While studying at American University, Rachel Koretsky found herself going to off-campus gyms to get her daily workouts in. AU’s on-site facilities were always packed, and wait times were unbearably long.
That is, until Koretsky launched upace. In the summer after she graduated from AU’s Kogod School of Business in 2014, Koretsky traveled to over 30 colleges and universities to chat with students about the problem of campus rec wait times. Whether from small campuses like AU or large state schools like Penn State, students said they all had the same problem with crowded facilities.
Upace launched to take on this problem. The web-based app lets students at partnering schools schedule and reserve a machine in their on-campus facilities. It started at AU and soon added larger campuses, such as Florida State University and Rutgers University, to the expanding client list.
The idea was to always start with university campus facility scheduling, but recently, upace has been rapidly eyeing other clientele for its mobile platform, such as South Florida’s nine YMCA locations and two conferences that upace designed custom apps for in 2017.
“From the beginning, my vision was always to expand beyond universities,” Koretsky told me in a recent interview. “But I first wanted to tackle the university marketplace. Being a recent graduate, I understood the user perspective and I could easily communicate that with the recreation folks at universities.”
In the past few years, upace has found itself following through on Koretsky’s original vision. While pitching at a Philadelphia tech meetup in 2016, a member of the YMCA of Greater Brandywine, which includes eight locations across Pennsylvania, saw the demo and approached Koretsky about implementing the technology in all of their facilities. By the summer, they had launched upace’s technology platform in a custom app for all of the Greater Brandywine YMCA locations.
This new focus on expanding clientele types brought on what is now known as “upace 2.0,” a total app redesign the company announced in early March at the NIRSA conference.
“We’re focusing more on the overarching recreation community,” Koretsky said. “It’s not just about fitness. You can easily add other programs like intramurals or childcare — having all of these other options in the app that way you can give the client the options that they need.”
In 2014, Koretsky was in this on her own. She worked out of AU’s Entrepreneurship Lab on campus, and she didn’t really have a team behind her. Now, peeking at the company’s website, upace has not only a CEO and founder, but also a chief technology officer with more than 10 years of experience, and a chief revenue officer with over 20 years in the field. Koretsky said the company is now a core team of five. And the team recently moved into Alley powered by Verizon’s D.C. location, growing out of both the AU space and WeWork. All this, while remaining mostly revenue-driven and bootstrapped (except for a small amount of funding from family and friends to get the idea off the ground), and no plans to raise any investment funds.
“We don’t want people to see us as just a mobile app. We’ve become a mobile platform,” Koretsky said. “You can use us to manage your center, and in the front-end, give all of your members access through their fingertips.”
In upace 2.0, the company completely redesigned the platform — new color schemes, new app functionalities and new, streamlined reservation and notification functionality. In all, the redesign lets facility managers learn from the users’ data with real-time data-tracking capabilities.
“We were being proactive on everything at once,” Koretsky said. “As we’re going into this next phase of scalability, I wanted to make sure we have the best technology that’s out there.”
Moving forward, upace is focused on remaining an industry leader — keeping their heads down and following through on their vision. Korestsky says most of their competition are companies that are following upace’s lead.