Hewitt Tomlin is the co-founder of the athlete management platform, TeamBuildr. We at RPR are pleased to have forged a partnership with TeamBuildr because we share the True North of an athlete-centered approach to S&C/Performance. Not only do we share this common direction, but we both know that the most precious asset we have is time - and that performance coaches invest a lot of time in their athletes and relationships. At both TeamBuilder and RPR, we care deeply about giving the coach more time.
As a graduate from Johns Hopkins, you will always be asked if you studied or practice medicine. While many graduates do, there are many who do not and go on to have a great impact in other places around the world. I am proud to be impacting the field of strength and conditioning, and would like to share my story about how I arrived here along with a few lessons I learned along the way.
I arrived at Hopkins as a student-athlete playing football after being noticed at the Princeton Football Camp. Of course, my journey was aided by two parents who pushed for strong academic effort as well as the privilege of attending a well-structured private school by charity of my grandparents. Once I arrived on campus, I was lucky to be paired with a roommate, James Peters, who also happened to be one of the smartest people I know. In short, James is a self-taught computer programmer who came up with the idea for TeamBuildr and built the platform from the ground up. He asked me to be his partner in the venture.
By the time graduation came around, I was in a position where TeamBuildr had potential to be a viable business - with a lot of work. James filled the role of “technical founder,” which meant I would take on sales, marketing, customer service, operations and anything else to support and run the business. It was not a company yet, just an idea with a prototype; we had no customers, no users and no investment. But we knew there was a future for a product like ours.
However, understanding this opportunity enough to pursue it was a process that took time. When my athletic career was over, I lost a great deal of confidence in myself; many of the skills I had acquired in sport were now useless. I had to “rewire” my soft skills into “real world” application while learning new hard skills. In fact, out of college I worked at a car dealership in a job I absolutely hated. My girlfriend at the time from Hopkins went on to medical school and broke up with me, and many of my peers moved onto highly-regarded professions. Needless to say, the few months after my college graduation were some of the most insecure of my life.
Then came a point where I knew a decision had to be made. I began applying to full-time jobs in technical fields and after getting denied a few times, I remember laying in bed the night after getting a rejection and thinking, “It’s time to turn up.” The plan was to claw my way into a tech job in order to gain new skills that I could transfer to growing TeamBuildr on the side. The result was a sales and marketing position in two startups where I would put in 40 solid hours of work during the week and 10-20 hours into TeamBuildr on nights and weekends.
Slowly but surely, TeamBuildr grew little by little. Three years after my decision to work towards a goal, we had a business that generated enough income for me to quit my full-time job and devote myself entirely to sales and marketing for TeamBuildr. Less than a year after that, James was able to quit his job as well. This took place during 2015 - 2016. Today, we are proud to have a diverse office of 7 employees, no investors and a family of over 1,000 strength programs using our software across the world.
As James says, we are still in the “messy middle” and that messiness of growing a business gets glossed over in articles like this. But one of the main highlights in our company's trajectory includes a curiosity as to what our customers like and need. Our product’s value proposition is saving coaches time programming training and collecting training day. In order to know how to do that, we observe coaches work and improve computer-related tasks that can save a few minutes here and there. Another component of having a good working relationship with our customers, most of which are strength coaches, is aligning ourselves with organizations that earnestly advance the profession. In fact, we sponsor all three major associations: NSCA, CSCCa and NHSSCA. That’s a lot of money, but we would not feel right not supporting these organizations.
Keeping with this philosophy, we constantly seek out leaders in education and innovation in order to forge partnerships that benefit our members. This is how we connected with Reflexive Performance Reset. In addition to being founded by some of the most reputable names in S&C, RPR gained traction among some of our customers who raved about it. Once we identified RPR as an innovative idea that will greatly impact the field, we also noticed that the people behind RPR had values that aligned with ours (do good first, do business second), we decided to support their work and introduce it to our customers.
In a way, affiliation with partners like RPR is our company’s way of building the hard skills that I lacked out of college. The more we affiliate and learn from partners like RPR, the better we can accommodate our customers and build relationships with them. Partnerships and collaboration will continue to be an important part of our company as long as our partners’ values align with the strength and performance coaches that we serve.