Zcruit acquired by Reigning Champs, becoming first company from The Garage to be bought

The original Zcruit team works on the product in The Garage. Zcruit recently became the first Garage-started company to be acquired by an outside business.

Daily file photo by Dan Waldman

The original Zcruit team works on the product in The Garage. Zcruit recently became the first Garage-started company to be acquired by an outside business.

Peter Warren, Reporter

Zcruit, a sports analytics company started by Northwestern students in 2015 that focuses on improving college football recruiting methods, has been acquired by Reigning Champs, a college-recruiting network.

The acquisition is the first time a company incubated at Northwestern’s startup hub, The Garage, has been bought by an outside business, according to Elisabeth Wright, marketing specialist at The Garage.

“We are not getting acquired off what we currently have or where we are currently at,” Zcruit CEO Ben Weiss (SESP ’17) said. “We are getting acquired because we developed a really great base and foundation that has the potential to be something really big and exciting.”

Started in 2015, Zcruit works with college football programs to identify potential recruits and predict their likelihood of signing with a program.

Zcruit currently offers two products. The first product is the analytic tool, which has three parts. The tool identifies potential athletes, forecasts which students will accept their offers and gives schools news updates on recruiting. Over the summer, Zcruit took the news aspect of the tool and made it its own product, called Zmail.

With the acquisition complete, Weiss says he is looking forward to “phase two” of Zcruit. This includes attending the American Football Coaches Association conference in early January, recruiting a full-time staff of five, including Weiss, and developing a better product.

“Because of this opportunity, it opened up our mind to a much greater vision to where this can go with a lot more resources to draw from, to build from and to grow upon,” Weiss said.

Fourteen Division I college football teams currently use and pay for Zcruit. This includes nine teams from Power Five conferences, three teams from the Ivy League, two Power Five conference champions and one team competing in the upcoming College Football Playoff. The company is also in the trial phase with four other programs, according to Weiss.

Weiss and fellow co-founder Danny Baker (Weinberg ’17) both said that one of the most important factors in the success of Zcruit is The Garage.

“We could not have gotten to where we were today if not for The Garage,” Baker said.

In addition to giving Zcruit a space to work, The Garage provided the Zcruit team with mentors, resources and capital to help the company grow and succeed, according to Weiss and Baker.

Wright said the incubator expects only 10 percent of students to pursue their startups full-time after graduation. Of those who do continue their startups, Wright said people in the Garage expect them to do great things.

“For us, it is super exciting to see a student (Weiss) that we know so well have such a big accomplishment,” Wright said.

Weiss, who had the original idea for Zcruit, is the only member of the original Zcruit team still working on the product.

He said he is excited for the future of the product and the opportunity to make it grow even more.

“We are really fortunate about this opportunity that has come our way, fortunate with all the supportive people we have had around us and fortunate for how timing has worked out on everything,” Weiss said.

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