Ryan Townsend has worked within some of Kansas City’s most headline-grabbing startups for years, but now he’s taking the lead with his product-driven venture Hively — focusing specifically on bringing a mobile-first solution to event management.
“I’ve always been the technology guy,” Townsend said, referencing his time as chief technology officer at such companies as PayIt, Ad Astra and RFP360. “I think I’ve done that successfully in a few different places, and I felt like it was time to grow myself and actually run the business side of things. I will be involved with the technical side by nature, but I really wanted to try something new.”
Hively aims to be an easy-to-use interface for event management, Townsend said, emphasizing the application’s utility in athletics. On the Hively app, users can manage spaces (such as sports fields, meeting rooms and other public spaces), register for events and look up schedules.
“I used to be a coach for a variety of sports my kids played, and I remember what a pain it was just organizing the schedule,” Townsend recalled — noting that, as a coach, he would have to go through various individual sports leagues to manage his team’s schedule.
“What we’re trying to do is make Hively a comprehensive solution,” he continued. “The leagues will still populate all the games and practices, but the coaches can go into Hively and make changes like rescheduling a practice time.”
For event spaces managed by other entities, like a city or school district, Hively can be used to streamline the process of contacting the right person to reserve the space if needed, Townsend added.
“We want that contact person for the school district to participate in the app as well, and that will cut down a lot on the back-and-forth emails used today to manage those spaces,” he explained. “The sports market can be an interesting one because there are so many parties involved.”
“It’s related to the nature of bees,” Ryan Townsend shared. “Bees own and maintain beehives themselves and that is the image we’re trying to portray. Hively is not a centralized service managed by one employee.”
With the world more plugged into phones and tablets, Hively is set to be a solution optimized for the mobile experience and easy enough “for grandma and grandpa to pull up their grandkids’ most updated schedule whenever they want to go to a game,” Townsend said.
Click here to check out a live demo of Hively on a mobile device.
Taking what he learned from his time at PayIt, Townsend is focused on molding Hively based on consumer feedback and experiences, he said.
“[At Payit we knew] if we [only] try to build a better product than other government software companies, we will fail,” he noted. “[Likewise at Hively] we have to try to build a better product than other consumer-grade products. So we are spending time trying to understand what our users really need.”
As a first-time founder, Townsend is motivated to break some of the traditional startup rules as an experiment, he shared. Rather than having a pitch deck and demo product, the mobile Hively site is the real product with continual updates as the platform develops.
“It’s real code; it’s out there; it’s multi-tenant,” Townsend noted. “And that’s going to be a core part of our ethos — when we put something out there, it’s going to be real. We want to see how the market embraces the things we’ve built.
“… Just because we are not raising money now, does not mean we won’t ever,” he continued. “We’re really fortunate to be in a spot where we can have this partnership.”
Hively is also not starting off with a seed fund round to raise capital, Townsend added. Instead, the platform is utilizing a partnership that allows it to focus on building the product, rather than put efforts into fundraising.
“There’s not a lot I can announce yet, but I can say that we have a well-established SaaS company in Kansas City that is going to utilize our software and be a design and development partner with us as we build out,” he teased. “There’s a high degree of overlap with what we’re doing and what they need.”
Founded in May 2021, Hively is set for its beta launch by the end of the year with a couple sports and recreation spaces, Townsend noted. As the startup’s team continues to grow, he anticipates an official launch in spring 2022.
Townsend is currently one of two full-time employees at Hively, with five other individuals who are moonlighting. Within the next couple of months, he plans to bring on one or two more full-time developers as he spends more time on the business.
“With my role as a business leader, I think it’s going to be a lot different than other CEOs,” Townsend said. “Somebody gave me the advice a long time ago to not spend so much time worrying about your weaknesses that you don’t focus on your strengths.
“I do come from a technical background and have a bit of management experience,” he shared. “I’ve been able to watch the business development side of things grow very effectively, but I’ve never really had responsibility for them. It’s been a new challenge, but it’s definitely the challenge I was up for.”