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Thriving online firm keeps growing its event-planning business

SignUpGenius growing its online business

SignUpGenius the leading online sign up service for event and volunteer management, that has grown to 7 million monthly users who turn to the site for everything from scheduling PTA volunteers to running corporate training programs. Their office i
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SignUpGenius the leading online sign up service for event and volunteer management, that has grown to 7 million monthly users who turn to the site for everything from scheduling PTA volunteers to running corporate training programs. Their office i

Ballantyne-based SignUpGenius, the online event planner that reports 7 million monthly users, got started seven years ago out of a need for snacks. Seems none of the parents showed up with any nibbles for the kids at a soccer game that Dan Rutledge was coaching.

Later, in a different scenario that Rutledge hosted, everyone at a potluck party brought the same drinks and snacks: Diet Coke, and chips and salsa.

All this prompted Rutledge, now 43 and a dad of four, to think about ways of helping everyone from parents to volunteers to hosts get more organized.

Working with company co-founder Michael Vadini, Rutledge used his Web programming and graphic design skills to create SignUpGenius, an online application designed to make signing up for tasks a breeze. Making it simple to organize groups, reads part of the company’s mission statement.

It’s a concept that has taken off for the company, founded in 2008. SignUpGenius.com was ranked the 521st busiest Internet site on Oct. 7 by alexa.com, an Amazon.com subsidiary that tracks Web traffic.

“Part of how we have grown is by hiring the users, who are so familiar with our product,” Rutledge said during a recent morning at the company’s office in Ballantyne Corporate Park. “We provide some flexibility and we get extremely capable people, and they know our user base.”

How it works

When you go to SignUpGenius.com, you’ll find services catering to the needs of eight different groups.

There are schools, looking for help with organizing parent-teacher conferences, class volunteers, and events such as book fairs.

Churches and temples can get help with scheduling nursery workers and greeters. Nonprofits can organize donations and fundraisers.

Other groups are clubs and groups, sports, business, family and college.

The idea is to attract a range of users, from parents organizing car pools to businesses coordinating employee training schedules. “By going broad, we still haven’t scratched the surface,” said Angel Rutledge, who is married to Dan and is the chief marketing officer.

SignUpGenius’ users are 78 percent female, and 80 percent are between the ages of 25 and 54.

“Our primary user is a mom with kids,” says marketing strategist Kate White. “Most people tend to find us through their kids’ activities.”

Monthly fees range from free to $49.99, where users can get additional features such as cloud file storage and access by multiple administrators. These subscription services were significant, Dan Rutledge says, “because we jumped into the organizational level, from coach to league, from teacher to school.”

While the Rutledges don’t disclose specific financial information of the private company, other numbers illustrate its growth. Revenue in August 2015 increased 225 percent over August 2014, according to the company. Between 120,000 and 190,000 events are organized per month, with a groundswell in August and September, when the school year begins.

In 2014, SignUpGenius says 1.4 million new sign-up pages were created. Traffic rose 35 percent last year, to 39.9 million visitors. And the company has grown from 13 employees this spring, to 20 now.

Space to create

This summer, SignUpGenius made its third move and is now in a 4,000-square-foot space that can accommodate growth.

There’s enough room for double the current staff staff – and for a pingpong table in the break room.

The whimsical decor continues with a lime green and tangerine color theme, a wall display of the company logo – created by Rutledge – featuring cartoonish lettering and a light bulb, and a light-bulb-themed artistic arrangement dangling from an office ceiling

In a conference room, there’s a shelf with awards. The company was recently recognized for Web writing, design and development by the Interactive Media Awards, and The American Business Awards.

Fun office titles play off the company name. One of Angel’s titles is Genius Chief Operating Officer. Dan is Genius CEO. There are Genius Marketing Strategists, Genius Developers, and so on.

One of the company’s next efforts is building its international client base. Recently, the company added multiple time zones to the product. It’s seeking expansion into other English-speaking countries. Currently, 97 percent of users live in the U.S., according to the company.

“We do excellent work in the areas that matter most,” Angel Rutledge says.

“We really serve a great user base,” adds Dan. In addition to being loyal, and friendly, “they are volunteers, giving their time, and changing the world. We take those stories and try to keep the people in mind while we are working.”

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