August 19, 2012
John Schnipkoweit has an extensive technical background. With more than six years working as a technician, Schnipkoweit would go on to serve as the co-founder and CTO for Sky High Speed, the same role he maintained after being acquired by Ovation Networks.
Today, however, he is exhibiting a new skill set as CEO, co-founder, and according to his e-mail signature, “quarterback,” of the Cedar Rapids, IA-based RecBob, a Facebook app built to simplify your recreational sports leagues.
Tech Cocktail caught up with Schnipkoweit to learn more about his newest venture.
Tech Cocktail: What is RecBob and who is it for?
John Schnipkoweit: RecBob takes the headaches out of playing sports after work. Built on top of Facebook, RecBob automatically finds subs when players can’t make it, makes fee collection easy, and streamlines team communication. RecBob isn’t just for players – it also makes it easy for friends and family to become fans of players, leagues, and teams.
Tech Cocktail: What was the inspiration behind RecBob? What do you enjoy most about working on it?
Schnipkoweit: We’ve all experienced the headaches that come with playing rec sports and wanted to just be able to focus on the fun. After too many forfeited games, we agreed that it was time to come together and find a solution. We’ve built a great company culture that revolves around fun – on the premise that if we aren’t having fun, we can’t help our users have fun.
Tech Cocktail: Who is your greatest competitor, and how do you differentiate yourself?
Schnipkoweit: Our largest competitor is Active.com – but in today’s landscape, collaboration really is the new competition. We’re an affiliate of Active.com, which allows us to combine their existing network of events with our unique platform. RecBob is unique because we are creating the first rec sports fanbase that leverages your existing social graph. We have a couple other startup competitors who are at seed or series A levels, but none of them combine utility with entertainment like we do.
Tech Cocktail: What is the biggest advantage and disadvantage of starting up in Cedar Rapids?
Schnipkoweit: The biggest advantage of starting in Cedar Rapids has been the caliber and diversity of advisors that we managed to assemble in rather short order. Ranging from web application experts, VC fund managers, to a seasoned entrepreneur who has raised many rounds.
The biggest disadvantage is not having a good density of startups to work along side; luckily our entire region, the Silicon Prairie, is working together and has a great collective momentum.
Tech Cocktail: Describe a challenging moment or a crucial decision for your startup. How did you deal with it, and what did you learn from it?
Schnipkoweit: RecBob came out of a Startup Weekend – which was a great experience and provided a great opportunity for all of us to connect. It was challenging trying to figure out how to transition into an actual startup, especially with so many co-founders. We took a few months to get to know each other, talk out the structure of the company and figure out the best way to move forward. Since we wanted everything to be clearly defined and agreed upon, we didn’t work on any of the application code during those three months – which was difficult, because we all just wanted to dig in and start working.
Tech Cocktail: What’s one quirky fact about you, your team, or your office culture?
Schnipkoweit: I’m not sure if its quirky, but we managed to make punctuality a priority for our meetings by requiring anyone who is late to do 20 pushups. Along that same line, we do lots of exercises throughout the day to keep from getting too dormant after sitting too long. It’s hard to be productive when your pulse is slow and your legs are numb.
RecBob was one of the startups to showcase at the Tech Cocktail Chicago TechWeek Mixer earlier this summer.
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