Rec emerges from stealth to modernize Parks & Rec management and booking

Park and recreation organizations help communities thrive. However, many of them use outdated systems that make program registration stressful for residents, potentially leading to lost revenue for cities.

Rec, a new startup aiming to improve the local recreation experience, launched out of stealth today.

The platform’s offerings cater to four groups: residents, community organizers, coaches and city staff. Residents can discover available reservation slots, book lessons and learn about upcoming events in their area. Instructors have the option to run either group clinics or private classes. Meanwhile, Parks & Rec departments gain access to booking, workforce management and marketing tools. In the background, cities see a dashboard that shows things like usage and which resources are currently low.

Two former Uber Eats employees, Birju Kadakia (former product lead) and Rachel Williams (worked in enterprise operations), started Rec in 2022 because they were frustrated with their local recreation experience.

“Both of us grew up playing and competing in sports, but neither of us had the means to access private clubs and expensive training — our experience relied on the local rec center and, of course, eagerly awaiting that activity guide to arrive in the mail every few months,” Williams tells TechCrunch. “Fast-forward, we’ve been lucky to have been a part of previous companies that enhanced many facets of our everyday life, but somehow, the local recreation experience in most cities, even in 2024, still centers around that same activity guide!”

While there are companies offering recreation management software (ActiveNet, Omnify, CommunityPass and RecDesk, among others), Rec says it’s the only platform for local facilities that handles booking, management, coaching lessons and community engagement in one place.

“Cities are currently paying for recreation management tools that are often clunky and stuck in the past, and we believe that both Parks & Recreation staff and their residents deserve a better experience,” Kadakia says.

Image Credits: Rec

“My team spends painstaking hours ensuring every citizen has access to fitness and activity in our city. The Rec platform is unlike anything we’ve had before,” Garrett Craig, recreation manager of the city of Torrance, said in a provided statement. “It has given my staff a set of superpowers – clearly designed to support them in their mission to build stronger, healthier communities.”

Rec’s services are currently limited to California users in only eight cities to start, including Torrance, Rocklin, Emeryville and Santa Cruz County. It plans to add eight more in the next few months (they didn’t tell us which cities, specifically).

Rec touts pickleball and tennis court programs as one of the main drivers of its growth, with around 4,000 active users and over 100 California-based pickleball instructors on the platform. There are approximately 48.3 million pickleball players in the U.S., per a report from the Association of Pickleball Players, and parks and recreation centers are overwhelmed by the number of reservations flooding their systems.

Regarding its business model, the company charges Parks & Rec departments an undisclosed booking fee. Rec saw a revenue growth rate of 40% month-over-month in Q4 2023 (from October 1 to December 31).

“The fee does vary based on every region and the products and services provided in each partnership. In any case, the Rec fee is at similar or lower prices than the incumbent players in the space. In almost every partnership, launching Rec has resulted in both incremental participation from residents and incremental revenue for the Parks Department,” Rec explains.

The company is backed by NFX, Precursor Ventures, Long Journey Ventures and angel investors from Uber, Google, The Athletic and more. To date, the company has raised $6.2 million, including a $2.2 million pre-seed round in December 2022 and a $4 million seed round a year later. Rec is using the funding to scale its 10-person team across engineering, design, sales and marketing, as well as build more features and extend its offerings to additional community facilities, including programs in schools, churches and apartment complexes.

“Our current focus is to build Rec hand in hand with Parks & Rec departments to give them the tools needed to give residents a reimagined recreation experience. As we look to the future, we envision a world where access to local recreation, playing sports and being active in your community is excruciatingly simple,” Kadakia notes.


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