road that you mentioned, and I remember. So I went. I was entertaining getting investors for Gigabook years ago, and I hired this dude from New York, who was basically going to be my coach. And he came in and beat all that shit into my head. And I hated it. I hated it. And I looked back at it. And I find myself repeating a lot of what he said, which is, you know, basically that leads with the need, like, what’s the problem you solve? And then you have to keep in mind, one of the problems you have to solve is convincing investors that they’re gonna get a return on their money. Yep. And that was, yeah, that was a real problem that needs to be in your pitch, and then your deck. Yep.
Luke Wade 23:32
How are they gonna get their money back? Why would they invest? You know, all those things?
Matt DeCoursey 23:35
And there’s little things, man, there’s 10 million different things. I remember one point, and we’re just kind of chuckling. Do you remember all the website revisions? You were like, do we really need to do this before? Yes. Yes, all of them. And probably more. Yeah, yeah, I do remember that. Some of that was about the presentation. Because the thing is, is back to that whole idea of if then, and like where does locate someone to maybe pay attention for a couple minutes? is hard enough? Keeping their attention now is that there’s a lot of stuff that can derail that. Yep.
Luke Wade 24:10
And if they have a question, and you don’t have an answer, I mean, that’s a lot of times. That’s it, you know, it’s gonna be one question.
Matt DeCoursey 24:15
there are a lot of things that you can say, you know, I went in years ago, when we just started Full Scale, I went and talked to someone important, we’ll leave it at that. And I was in this meeting. And I said, Well, we don’t really need the money. And the guy was like, well, that’s always where we ended our meetings. And I was like, wow, okay, and I get it. So why are you here? You don’t need it. Why are you here? Yeah. And I never did that again.
Luke Wade 24:43
What was the answer? I mean, did you have an answer like, no, I was like, all right. That’s, that’s the way it goes.
Matt DeCoursey 24:46
Yeah. When you’re out pitching, you’re almost certainly going to be in front of like, type an alpha kind of people and they are. That’s that thick. Skin. Did you have to develop some thick skin?
Luke Wade 25:02
Oh, yeah, I luckily went and I joined the military when I was 17. So I played football and wrestling. And so I’ve gotten some pretty thick skin over time. But you know, there’s definitely things that hurt from time to time. But, you know, I think that is probably the hardest part is when you do believe in what you have so much. And you just get no after no after No, everyone knows your baby’s like that. Again, like how we have ever seen, how long can you really believe in it after you’ve been told no?
Matt DeCoursey 25:28
Babies? Yeah, no, my baby’s beautiful, right?
Luke Wade 25:32
Yep. And to be honest, some of them, you know, I think part of the reason that I did get the successful investment is that they saw that I was already successful, they saw that I took a softball league and turned it into a giant organization for the last 10 years. And so I’ve already had success. And you hear this, I think a lot of people hear this is they’re betting on the jockey, you know, not the horse. And so I think that was pretty clear. When several investors were telling me like, we believe in you. And I think that’s one of the things you’ve always done is like, you’re the guy, you can make it successful. Whatever it is, I believe in the jockey, you heard that you almost certainly heard me say that a bunch.
Matt DeCoursey 26:00
Because I say that a bunch on the show. Actually I just did a post on LinkedIn about something somewhere. I have asked a ton of people on and off the show what made a jockey or horse and no one’s ever picked the horse. Because without it, without a good founder or founding team, great ideas are garbage, you know, and now you saw to have a good idea. Execution is key. There’s a big thing with that. And like part of what attracted me to wanting to participate in this was, I mean, yeah, it was opportunistic in a lot of ways. Now, I saw your passion for what you’re doing. And, man, the momentum and the number of people that were involved with KC crew, and its sports league, is substantial, you’re talking about 20,000 people, that is more people than attended the largest indoor concert in Kansas City over the last five years. I mean, that’s an arena’s worth of people. We think about a cool perspective, do you? That’s a lot. I mean, that’s what Metallica was, by the way. Local venues, the Sprint Center, now the T Mobile Center, and it had like 19,000 and change. Yeah. But for real, like, that’s a lot of people, if you look at things and in terms of scale, and so I’m sitting here thinking, okay, there’s credit there. But the main thing was you understand the problem that needs to be solved. And I find that out is so much more relatable when you go out and talk to other people because you get it. So there were, there’s been other competitive software out for a while, and everyone hates it. Yep. And you know why? Yep. And it makes it easy. Now, if I go out and do I might be able to go out and do it, because I understand the woes and pains of booking. But you get past some of that. And like, what’s your familiarity with the space? Yep. And I am having a grasp on the solution that needs to occur from an empathetic angle. I think it just makes a better solution. Did you find that when you went and talked to other people about it? They’re like, Oh, yeah.
