Business / Sports / Startups

Why racing startup Hurdle shut down

“It didn’t feel like the biggest important thing we could do,” said cofounder Keith Fitzgerald, who just joined Manayunk-based endurance sports startup Silverline Athletics as its CTO.

The way Keith Fitzgerald sees it, when you’re building a startup, you want to go after “the biggest, most exciting idea that you can.”

After roughly a year of working on Hurdle, which was like a Squarespace for race registration pages, Fitzgerald and his three-person team decided that Hurdle didn’t fit that bill. It was too niche.
“It didn’t feel like the biggest important thing we could do,” Fitzgerald said.
For one, there are a lot of companies in the endurance sports space pursuing similar products, but more importantly, through Fitzgerald’s conversations with big industry players, he saw a bigger opportunity. Something that felt more like that most exciting idea he could tackle.
“We saw an opportunity to build something completely brand new and unique,” he said.
What is it exactly? Well, Fitzgerald is staying quiet about that part. But he just joined Manayunk-based, Ben Franklin Technology Parters-backed endurance sports startup Silverline Athletics as its CTO. Hurdle cofounder and designer Ryan Katrina joined the company, too, as its head of design. They’ll be working on consumer products for Silverline.
(A hint, maybe? Before joining the company full-time, Katrina and Fitzgerald built this racing site for Silverline.)
Like Fitzgerald, Silverline cofounders Jayme Ann Goldberg and Holden Comeau are both triathletes. The company has largely focused on its video distribution platform for endurance sports.
The two other Hurdle cofounders — Greg Thompson and Dan Delauro — returned to the agency side of things. (Thompson, Delauro and Katrina all met at Center City’s Allen & Gerritsen, when it was called Neiman.) Thompson is back at Allen & Gerritsen and Delauro is now at Happy Cog.
Delauro, who left Hurdle a few months sooner than the others, wrote in an email: “Personally, I’m pretty happy with what I’m doing right now. I’ve been working with Happy Cog on and off for a long time. They’ve always been in my crosshairs. And vice versa.”
The crew left Center City startup PeopleLinx, where Fitzgerald was CTO, to launch Hurdle last year — the way the founders talked about it, it felt very much like a “striking out on our own” situation. So it was a hard decision to shut down, Fitzgerald said, but in the end, it was the right one.
“It can be hard sometimes to let go,” he said, “when there’s this crystal clear, picture-perfect thing you have in your mind.”
But, he said, “adaptability and flexibility is the No. 1 asset you can have as an entrepreneur.” Thus the hard decision to walk away.
He said he’s excited that he can join another company in the endurance sports industry and that it’s a sign of the times that Philly has another startup that’s focused on that space.
“We’re super happy about how everything’s gone,” he said. “We’re in a really good spot.”

Companies: Hurdle

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