Fitzgerald, 35, has left PeopleLinx, the social selling business — and taken three other staffers with him — to take on the role of CEO at his own startup, Hurdle.
The newly-launched Hurdle is like Squarespace for races or runs — really any event you actively participate in. People who organize races can use Hurdle to create a mobile-friendly event website that processes registrations, aggregates social media and allows them to communicate with participants.
The market for this kind of service exists, the team said, pointing to the ubiquity of races (this website lists nearly 50 races scheduled for the upcoming month in the Philadelphia area alone) and what they’ve heard from race directors — that it’s a struggle to build an online presence for their events. The leader in the race registration space is a Texas-based company called Active.com that’s been scorned by the racing world for its hidden fees.
In the coming week, sites from the first Hurdle users will go live, Fitzgerald said. The service is currently free.
It’s a passion project for Fitzgerald, who did his second Ironman Triathlon in September and races with Center City’s Breakaway Bikes. He said he left PeopleLinx because it was time to do his own thing and because he wanted to get back into the consumer startup game (PeopleLinx is focused on enterprise customers).
When asked about Fitzgerald’s departure, the team at PeopleLinx said the same.
“PeopleLinx is laser-focused on the enterprise, and Keith is a B2C guy,” said PeopleLinx spokesman Michael Idinopulos. “We wish him and his new venture well.”
The company is looking for a new CTO, Idinopulos said.
Fitzgerald’s cofounders, Dan DeLauro, Greg Thompson and Ryan Katrina, say that for them, Hurdle is also that next step up. The trio worked together at Center City agency Neiman, where DeLauro was technology director, and all three left shortly after the merger that turned the company into Allen & Gerritsen. They eventually ended up at PeopleLinx, working under Fitzgerald. That’s where the team discovered that they worked well together, they said.
The departure from PeopleLinx has been amicable, they said. The Hurdle team was instrumental in building PeopleLinx’s newest product, PeopleLinx 3, which was a response to LinkedIn’s announcement that it would no longer allow companies to use a real-time feed of its data. Instead of leaving the company after that shakeup, the Hurdle team stayed to build the new product, something that DeLauro speaks about with pride.
It’s the second big departure for PeopleLinx this year: cofounder Patrick Baynes left this summer to pursue his next startup. These movements — talent spinning out of startups — suggest the vibrancy of the city’s tech scene.
Fitzgerald’s trajectory, in particular, is a good example of how the tech scene’s growth can translate into talent moving from startup to startup. After nearly a decade of working as a developer at companies like Razorfish and Comcast, he joined Ticketleap in 2009.
“When I started at Ticketleap, I was like, ‘There’s a startup in Philly that can pay people?'” Fitzgerald said.
Almost four years later, as the tech scene blossomed, he left Ticketleap for one of the many Philly startups that could pay people — PeopleLinx — and now he’s running one.
Hurdle has raised at least $50,000, according to an SEC filing, and is looking to raise $500,000. Investors so far have been friends, family and angels, Fitzgerald said. Still, the team is focused primarily on getting users and developing the product, he said. They’re currently working out of a Passyunk Square rowhome that DeLauro used to live in.
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