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Zach Maurides talks future of Teamworks, INFLCR following $50 million in Series D funding

Pete Nakos06/21/22
Article written by:On3 imagePete Nakos

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Zach Maurides
Courtesy of Teamworks

Zach Maurides does not have to think twice about his messaging to his Teamworks employees.

The CEO and founder of the sports tech startup has created the product that has been dubbed the “operating system for sports.” He just captured $50 million in Series D funding, with supporters including NBA legend David Robinson, Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota and 28 other former or current professional athletes.

The latest round of investing has only put Maurides’ longterm plan into hyperdrive. What started as a class project at Duke has been built up into a multi-million dollar company. Through merging with NIL-focused INFLCR and health-centric Notemeal, he believes Teamworks addresses every aspect of the student-athletes needs.

Investing in more technology and hiring the right developers to build it is the next step. He’s already identified what areas on his platforms need updated.

All of it is leading to a day where Maurides envisions Teamworks going public. But until then, he has a simple, three-word phrase he is living by.

“Let’s fucking go,” he told On3 in an interview Monday.

Maurides: INFLCR must continue help schools educate student-athletes

Jim Cavale formed INFLCR back in 2017 on the heels of the NCAA v. O’Bannon ruling. With the hope of taking advantage of the coming NIL era, he created a company that helped student-athletes build bigger brands on social media.

Just last week in Atlanta, Cavale and INFLCR hosted the first-annual NIL Summit. And since the company merged with Teamworks back in 2020, INFLCR has been helping connect athletes with brands for partnership agreements.

Since the NCAA adopted its interim policy nearly a year ago, INFLCR has kicked into high gear. With the ability to assist athletes in brand building and connect them with businesses in their global and local exchanges. Over 70,000 athletes use the app.

Maurides only hopes to continue to provide Cavale the tools needed to help INFLCR grow. Exiting the NIL Summit last week, one of the top takeaways is the need players have for tax education and financial literacy.

“I think right now the biggest part in NIL that’s missing is financial literacy, whether it be taxes or how to invest,” former Rutgers basketball player Geo Baker said in Atlanta to On3.

INFLCR will address that, thanks in part to the latest round of funding.

“We’ve always viewed ourselves as constructing infrastructure, like we’re building plumbing,” Maurides said. “And we’re building plumbing to make everything that relates to NIL easier for the institutions and the athletes that they serve. And so, you know, number one, our focus is almost always on extensibility.

“We work for the school. We’re focused on building infrastructure to support this. A lot of this going to be driven by how NIL continues to develop and the new types of transactions and behaviors and interactions that we need to be able to support.”

Cavale and Maurides still do not envision INFLCR becoming a marketplace. While the $50 million could certainly fund the venture, there is no want to accomplish that entering Year 2 of NIL.

“We remain committed to not being a marketplace taking transaction fees,” Maurides said.

Teamworks has to develop tech to addresses mental health

In survey results released by the NCAA last month, student-athletes reported they continue to have growing concerns over their mental health.

An association-wide survey, the data indicated rates of mental exhaustion, anxiety and depression have remain 1.5 to two times higher than identified before the COVID-19 pandemic. Athletes reported lower levels of hopelessness in fall 2021 than in the first year of the pandemic.

With responses from over than 9,800 student-athletes, 69% of women’s sports participants and 63% of men’s sports participants agreed they can identify a mental health facility on their campus. Yet, when asked if they would feel comfortable seeking support from a mental health provider on campus, less than half of the survey participants answered they would.

This survey has is at the forefront of Maurides’ future plans. the Teamworks CEO believes it is the missing piece needed to meet an athlete’s needs.

“I think a big problem that everyone is dealing with college and pro sports is mental health. Huge,” he said. “I’m hopeful that somebody is going to find the right formula to solve that at scale. We talk to our universities — they can’t hire mental health professionals fast enough to address that issue. So we’re absolutely on the lookout for other companies that are building solutions in that space that we can either acquire or partner with to bring that to our customers.

“And I would say we’re — internally — also exploring options to start to build solutions.”

Teamworks currently serves over 300 NCAA Division I athletic departments. While major schools can afford employing multiple mental health specialists, that’s not the case for the majority of Maurides’ roster.

And the list of athletes does not stop at the college level. The Teamworks system is used by professional and national teams.

“We’ve got to find ways to use technology to scale,” he said. “Everything from prevention to identification to care.”

The Future of Teamworks

Zach Maurides wants to see Teamworks as the integral, go-to operating system for every collegiate and professional sports team. He is already on a path to reaching that goal, and the latest round of capitol funding only helps. But he has other goals, too.

He is working towards making Teamworks the vehicle for everything an athlete needs. He gives the example of the iPhone. When users need something they can rely on, they head to the app store. He wants Teamworks to build the same confidence level with its players.

The CEO of the major tech startup is also confident it will work. After the last two years have brought so many changes to the way sports organizations view the world, he believes now is the time to create transformations.

Maurides is adamant Teamworks can delivers on everything it has promised and more. His company disrupts the norm, and that is OK. Teamworks, INFLCR and Notemeal are in position to make the change.

“We have a group of people here that really care about this industry,” Maurides. “And they believe in what technology can do for this industry because it makes it better for everyone. If this industry becomes more efficient as a result of adopting technology, that means more value goes to the athlete.”