Limpag: Cebu startup builds solution for race signups

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Sunday, August 10, 2014


LIKE many people building startups, Race.ph co-founders Aaron Lee Yap and Paul Bray Ouano wanted to fix a problem they encountered themselves. In their case, it was the hassle in registering for fun runs.

Ouano said that when he was still actively joining fun runs, he’d often go to the Cebu City Sports Center to register for an event and at times find nobody manning the registration booth. He said it was a hassle to keep on coming back just to register for a fun run.

“We both had fulltime jobs so mag-apas gyud ka just to register,” Yap said.

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Yap is the chief operating officer of a Japanese online English as a Second Language (ESL) School. Ouano is a freelance web developer who has worked with some of the top local companies, building online systems for them. He also has foreign clients.

Yap said they long thought of putting up a system like Race.ph but their busy work schedules got in the way. Ouano said he started working on the site in 2009 yet. The design they used right now was done in 2012.

Race.ph was launched last May, with the actual name finalized just two weeks before the unveiling. Yap said the name of the system underwent an evolution, with the previous ones not relating to running or marathons. They thought of using race.ph late and considered themselves lucky the domain name was still available.

Race.ph is a website that allows people to sign up for runs, marathons, triathlons and other fitness events and pay the registration fees via credit cards, PayPal, bank transfers or through money remittance services.

For those signing up for out-of-town events, the system allows for shipping of race kits.

Ouano said runners appreciate the ease by which registration is done using their system. The first time a person registers, the system can grab data through his or her Facebook account. All they need to do, he said, is add other details like address and phone numbers. The next time they register, Race.ph can fill up the registration forms using the previous data.

After the race, runners can go to Race.ph to grab photos or even blog about the event. Ouano said the photos can be tagged with the bib number of the participant.

For organizers, Race.ph offers a dashboard that gives them a real-time overview of the progress in sign-ups, from the number of registrants to details such as gender and categories. The system also allows for an easy integration with paper signups and offline registrations.

The Race.ph dashboard allows organizers to export an Excel file of all registrants that they can use to come up with a master list shortly before the event.

Ouano said organizers appreciate the convenience of the dashboard. He said an organizer of a local run who is thinking of expanding outside Cebu found their system convenient because they could accept and process registrations even if they are just based here.

Ouano and Yap said they are offering the system to organizers for free. They said their plan is to offer the basic online registration service for free and charge for premium offerings like SMS and email messaging to participants or customized layout of pages.

Yap said that when they started, they wanted to focus on Cebu but they now have many clients outside the province. Race.ph handled the registration for the recent Mt. Mayon Triathlon and is handling signups for the Kagay-an Festival Marathon 2014, Bohol International Marathon 2014 and the End-to-End Ultramarathon 65K in Tagum City on Oct. 18.

The two said building a startup in Cebu is made easier by services like the Cebu Business Incubator for IT (CebuInIT) of the University of the Philippines-Cebu, where they are virtual locators.

Ouano also said they are thankful to key people in the local startup community like Tina Amper of TechTalks.ph, whom they described as being generous in giving tips.

The two are bootstrapping their startup, funding it out of their own pockets. Their immediate goal for the year is to formalize the business and handle more events. (max@limpag.com / max.limpag.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 11, 2014.

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