Luke Wade 28:10
Oh, yeah. Yeah. When we, when I say, you know, most facilities, you’re using four to eight different software’s to manage it. Everyone’s yet we’ve got this and this and this. And, and so I think the other benefit is that, you know, I’ve done this for 10 years, I’ve helped facilities, fill spaces and gaps and start pickup programs and tournaments and leagues. And so I really understand how you can fill things for facilities, a lot of times they’re paying me to do it. So when I come into them, I’m like, Look, you should be doing this. Well, here’s the software that will manage it, so that you can focus more on growing it rather than worrying about emails about booking your courts. And so I think knowing the problems and actually finding solutions before I work with a facility has been a huge lead, because when I demo nowadays, a lot of times I’m consulting in the meantime, like well, I see other facilities, do an x, y, and z. And like, what are you trying to do? And so it takes all these years of expertise that I’ve built up on doing it myself, and I’m just helping other people doing it and giving them the solution to manage it.
Matt DeCoursey 29:06
One of the things that, you know, a booking engine, it’s not an easy thing to build. It really isn’t and, you know, that’s, that’s, I look back at all the scheduling stuff. So Gigabook has become its, we basically merge that with Full Scale ‘s platform, it handles 1000s of applicants. It handles lots of interviews, and like, I mean, it does so much internal stuff for us and the organizational value that it’s created and just efficiency. Man, did you ever find yourself doing something that’s still archaic, and you’re like, I’ll just go somewhere else? Yep. And so and that’s the reality of the world that we’re in and you know, it’s weird. I felt like that whole space was really crowded. Now it doesn’t feel as crowded because everything’s got to be online.
Luke Wade 30:00
Yeah, I mean, there’s a lot of solutions out there that do one or two things very well. But if you’re talking about a giant facility like HyVee arena, they need more than one or two things done very well. They need everything done very well, you got to do with Facility Ally, what you know, being able to niche something down.
Matt DeCoursey 30:13
Because getting a book is super freaking general. Like that, and that’s where the, like I said, getting it as a niche, you have a better chance as a software founder, you look at the more customized so sometimes people will reach out and be like, Hey, I have a cousin who’s a hairstylist. I think they might like using Gigabook, I’m like, don’t tell him not to. Because there’s like five things out there that are that I say niche down like the hairstyle, you have to shorten this path of getting people set up and understood and like consider who the user is. And that’s where that specificity is great. Now, also, you have to remember to not completely overcomplicate things, because here’s the thing is, software doesn’t care if it’s booking a basketball court or a running lane or a swimming lane or whatever. Zero and ones now, what you do have to do is also make it easy for people to pick these things. Yep. And with that, have you found that to be a challenge? Because of all these different spirits and once again, it’s not just for sports facilities? Yep. So what do you take bookings for?
Luke Wade 31:30
Yeah, so like you said, riches are in the niches like so if you can niche down, that’s the key. And so that is a challenge with Facility Ally, because like you said, we’re an asset management tool that does invoices, clients memberships, a bunch of things, but anything could be an asset, a swimming pool could be an asset. So I think our niche is after facilities who have multiple court uses, so wouldn’t and soccer, soccer complexes can use it, baseball fields can use it, all of those can definitely use it. But as you said, we have a million other features that work really well for people who have multiple things, basketball courts, pickleball, courts, memberships, lessons, coaches, clinics, camps. So that’s what we’re kind of niching after is we’re after the kind of sports mega facilities that do it all. Everyone else can use it. And they are more than welcome to sign up. But we’re kind of after those big ones that have all the pain of five different software’s and paying out the wazoo, and just crazy. And so we’re going after them first.
Matt DeCoursey 32:21
Yeah. And that’s yeah, you talk about trying to because, okay, you can take 50 of those facilities, and they’re probably doing it 50 different ways. Yeah, that’s absolutely, like, wow, wow. So there’s, you know, that said, these are problems that, I think the problem you talked about every good software, and every good business solves a problem. And, you know, people get obsessed with selling their features, you just never do that you always FHB features, advantages and benefits, people buy the benefits. I think the benefit that I found is the most valuable is peace of mind.
