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This Former Division I Athlete is Changing the Recruiting Game in a Big Way

High school scholar-athletes juggle so many literal and metaphorical balls. They often practice both before and after a full day of classes while sacrificing most (all?) of their free time including weekends for the greater good of the team. Colin McAtee, the founder of ProductiveRecruit, is a former college athlete at the highest level of competition so he knows the struggles first-hand.

Colin created ProductiveRecruit, college athletic software that provides athletes, clubs, and high schools the recruiting, communication, and productivity tools they need to succeed. Think of it as a full-service recruiting CRM.

High school athletes looking to play competitive sports in college need guidance. They are busy practicing and competing while also maintaining sufficient GPAs. University programs vary, and each tier has different expectations especially when it comes to athletic scholarships. Colin played Division I soccer (that’s football for everyone not in America!) at the University of Michigan. He knows how much goes into making the decision where to play post-high-school because he went through the process himself.

Colin is always looking ahead.

Life After Soccer

Colin’s path wasn’t obvious immediately after graduation. Soccer had consumed him from childhood and throughout college, but he wasn’t destined for professional soccer. Post-graduation, Colin had to hone in on his second act. He always had an entrepreneurial spirit and he knew that he wanted to help athletes in some capacity. That’s when he started thinking about how much he learned while he was going through his college journey. 

Colin wanted to be as tech-savvy as possible when entering the job market. He enrolled in a coding boot camp and used his newfound skills to build a site to help players through the recruiting process. This early iteration of ProductiveRecruit (his version 1.0) was called SoccerCruit, and as the name implies, was exclusively for soccer players. It was successful, but Colin was itching to help as many students as possible and not be limited in his scope. Was there a way to scale that experience and for athletes across many different sports?

Colin, ever the entrepreneur, wanted to build a system that would accomplish that. Colin loves the “creative freedom of building things.” There was just one catch, Colin had to teach himself the basics of Laravel to get his idea up and running. Laravel is the PHP framework Colin used to build his idea.

Colin then widened his scope to offer a variety of services that serve many different purposes. He built a system for recruits to create personalized online profiles, and another for partner organizations (clubs, high schools, or resellers who have their own recruiting services business). He then created an easy-to-navigate web app with the ability to create checklists, manage tasks, and track emails. He also created a database that gives his customers exactly what they need at their fingertips.

If this sounds like an ambitious goal, that’s because it is. If Colin was going to invest the time into this company, he did not want to cut corners. Colin built all of this while working a full-time job as a software engineer.

This Former Division I Athlete is Changing the Recruiting Game in a Big Way
Colin McAtee, beast at University of Michigan and in life

Ready for Launch

Colin decided his platform was ready to launch, and ProductiveRecruit was open for business in June 2020. Thankfully, the pandemic turned all recruiting online so Colin was perfectly positioned in the marketplace. As everything shifted and people got used to the new normal, Colin was confident he had the materials in place to help coaches and players pivot to virtual recruiting.

Colin used his network to reach out to soccer clubs with deep rosters. This way, Colin could help scale his business from helping one or two players to entire organizations. Colin’s shift from B2C to B2B was a natural progression. He also began optimizing SEO and completely cornering the marketplace for white label recruiting software. He found clubs to partner with and they use ProductiveRecruit exclusively.

Right now, Colin is a one-man show. At ProductiveRecruit, he spends his days talking mostly to partners and business customers. The website interface is clean and easy to use, and that’s on purpose. Colin wants to make it as simple as possible for players and coaches to focus on making connections for the future. He also wants to personalize the experience and that’s why he is always refining his offerings based on customer feedback. It’s an ever-evolving process and Colin loves every part of it.

This Former Division I Athlete is Changing the Recruiting Game in a Big Way
Colin sans uniform

A Side Hustle with Full-Time Opportunities

Companies are taking notice. Colin says, “A few companies have reached out to me about potential acquisition but right now, ProductiveRecruit is my baby. I’m still working on a lot of cool features to make the app entirely self-service.” Colin wants to be available for his customers as little or as much as they need. It’s paying off, and his website is filled with positive testimonials from current and past customers.

ProductiveRecruit’s main competitor is an enormous conglomerate called NCSA. Colin stresses that the services are pricey, and customers are largely unimpressed with the returns. There’s room in the marketplace for a much more personalized experience and someone who understands how to translate Google searches and capture traffic. 

Colin does whatever it takes to bring the ball home.

Colin is also looking to beef up his content by interviewing former players and creating a publication for potential and existing customers. Colin is always adding new features because he thinks big. Some of his dreams involve being out on the pitch and reliving his glory days, but that’s another story.

He wants to avoid the trap that his competitors fall into – preying on parents’ insecurities. “There are legions of salespeople cold-calling people and using FOMO (that’s “fear of missing out” for the acronym challenged) to make sales. Telling parents that their children will miss out, and other high-pressure shadiness. I want none of that.”

Colin is sharp and this mental toughness was useful on the soccer field and is equally powerful in business. His soccer routine coupled with classwork was tough. There were daily practices, an eating regimen, an exercise routine, and weightlifting. Colin says, “It was a lot. Getting through that builds character and your resolve to get through the challenges in life and business. Quick thinking is a muscle.” Thankfully, Colin has it in spades.

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Andrew Gazdecki
Andrew Gazdecki
Andrew is an award-winning serial entrepreneur with three exits. He’s the founder and CEO of MicroAcquire, the world’s most founder-friendly startup marketplace, and its rebellious child, Bootstrappers, which gives voice to the entrepreneurial underdog. When not building businesses, he writes for Forbes, Entrepreneur, and now, Bootstrappers.

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