Durham startup takes one Duke team's needs national with collegiate sports software

The Durham Startup Seen: In the latest installment of our occasional series on startups and entrepreneurship in the Bull City, BCR correspondent Justin Landwehr tells us of a Bull City innovator looking to do for college athletic programs what Blackboard did for campus academics: become an indispensable tool for managing and coordinating the enterprise on and off the field.

Sometimes the best software ideas come from those everyday problems you grudgingly take for granted until that “a-ha” moment happens and you find a way to solve them.

Take Zach Maurides, a Duke graduate and founder of Durham’s Logisitical Athletic Solutions

Standing at 6 feet and 6 inches tall, Maurides played several offensive line positions for the Blue Devils from 2003 to 2007, starting at left guard his final two seasons. He went up against the likes of Virginia’s Chris Long – son of Pro Football Hall-of-Famer Howie Long, and second overall pick of the 2008 NFL draft – and Joe Anoa'i, a defensive tackle from Georgia Tech recently turned professional wrestler who Zach says was the most violent player he faced.

But before Maurides earned the starting role to protect the quarterback, he was helping his football team by developing the first sports communication platform of its kind. And the inspiration came from his own hard-learned experiences.

By his sophomore year, Maurides had experienced first-hand the communication problems that result when coaches, athletic trainers, academic support staff, team operators, and strength and conditioning coaches all vie for an 18 or 19 year-old’s time. 

“I was running a lot of stadium stairs because I would be late for a meeting or I would forget about a study hall. The core of that problem for me was time management. I had so many things to manage and I could not manage them all.” 

That same year, a class project called for students to conceptualize a web application that was in some way a service to others.

Zach Maurides had an idea. 

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City Council votes to approve Durham Place apartment project

Durham_place_apts Another apartment complex is coming to the increasingly-developed area surrounding Duke's West Campus and its rapidly-expanding medical center.

The Durham Place project quickly passed City Council review unanimously, after a similarly uncontroversial hearing before the Durham Planning Commission.

Robinson Everett, Jr. -- son of the Duke Law and rental property scion, who passed away in summer 2009 -- is the property owner of the site, which backs up to several other apartment properties and would be across Kangaroo Dr. from the west Durham post office. The site is also just to the east of the Millenium Hotel.

A future land use map change for the property passed with no Council discussion and no public dissent. 

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Anderson St. gets ready for repaving, bike lanes

Anderson-st Today marks the next step in Durham's rejiggering of central Durham streets to reflect an increased level of support for two-wheelers in accordance with the City's bike and pedestrian plans.

In this case, those two-wheelers move forward while four-wheel vehicles will lose parking spaces.

The City will kick off repaving on Anderson St. between Erwin Rd. and Campus Dr., the stretch that runs through Central Campus and near the Sarah B. Duke Gardens.

37 on-street parking spaces will come out and bike lanes will go in through the stretch, something the City says is another step in reducing greenhouse gases and the university says will help meet the school's own carbon-neutrality plans.

Plus, that's a major thoroughfare for bicyclists, for whom Campus Dr. is also a main artery for buses and bikes between East and West Campus.

The work is expected to last one week with minor vehicular delays; Anderson will also be resurfaced between Morehead Ave. and Duke University Rd. during the same period.


Welcome, student friends, to the Bull City show

This BCR post was originally published on Aug. 21, 2007. In honor of the arrival of Duke first-years today and of NCCU first-years and students last week, we're republishing this here with minor edits for their benefit -- and that of those many daily readers who've started reading BCR since then.

I wanted to dedicate this morning's post to Durham's newest residents -- its fair college students, matriculating at NC Central University or Duke University for the first time, perhaps, or returning for a further year of studies. 

The ride into town is a bit less magical than the Hogwarts Express (please do dodge the potholes, they're not just there for the aesthetics), but once you're here, I hope you'll join in in discovering the great things that the Bull City has to offer.

