Thaddeus Lorenz was a Penn State student finishing up his senior year in the College of Information Sciences and Technology when he began to develop Tourney Challenge, a competitive BMX biking app that allows users to compete in leveled competitions by uploading 10-second video clips. The vision behind the app stemmed from Thad’s love for extreme sports, high-level coding skills, and entrepreneurial spirit.
While the technical aspects of his app were sound, Thad struggled to develop a revenue stream that would allow users to access the app’s content for free. For support with this challenge, Thad’s mentor referred him to the Penn State SBDC. Thad connected with SBDC Consultant Elizabeth Hay in early 2020, and she worked with him to develop his business plan. Hay also referred him to the Penn State Law Entrepreneur Assistance Clinic, an organization that could help him establish his business as an LLC.
Thad’s initial vision for Tourney’s launch was to partner with Woodward, a world-renowned extreme sports camp located in Woodward, Pa. A meeting was set for the middle of March 2020, and Thad was set to pitch his idea in hopes of the summer camp helping him establish an audience and relationships with sponsors who could bankroll competitions through the app.
But when COVID-19 hit, summer camps were shut down and Thad had to pivot. He worked with Hay and her colleague Will Hooten to develop a launch strategy and adjust Tourney’s business plan using Live Plan, a virtual planning tool for small businesses.
Around the same time, Thad was accepted into Idea TestLab, a program hosted by Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank. He spent the summer of 2020 utilizing the program’s resources to add features to the app and master his pitch. His TestLab experience, combined with SBDC weekly coaching meetings, helped him determine the most appropriate business model, identify potential barriers to market, and learn how to sell during a pandemic.
By the end of summer Thad was ready to launch a Kickstarter campaign to get his idea in front of key industry heavyweights. With the support of BMX legend Jamie Bestwick, an early supporter of Thad’s work, his $4,500 Kickstarter was fully funded before the campaign concluded. At that point, Thad knew he had enough interest to push for his first sale.
Thad continued to work with the SBDC over the new few months to develop a strategy for pricing and negotiations, and in early November 2020 got his big break: an opportunity to work with national BMX brand Hyper BMX. The company signed on for a yearlong sponsorship deal.
Tourney’s future is looking bright. Thad has laid out a plan to scale the app to other extreme sports and broaden his sales channels. With the help of SBDC consultants, he plans to prep his company in the coming months to appeal to potential investors. Thad brings his excitement as a young entrepreneur, passion, grit, and determination to his business, and the SBDC looks forward to seeing Tourney’s continued success in the coming year.