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Rochester sports technology firm's playbook maps out doubling its team in 2022 with a $1 million investment

The new year looks to be a big for GoRout, a Rochester sports technology firm. Fueled by an $1 million investment, founder and CEO Mike Rolih plans for his team to double in size and to expand its reach into more sports and into more countries.

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With a new $1 million investment in hand, Founder and CEO Mike Rolih plans for his team at GoRout to make more big plays in 2022 as it expands its reach into more sports and into more countries.

The Rochester sports technology firm launched in 2013 with a goal to create technology to help make communicating plays to football players on the field easier.

Its early focus was on a computer display built into players' helmets, but it eventually determined that it was not viable as a long-term product.

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“It was a great way to kind of showcase our chops,” said Rolih of the helmet display.

GoRout has since shifted to devices that are worn on the waist or wrist, like a watch. It has also expanded beyond the field to add offerings for basketball teams.

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While the company has adapted and scrambled like a quarterback under pressure, it has steadily gained yardage as it matured from a start-up to a revenue-generating company.

GoRout, which is based at 3269 19th St. NW, currently has about 400 college and high school teams using its technology during practices. Rolih estimates that about half of this year’s college bowl games had at least one team that used GoRout devices for practices.

The company’s digital network for play videos now covers more than 97 percent of the United States.

“In this past year, we had more than 1.4 million plays from 48 different states sent through our network,” said the CEO.

The company’s progress has not gone unnoticed. Traction Capital, a new Minnesota venture capital and private equity firm, recently invested $500,000 in GoRout. It raised an additional $500,000 using a type of subsidiary company called a special purpose vehicle.

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The new year looks to be a big for GoRout, a Rochester sports technology firm. Fueled by an $1 million investment, founder and CEO Mike Rolih plans for his team to double in size and to expand its reach into more sports and into more countries.
Contributed / GoRout

“From a growth and stability perspective, we're doing very, very well. But now, with this investment from Traction, it's providing us with additional rocket fuel to really start to scale up our operations," said Rolih. “We expect to double our number of employees in Rochester in the next six to 12 months.”

That means going from nine employees to 18 or 20 by the end of 2022 as GoRout expands its operations in Europe and adds soccer and lacrosse to its list of sports.

Peyton Green, an analyst for Traction, said the GoRout really fit his firm’s model for growing, revenue-generating companies.

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“Beyond just the interesting and innovative concept and the goal to revolutionize the way that sports teams practice, our interactions with Mike Rolih were always positive. And we were more impressed with him every time we met with them,” said Green. “We place quite a bit of an emphasis on the team and on the founder. The reason for that is we believe that, ultimately, those are the people that make a business succeed.”

Rolih plans to use the Traction investment to beef up every aspect of his company from design to distribution to billing to marketing.

That playbook includes keeping GoRout based in Rochester. All of GoRout's products are designed and distributed from Rochester. In 2021, Rolih’s team shipped their products to 14 countries and that’s a number he plans to grow.

GoRout has also attracted the interest of other companies in the sports technology world.

Hudl, a large sports video analysis company based in Lincoln, Neb., has reached out to GoRout to start collaborating in 2022.

“Hudl is the behemoth in our space. They have more than 98 percent of the market and they were looking for ways to provide additional value to their customers,” said Rolih.

The end result is that GoRout is rolling into 2022 with strong support to turn what began as a small, ambitious start-up into a strong international player in sports technology.

"We've just got a lot of headwinds behind us and a lot of momentum pushing us forward now. Now it's our job to continue to keep executing and delivering on what we've already built,” said Rolih.

Jeff Kiger writes a daily column, "Heard on the Street," in addition to writing articles about local businesses, Mayo Clinic, IBM, Hormel Foods, Crenlo and others. He has worked in Rochester for the Post Bulletin since 1999. Readers can reach Jeff at 507-285-7798 or jkiger@postbulletin.com.
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