What's that, you say? There's great things in Durham? Surely I jest, you must think.

Well, I'm not kidding. But I understand where you're coming from. 

In the early 1990s, when I was touring college towns to make my own undergraduate choice, I took a look at Durham and headed right back to I-85. It wasn't until a number of years later that I realized that Durham was the right place for my wife and I to live, the place we felt most at home anywhere we'd lived on the East Coast. (I've chronicled that transformation on this earlier blog post.)

I think one of the most jarring things for many new residents of the Bull City -- particularly those hailing from Long Island, or Newton/Wellesley, or Plano, or Manassas, or the like -- is that Durham doesn't look like suburban America. Everything isn't tied up in neat subdivisions and strip malls, outparcels and freeways. 

Those things exist here, too, but there are actual streets and blocks that haven't (entirely) been torn up for re-development. There are old tobacco and textile factories that haven't been demolished, but instead form the bulk of the skyline.

There are poor people here -- wealthy people, too, but plenty of poor people. And African-Americans and Latinos and Asians and Native Americans, and Caucasians too.

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Taking the Bull City Connector for a ride

Bcc_map The City was kind enough to offer me a chance to sit in on the inaugural ride of the Bull City Connector yesterday morning, though work obligations prevented me from doing so.

But that didn't mean I wasn't excited about the arrival of the service -- or having a new way to move between downtown and Duke.

In the more distant future, Mrs. BCR and I are renovating a house on Gloria Ave. that's just a couple of blocks from the bus line, which promises to provide the in-case-it-rains link I'll need to ditch the car for a walking or transit daily commute in a few months' time.

But even today, as someone who drives in to work at the American Tobacco Campus each weekday, I'm still stuck with an annoying grind every week or so, given the inescapable meetings I have on Duke's West Campus.

Bcc_logo Walk to get a parking pass; find they're all checked out; grovel with administrative assistants for help finding one; call up people with checked-out passes and bargain to borrow one; walk to the parking deck; drive to West Campus, sweating potholes and road crews and traffic surprises upon arrival; look eagerly for a parking space in the lot; hustle to the meeting; return to a hot car; drive back to work.

Fun? Not so much.

So am I ready for a free bus service traveling from Durham Station to Duke's West Campus and back every fifteen minutes during the work day? Oh, yeah.

I decided to check out the ride after work yesterday, and found it to be a convenient, quick way to get around -- definitely a nice addition to downtown.

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Duke lacrosse house now just a memory -- is it enough to help other memories fade?

A couple of years ago, my wife and I came close to making an offer to purchase 1111 Urban Ave., a nicely renovated house at the corner of that Trinity Park cross-street and Buchanan Blvd.

Beautiful kitchen, great layout, sweet back porch and historic touches. The only problem was its backyard view -- of the house that notoriously became a focal point in the Duke lacrosse case.

Lax_house_demolition Like the LAX house, 1111 Urban was one of a dozen or so homes that Duke had worked with local rental real estate maven Guy Solie to buy and resell to owner-occupants or the investors, who had to bring to the table renovation plans and agree to several covenants on their ongoing use, including the promise not to use the dwellings for student housing.

Just as Duke and local neighbors were celebrating the pending transformation of some of the best-known student-focused rental properties, though, the lacrosse mess broke out -- only a few weeks after the university announced their plan to buy and resell rental properties like the lacrosse team house at 610 N. Buchanan.

And there went the neighborhood, for a while, even as the neighborhood's western edge was getting a great shot in the arm.

On Monday, the backyard view from 1111 Urban -- and the painful reminder that could be seen for the last few years from passers-by on Buchanan and on Duke's East Campus walking trail -- just got a lot clearer, as university officials moved to scrape from the Earth the remnants of that structure.

And with that, one key physical memorialization of the event is gone, though the memories aren't.

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Maplewood Square apartments to hold grand opening

Maplewood_square_thumb_3  The neighborhood quilt of revitalization in South-West Central Durham is getting another square knitted in.

