Étienne Bernier of Kreezee tells us about the one-stop platform that helps businesses manage their organization, league, or tournament like a pro.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Étienne Bernier: We’re doing well! The Québec province in which I reside is on full lockdowns, but we are making the best of it. My family and I are healthy, and that’s all I can ask for!
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Kreezee.
Étienne Bernier: I’ve been a firefighter in Quebec City since 1995. In 2002, I began a second career in IT in Ottawa as an account and project manager at I4Design. In 2006, I made the switch to Evolutra Corporation, where I held the position of sales director and project manager.
I played in a hockey league, and I wanted to find a sports management platform to help me manage the league’s day-to-day activities (teams, schedules, etc.). During my research, I realized that all the products on the market were either free and of poor quality or good but too expensive. To solve this problem, I started Kreezee in 2013 with my partner Sylvain Gagnon. During the following years, we developed our platform to tailor to the needs of numerous sports and different types of sports organizations.
How does Kreezee innovate?
Étienne Bernier: We launched our first product, a league manager, in 2013, and we haven’t stopped innovating since. We launched the school, club, and tournament solutions during the following years, thus allowing Kreezee to diversify its offering and client portfolio.
At Kreezee, we like to call our clients “partners,” — and it’s important for us that we constantly grow and evolve together. We never shy away from a challenge, and when a partner needs something specific for its platform, we always explore different ways of how we can make it happen. Sometimes that means developing new functionality for the website or adapting the platform for a specific sport. Listening to our partners’ needs and having these conversations allow us to constantly innovate and bolster our offering. In the SaaS business, you innovate, or you die!
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Étienne Bernier: Obviously, the COVID situation has had a huge impact on the sports industry, especially for amateur and youth sports. Leagues and tournaments were canceled, athletic programs at schools were put on hold as people were told to stay home. But our partners stuck with us, and we stuck with them. So even though the overall traffic went down on our platforms, the overall number of websites has grown considerably. When things open up again, we are expecting a tremendous increase all across the board. We even hired four new people during 2020 to support Kreezee’s expansion!
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Étienne Bernier: Thankfully, I’ve not had to make a difficult choice during the pandemic. Our team actually grew during that time.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Étienne Bernier: Being a firefighter for the past 25 years has allowed me to handle myself very well during stressful and anxious situations. When you’ve seen what I’ve seen, a development problem for the website or a short deadline is no big deal.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Étienne Bernier: Our main competitors are Stack Sports, SportsEngine, Pointstreak, TeamSnap, and Spordle. The biggest difference between those companies and Kreezee is that we offer a superior product with more flexibility for the client, a better price point, and, of course, much better customer service. We always listen to our partners’ needs and ensure that we provide them with all the tools they need to manage their sports organizations like pros.
Your final thoughts?
Étienne Bernier: 2021 is going to be a big year at Kreezee, and we can’t wait for amateur and youth sports to get back to normal. With a brand new website and a new and improved platform, we have positioned ourselves as a major player in the sports management software market. Our objective is to reach 50 million users in the next 10 years.
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