Luke Wade 33:00
Yeah, I think double booking was crazy like when we would and this happens to KC crew, which is why I started thinking about the software facilities is, you know, KC crew would show up to a park. And there’d be three people there holding a permit. Everybody had a permit? Like, how did that even happen? That’s because they wrote it on a piece of paper. And then they wrote the next one down. And so, you know, a facility cutter right it as a Facility Manager, you’re getting called every day with these issues? Well, if you have something that manages that, exactly, like you said, peace of mind, like no one can double book, we have a system for that. It’s all done through this. And so yeah, peace of mind is definitely a big one. And then you don’t, again, automation is going to create sales, it’s going to save you time, which equals money. And so that’s really important to let your employees do things that are more user facing, customer facing and patron facing, however you want to look at it.
Matt DeCoursey 33:41
Also under things that are under peace of mind. I mean, how many business owners feel chained to their business? And you look at, you know, you look at when I got into this space eight years ago, I mean, I was talking to people and they’re like, I’m just 24/7. And while facility allies, meant kind of built for things that are bigger at scale, if you look at just business owners in general, they get stuck, man or send a text messages if you’re a service provider, like if you’re getting a massage, and someone stopped four times to like, pick up the phone or answer an email. It’s not the vibe you’re looking for. So that piece, but what happens is the peace of mind goes away when you’re like, Am I missing business? And that’s the same thing with these facilities.
Luke Wade 34:36
Yeah, they, you know, I can totally relate to that. I definitely was in the everyday KC crew for many, many years. And again, computer programmer guy trying to figure out how to run a business, but luckily was able to learn a lot and figure that out over the last couple of years to automate more things, hire the right people set them up for success, which has allowed me to pivot and really focus on Facility Ally and it will comes to facility manager. You’re absolutely right. You know, there’s kind of two levels there. You’ve got the person running the facility every single day, and you got the owner writing the check. And so this person feels all the pain. But if they’re feeling pain, then the owner is definitely feeling pain because they’re hearing about it all the time. And so we essentially are selling it to two different people, the owner who has a checkbook, and they’re worried about that, and then the person actually manages the facility that just needs help. And so it can get a little challenging to do that. But we have some competitive ways to make that a success on both ends, when you look at missing an opportunity.
Matt DeCoursey 35:27
when you look at missing an opportunity. To me, those are the most painful, like when I miss any opportunity, because I’m disorganized or doing something else, or I forgot, or those are the ones that really are the most painful.
Luke Wade 35:43
Or someone doesn’t book because they can’t do it on your website, they emailed you three times, and it was missed. And that’s if you don’t even know that.
Matt DeCoursey 35:49
I think that the neat thing about Facility Ally is that it can be placed on any web page, it can be put inside apps, it can, it’s going to conform to what you already have, doesn’t require you to build a new website or switch to a new platform or any of that stuff. Because, yes, little insertion. If you don’t even want to do that, you can just click
Luke Wade 36:13
Exactly, yeah, the mobile friendly embeddable widget makes it really easy as a marketing guy, I know you are too. You don’t want people leaving your website. 99% of the software out there takes you to a website URL. So we embedded right in there. So you can just keep it all there. Keep the sales on your website.
Matt DeCoursey 36:28
And you know, that’s now you can make changes to what is on the widget and what the options are. Inside a facility. Allah, you don’t have to be a programmer, you don’t have to do different stuff. And like, that’s a whole nother thing. Kind of like whatever sounds like we have someone’s doing construction a drill. Yeah. You know, you kind of always count on, on something, making a lot of noise at any time when you decide to record a podcast. Yeah. So alright, so you know, Luke, when you look back at this, what first off what, like, what was the heart? What’s been the hardest thing?
Luke Wade 37:09
I think it’s just, you know, a lot of it is years and years of, of, I guess what you validate a success for me years of no real revenue or income from a business. And so I think it’s just more of the will to keep that going is really challenging. When a lot of people don’t understand why you’re doing it, you haven’t really hit the metrics of success defined by other people, which is revenue. And so keeping it going for five to six years, you know, has been a really big challenge, because I saw the opportunity, and I believed in it, but really didn’t get validation for a very long time. And so that’s really hard to do, you can definitely get down he definitely, you know, days, you want to quit a lot, a lot, a lot. So I think that’s probably been the hardest part, you know, KC crew, we’ve had ups and downs, but it’s been very successful from day one. And the software hasn’t, it’s something I’ve dragged along and revived multiple times. And so I think that’s probably been the hardest part is just sticking with it, because I believed in it.