Maplewood Square, to be precise. The 32-unit, income-dependent apartment complex for seniors will hold its grand opening on Monday morning.

It's another sign of change in SWCD, where the City, Duke, the Quality of Life collaborative project, Self-Help, the Durham Community Land Trustees and others have collaborated to stabilize the neighborhood, improve the quality of the housing stock, and encourage homeownership.

The apartment complex is fully leased from day one to qualifying seniors -- and neighborhood residents also win with the addition of an adjacent park funded through local foundations, built by volunteers, and maintained by the City going forward.

The one- and two-bedroom apartment units include porches and balconies and modern interiors, and the complex has amenities including a computer/Internet access room, community room with kitchen, and laundry facilities. Rents start at $318 per month and vary by income level. 

The complex was developed by Self-Help and DCLT in collaboration with DHIC, a long-running and respected developer of affordable housing and senior apartments in Raleigh and Cary and of other types of housing throughout the state; this appears to be DHIC's first development in the Bull City.


Free downtown connector bus debuts in August

It's been almost eighteen months since word first came out of a free downtown bus connector/circulator service intended to link downtown and Duke's campus.

And while there's been fretting that tight municipal budgets would put the idea on ice, it's clearly had support from elected officialdom -- standing out, for instance, as being just about the only new service listed in this year's budget guidelines for approval.

Now comes word that the circulator is officially on for summer, just in time for Duke's back-to-school days... something most appropriate given the university's support for the capital expense to buy hybrid buses to eventually run the service, and Duke's promise of ongoing operating support for the service.

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Duke grad student extends foodie cred with Alinea stint, SF bloggin'

Matt_novak By day, Matt Novak is a grad student in biomedical engineering at Duke's Pratt School, with research in the Reichert lab focused on "investigating methods for prolonging the useful life of implantable glucose sensors."

Apparently Novak can't get enough of his own oral glucose sensors -- or saline sensors, or ... is there a fancy-schmancy word for "bitter?" 

Because by night, he's worked as a cook at local Durham restaurants, including a recent part-timer stint at Four Square, the chic Chapel Hill Road establishment that's been part of the Bull City's gourmet mainstream for some time now, something that gives cred to his online profile mention of being "the department's foodie in residence."

But wait -- don't call the 800 number to order yet. There's more.

Novak's spending his limited vacation time away from autoclavery and grad-stu slavery in Chicago, but not hanging out on the Magnificent Mile or washing down suds at Cubs games. 

Instead, he's found a way to do a quick internship at Alinea, ranked by multiple experts as among the very best restaurants in the world.

And he's blogging about it.

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Duke, Bulls to share a championship celebration evening Thu. night

This Thursday night's your chance to see not one, but two Durham national champions on the DBAP's field -- even if one of the two is more accustomed to basketball courts than baseball diamonds.

Duke_nc2010 The NCAA men's basketball champs from Duke and the Minor League Baseball AAA national champion Durham Bulls will share what's being called the Night of National Champions down at American Tobacco and the ballpark.

The men's basketball team will kick things off at 5:30pm beneath American Tobacco's Lucky Strike tower, with Coach K and the team's seniors making remarks to the assembled crowd. (No comments from the peanut gallery on how the last-second three-point miss by Butler would have been a "lucky strike" if it'd gone in -- since for those who aren't Carolina or State fans, it might've been.)

Bulls_champs09 At 6:30, Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo gets his Minor League Manager of the Year award; then, Duke seniors Jon Scheyer, Lance Thomas and Brian ("Zoooouuubb!") Zoubek throw out "ceremonial first pitches" to open the back end of the Bulls away-and-home series with the Norfolk Tides.

The whole Blue Devils team will make it out onto the field in the third inning to take a bow; the National Championship trophy will then be available for viewing afterwards on the DBAP's concourse.

Opening night at the DBAP is sponsored by the Durham Chamber of Commerce.