This recent article from Brother Printers explains some of my story; basically I’m a passionate runner (ran Track and XC at Arkansas State University from 1998 – 2002) and occasional race director that was tired of seeing small to medium sized races (the vast majority of races around the world) getting hammered by the cost of chip timing services.
The first race I directed in 1999 was for the FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes), a club I help to start on our campus while attending ASU. As a runner I had no problem organizing the race, until it came time to decide how to time it. I participated in enough races with manual timing (ie the Card System) that I really did not want to go that route, however I was shocked that the best quote I received for timing services for our small race was $800. The purpose of the race was to raise money for a new club starting on campus. The club didn’t have any money, and as a college student my wallet was understandably slim. My biggest fear was to pour all of my time and energy into an event where most of the money went to the timer (if I made any money at all!). So I decided to search online and see if I could find some free (or inexpensive) programs that would allow me to time the race myself. Even back then the programs (which are still around today) were old, complicated, and many wanted yearly fees. I ended up manually timing the race, but I decided at that moment I would do something to offer an easy and affordable timing system with no yearly fees. I first developed a system for my own personal use around 2003, it was simply a manual timing system (press the space bar to capture a time, and enter bib numbers in finishing order). I often exchanged entry to the race as the payment for timing it. I would do registration, start the race on the computer, jump out and win the race, and then sit down and time everyone else. That’s how much I loved running and giving back to the running community. It didn’t take long before many race directors were asking me to time their race, so I decided to turn it into a small business.
In 2010 I started working on making the software available for anyone to download and use, and of course I wanted it to interface with RFID equipment and do a lot of other cool things I had always dreamed my system would do. As I researched RFID systems I found that most all of the RFID components used in other timing systems are simply re-branded hardware that can be purchased off the shelf for a fraction of the cost. All that is needed is the software to make it all work together. As a software developer by trade (> 10 years building Police & Jail Management software) I knew I could solve this problem. With this system you’re able to buy all of the hardware from anywhere you choose, there are no yearly fees, it includes free support and upgrades, you’re free to install and use the software on every computer you own, and I allow everyone to use the software for free for at least two months so that they can make sure everything meets their needs / expectations. So as you can see, this system is my attempt to give back to the running community. Even though this business is my "baby" and I spend at least 40 hours a week on it, I continue to work at my full time job so that I can offer everything with the race timing business at the lowest possible cost. I also really enjoy where I work and who I work with at my full time job.
With basically no major marketing I now have hundreds of customers around the world in the short time the system was made available to purchase (late 2011). Nearly all of them found this system by stumbling upon one of my early YouTube videos. So it’s obvious to me that people are not happy with what is currently being offered by other timing systems and were looking for something better. In fact if you look at the "Who Are You" thread that a customer started on my Users Group page you’ll see where many people almost made the mistake of buying another system and luckily stumble upon mine before it was too late.
I’ve poured everything I have into it to make it the easiest and least expensive system on the market, but without sacrificing performance at all. After all, ease of use and fantastic performance is the only way the support requests stay extremely low, so those are always my top priorities! :)
If you have any questions I would be happy to speak with you. You can reach me at AgeeRaceTiming@gmail.com.
Agee Race Timing, LLC