Matt DeCoursey 38:07
Software’s like raising a child. I’m going to have a 17 month old and I got one on the way.
Luke Wade 38:12
So that’s congratulations.
Matt DeCoursey 38:15
That is I mean, it’s real, though. And I say software is like raising a child, because when it’s young, it falls a lot. It shuts itself. It throws up so it doesn’t seem to get what you’re telling it. And then it starts to and then it doesn’t shut on you. If you’re doing it right. And it really is like, I’m just, you know, this is a reality, though, because I think a lot of people look at entrepreneurs and like for a lot of people, they’re gonna look at some announcement that came out about you raising their hand that came out of nowhere. Yeah, it did not. It did not, it was there was a lot of blood, sweat and tears and a lot of different stuff that went in and then you know, that hanging on thing. And I see some people do that too long as well.
Luke Wade 39:10
You can get some people that and that’s the hotter, you know, and you know, when it’s too long, you know that you’re broke, and you’re past broke for some people.
Matt DeCoursey 39:14
I don’t know, man could you get? Could you get a job? I’m unemployed.
Luke Wade 39:24
I mean, for me, it’s funny when the pandemic shut everything down and shut all the businesses down. My wife was working for the KC crew as well. So we’re both employed by the same company that got shut down and had to fire everyone. Let everyone go. And I literally looked at her. I was like, I don’t know what to do. Like, I cannot get a job. I was like, I don’t know what to do. Luckily, we figured it out, pivoted, and she actually got a job for one day and did the same thing as if she couldn’t do it.
Matt DeCoursey 39:47
That’s real so I think that it’s an important step. Like making yourself unemployable. Yeah, and you don’t necessarily need to do that if you need to hire software engineers, testers, and leaders at Full Scale, you know, we did our 300th employee just started, congratulations, you’ve got these weird scale things over 2 million hours of service delivered.
Luke Wade 40:09
So awesome. Well, we appreciate it. I just got two more a couple of weeks ago from you guys.
Matt DeCoursey 40:14
So well, that’s and that’s kind of what we do with a lot of folks is you kind of sit in there and you’re we want to see people win, but I can’t I can’t force that. Yep. You know, I can’t. I can’t make someone find you. And I don’t know, I think a lot of you talked about the competition and people doing it the wrong way. Yeah, we want to help our clients win if you’re not winning, and we don’t. That’s the one thing I do know.
Luke Wade 40:36
They can’t keep hiring you guys and hiring more developers if they’re not winning. So our clients grow
Matt DeCoursey 40:41
significantly. And that’s a challenge, man, I think you can probably confirm how expensive and difficult it is to find developers in North America because you’re competing with Google and Amazon and you’re in Kansas City, we have the second largest healthcare software platform that Oracle bought. And Garmin has a ton of media agencies.
Luke Wade 40:58
I used to work at a media agency as a developer, and yeah, I know what they get. I got paid, and I loved it. And I probably haven’t made as much money as I got paid as a developer since then. But it’s coming. Give it time. Yeah, that’s the right time. I prefer freedom. You know, unemployment in the military.
Matt DeCoursey 41:14
And you know, one of the things you’ll hear you know, leaders eat last. That’s right, founders eat last.
Luke Wade 41:22
Yes, on many days, I wish I was skinnier.
