MALIK ALLEN, 35, of Wayne, is co-founder and chief operating officer of inRecruit, a professional-networking site that could be called the LinkedIn of basketball recruiting, connecting underexposed high-school players with coaches. The Willingboro, N.J., native, a Villanova star in the late '90s and former NBA forward, started the firm in September 2012 with 'Nova classmate Joe Rocco, who is the CEO.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for inRecruit?
A: I knew some coaches were using social media to recruit. We've tried to bridge the gap and help coaches who don't necessarily want to recruit on Facebook or Twitter and build a more professional environment so [coaches] have a certain comfort level.
Q: How's the biz model work?
A: There's a huge pool of recurring athletes in high school, as many as 17 million. Kids will be able to post profiles and news on the site and potentially make connections with coaches.
Q: Others are doing this, right?
A: Our [platform] is built on making and encouraging authentic connections, making it easier for coaches to streamline the process to find kids.
Q: What do you mean by "authentic connection"?
A: A real connection. Previously, you would create a profile and pay for email addresses if you're an athlete (or parent), and you got a coach's email address and sent your information. Did the coach actually get that? So with us you have an opportunity to really find that person you're reaching out to. Coaches can find news about recruits, and recruits can market themselves.
Q: Who are your customers?
A: Parents of players being recruited, and coaches. On the coach side, we've built some tools for them to organize the recruits on the platform. The players who sign up will have access through our profile [tab] to see who is recruiting them or looking at their profile. That's what encourages the [authentic] connection. Right now, we have 600 athletes and about 13 college coaches, community college on up to Ivy League and Division I, using the site.
Q: What will services cost?
A: For the athlete, it's going to be $120 annually beginning Jan. 1, and a coach's [subscription] will be $250 a year.
Q: How much did you invest to build inRecruit?
A: We raised about $160,000 from friends and family, and Joe and I put up the rest. The platform cost about $280,000 to build, and we started in summer 2012. We opened up our [test site] in June, and we're still tweaking it. We're in the process of building a mobile app, which will be part of the package when we launch.
Q: How many employees?
A: Three full-time and a programmer who is an independent contractor. We built the platform in India, where we have a team of five.