I spoke with him over the weekend—earlier than I usually use my professional voice on Saturdays. I was in my bedroom still wearing my pajamas and silently pleading with AT&T's unreliable service to not cut out again, please, damn it. My phone rang, and he brushed off my apologies with an understanding laugh. Maybe he has AT&T, too.
Coleman Greene is also a really smart guy. A Vanderbilt graduate who got his MBA at UNC, he cofounded Sqord, which celebrates its two-year anniversary in June. Haven't heard of Sqord yet? You will: The company recently was accepted by Chicago's TechStars, a highly competitive three-month mentorship program that nurtures and funds companies in the early stages of development.
Self-described as a "one part game platform, one part social media, and one part fitness tracker," Sqord encourages kids to lead healthy lives through active playtime.
Using its hardware and software platforms, kids can track their movement and upload activities to their social media accounts. Whether they're running, skateboarding, riding bikes, or even taking out the trash, when they swipe their PowerBands over a Sqord SyncStation (located at home and in schools), they score points, get medals, win competitions, and can, basically, brag online to their friends about all the cool, active stuff they're doing. High five, kids. I should probably hit the gym.
Sqord's inclusion in TechStars gives the company access to an impressive network of mentors and investors that can really push it from the early seed stages into the next, more mature phase.
"We're using this as an opportunity to polish the rough edges," Coleman says in a subtly southern accent, his own children clamoring in the background. "We want to build a platform and a brand that is a leader in health and fitness."
Located in American Tobacco, Sqord is in good company, as that downtown destination has become pretty popular among hip Durham start-ups. But a program in Chicago, Coleman explains, makes a lot of sense for them, because they do a lot of work with BlueCross BlueShield and the YMCA, both of which are headquartered in the Windy City. (Plus, his wife grew up there.)
Colman originally reached out to TechStars in 2011 but was turned down. However, he got some good feedback. They encouraged him to keep in contact, so, throughout the year, he'd send the investors updates on the company's progress.
With four full-time employees and one heavily involved contractor on board, he reapplied. and, this time, luck was on his side. TechStars has accelerated companies like Distil and Ubooly, putting them into the big leagues by helping them raise millions of dollars. What start-up wouldn't want that?
Keep your eye on Sqord and the interesting things they're doing in the digital arena. And, if you haven't already, tell your kids to sign up.