Matt DeCoursey 41:26
But for someone that’s been eating last, really fast, same here, try to fix things you. Alright, well, look, thanks, again, for joining me make sure you click the link in the show notes for FacilityAlly.com, we’re definitely going to have some more episodes about this, maybe even a few down the road where we just tell, we’d have to do a little more preparation and tell the whole story. But I think it was a founder’s journey from you know, like I said, when I first met you, you were waving a distress flag. And not sure like, Hey, do I have to throw all this away? And I don’t know, I hate seeing that occur? Like, let’s see if you can fix what you got. You know, there’s, there’s no, especially in the earliest stages. There are no awards given for the elegance of code. You know, like I look at it, I’m like, doesn’t it work? Yeah. I mean, that’s the first thing. And so I don’t know. And please don’t build your new software platform and the 19th most popular coding language, and then wonder why you can’t get help. You didn’t do a lot of people that do that. And I’m like, how did you pick that? But I heard it was up and coming. I was like, yeah, in six years, there’ll be people worldwide that have experience, yet that calls on me. And people are like, they want someone with 10 years of experience for a framework that’s been out for two and a half. I’m sure it’ll be popular someday. So I’m trying to find people that have experience with that stuff. It’s a challenge because I think people really, really overcomplicate things. Alright, so I in my episodes with founders with what I call the founders freestyle, just give my guests a chance to you know, we can talk about what stood out from the episode you can have, it’s a freestyle manner that people rap. I’ve had people do poetry saying you don’t have to do any of those you can apply. I think it’s just a general recap or whatever you’d like to say as we end today’s episode.
Luke Wade 43:12
Yeah, I mean, it’s as if the Startup Hustle is real. I mean, I appreciate being here. But it’s a hustle. I mean, and if you’re out there struggling and you know, working hard, just listen to this episode. It’s not overnight. It’s also a community. You know, I’m here because Matt Full Scale, all the people around me have helped me for the last 10 years. Kansas City is a great community when it comes to those sorts of things. So you know, the devils in the details, but if you can hustle and you can stick with it, and surround yourself with good people, you’re gonna come out on top. So, stick with it. Learn to keep learning, you always gotta keep improving and learning to read a book. Listen to the Startup Hustle, listen to other podcasts and just stick with it.
Matt DeCoursey 43:55
You got to, I look back at this story and you in general, I see tenacity and not quitting. I think that you know, you’re an Army veteran and a lot of that probably didn’t hurt because you didn’t have to do any push ups. Oh, not today. Run up any big hills with backpacks and boots on and but you know, there’s there’s I’ve rarely if ever, I’m like sitting here trying to think about any overnight sensation because they’re not like there’s if you’re trying to start a software company a lot of people have this like yeah, no accident two years no one you’d be lucky if you’re generating revenue two years like it can be that bad. Yeah, it took three and a half for Gigabook. Let’s focus on other things and a lot of us are that’s the way it goes. And you know, the thing is, I believe you have to keep learning. You gotta have humility and be humble, because this shit is humbling. I mean Tell you what, man, if there is one thing that will put you in your place, it’s entrepreneurship. And then one thing is guaranteed to put you in your place as being an entrepreneur that’s trying to find investors.
Luke Wade 45:10
That’s for sure. And as you mentioned, I got sent to Iraq when I was 20 years old. And, you know, I think that’s where not giving up comes from. I remember immediately, just when I got the call. I’ll never forget it. I just thought, well, here we go, I gotta go to Iraq, you know, and I knew other people that immediately thought, how do we get out of this? And I didn’t think of that. I just thought, Man, I signed up for this. This is my duty. I can’t. There’s no thought that crossed my mind that I wasn’t going to go. And I think it just all stems from that, you know, 18 years later. Just don’t give up. Pivoting and changing what you’re after isn’t giving up, you can always change, and you can always do things differently. But you know, I think giving up as is, is not an option.
Matt DeCoursey 45:49
Well, you know, in Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, he talks about the importance of finding what you need and making it work in the field. Finding provisions in the field is 10 times more valuable than bringing them there yourself. And I think that’s what you did. You gotta figure it out. It’s like, I didn’t. I didn’t go to college for entrepreneurship. Dropped out of five colleges. Man, I learned all that shit on Google and YouTube. And I mean, that was really good. I mean, I’ve done a couple of posts about that recently. Like if the solutions were out there on the internet. Yeah, I mean, oh my god, it’s definitely now AI and everything else. And you know, I mean, that’s out there. You just got to go look for it. And you got to go ask for it. And that’s a big thing. If you think opportunities and success are coming to deliver. You’re wrong. Yep. Yeah. Are they coming to deliver? No, you gotta you’re like, like lugging the kids chasing the ice cream truck.
Luke Wade 46:50
I think you nailed it when humbling is really important because if you go and think you know everything, you know, you’re definitely going to fail, you know, so try to learn from everyone around you, everyone that’s out there, and see how it fits your business.
Matt DeCoursey 46:54
And that’s where we’re gonna end this up. So thanks for joining me. Thank you so much.