Once upon a time, in 1782, a boy was walking down the streets of today’s Manhattan, New York. The boy occasionally ran errands for his father, who owned a farm outside of town.
Being too small to handle a horse, he was forced to walk to and from town. This was very energy and time-consuming.
As the boy walked, he thought, “What say I ask the next horse & buggy if they shall cater a ride?”. This thought many years ago by many people was what would evolve into the Taxi industry.
For hundreds of years, horses and buggies were the tried-and-true forms of transportation. It stayed this way until the maturation of the steam engine in the 1800s
Little did horse traders and buggy builders know that the steamy contraption was the beginning of their end. Yet interestingly, the concept of steam power was everywhere.
Steam engines first replaced boat sales, dominated the great railways, and instigated the industrial revolution. You could argue that it birthed the automobile.
An overly giant coke can with hot steam annulated the “horse & buggy” industry. Similar stories are happening today.
For over 100 years, taxi companies dominated the transportation industry. Little did they know that Steve Jobs was the beginning of their end. Not the iPhone, but apps.
Just like the boy walking the dirt streets of today’s Manhattan, New York, in 1782, once upon a time in 2009, Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp thought, “What if people requested taxis with their phones?”
Overnight, taxi companies that were worth millions, and took lifetimes to build, became worth 5 cents to the dollar. Within six months of its founding, Uber’s 2nd evaluation was over a billion dollars.
Technology, the digital realm, is the next new world. Digital land grab is taking place in every industry, and no industry is immune to this land grab. Not even rodeo.
In an industry that severely lacks technological development, Rodeo Results could very well be the future of western sports like Uber was and is to the taxi industry. But unlike Uber and other successful Tech. Companies, the story of Rodeo Results is a little western and will come down to the audacity and aura of a kid.
Angel’s Show & Rodeo Results
Chapter 1). Willoughby
The mornings in Sao Paulo, Brazil, are cool and damp. Over the year, the temperature varies from 55-83F, just south of the equator and 20 miles from the South Atlantic Sea, arguably making it an underrated summer getaway.
For Michael Willoughby, it was another day promoting his mobile app at The Prorelax Tie Down & Calf Roping just outside Sao Paulo. “I was introduced to rodeo when my daughter wanted to take a crack at barrel racing. We borrowed one of grandpa’s old horses out in west Texas and signed up for our first barrel race.”
Willoughby was brought into the industry like every father is. They have a daughter who wants to ride. Some of you reading well know that 1 of 2 things happened here:
1). They got into it, and it was only temporary, or
2). They have no idea what they just got themselves into.
Interestingly for Willoughby, it was about to be both. “It was a short-lived interest for Sydney. When she saw how riders could get dinged up from hitting the barrels, she said, not for me, dad”. Instead, Willoughby took to his interests while watching.
“I was looking around in the stands seeing everyone writing times down with pen and paper, and though surely, they have an app for that. I went to the people running the event, and they said, sir, this is rodeo; we don’t do that here.”
Shortly after, in 2016, Rodeo Results was founded, and the concept was simple. It would be a software rodeo producers could use to broadcast live results to a mobile app. With a $250,000 investment backing, Willoughby began building rodeo results and learning the ways of the industry.
“I may not know rodeo, but I do know business.”, assured Willoughby. Although Foreign to rodeo, he’s a seasoned veteran in business development and operations. His career started in the laboratory sector. A graduate of Stephen F. Austin with a double major in Nursing & Medical Technology. He also served in the army forces as a Combat Medic before and during college.
After college, Willoughby moved to Houston, where he established a small placement firm of Histologists throughout the Texas Medical Center. While building relationships in the TMC, he formed a solid foundation of healthcare knowledge through partnerships with MD Anderson, The DeBakey Heart Center, Baylor College of Medicine, and Methodist and Memorial Healthcare systems.
In 1994, Willoughby was approached by a senior leadership team of Clinical Pathology Laboratories to scale the company beyond the Austin borders. He spent the next ten years scaling CPL throughout the southwest and another ten years as the Senior Vice President at CPL’s Austin headquarters.
During this time, Willoughby successfully created high throughput service units, created a highly successful sales division, presented multiple acquisition opportunities, and fostered the culture that the founders of the company set.
In September 2005, CPL was purchased by Sonic Healthcare. It stands as one of the greatest success stories in the laboratory sector. Although many thanks were given to the folks at CPL, now Sonic Healthcare, Willoughby, left the company in 2015.
“I didn’t like the direction healthcare was going, so I left, and that’s where rodeo results came in. I signed a non-compete agreement, so I had two years to burn and thought, what else am I going to do?” For the next two years, Willoughby worked full-time developing rodeo results
Willoughby began his journey with rodeo results by meeting with key organizations such as USTRA, WSTRA, NBHA, THSRA, TYRA, NLBRA, and others. As he learned and documented along the way, he’d report to his developers building the software.
“We went out of the country to develop rodeo results so our funding would go a little further. They were based out of India, so there were many nights I was up till 1 or 2 in the morning meeting with them.”
Rodeo Results is the first cloud-based web software for western sports that uses a mobile app synergistically. One is nothing without the other. As producers utilize the cloud software to score their events, the data, or placings, is broadcast to the mobile app in real time.
This innovation is nothing new for the rest of the world, but for the western sector, it’s bleeding edge. Within six months of breaking ground, Rodeo Results was operational for scoring each rodeo event type.
“In the beginning, everything was promising. The concept of each event wasn’t difficult to program, and people generally ate it up! Everyone said it was something they wanted and what the industry needed…but I couldn’t get anyone to use it….”
Chapter 2). The Bad
Napoleon and Hitler were influential and experienced leaders who underestimated the brutality of Russian winter, paying the ultimate price for it. The same could be said for almost every software that’s attempted to conquer western sports. They underestimated a unique, quirky, and tricky industry.
In the beginning, Rodeo Results was competitor and spectator centric. Everything created and designed was geared toward them. “Our thinking was if we could get the spectators and contestants backing it, the event organizers would be influenced and pushed to use it,” Willoughby recalled. “That was a mistake.”
Although Rodeo Results could cast live results to its mobile app for contestants and spectators, the problem was that’s all it did. For producers, there wasn’t a substantial benefit to using the software. It added to a producer’s workload vs. aiding it. It was another task, added weight, a producer had to carry.
“I realized we messed up when we demoed the software at an event so the organizer could see it in action. They took to it nicely, but only to ask us to come back next year…The whole point was for them to use the software, not for us to do it for them… they asked us how they would benefit. I thought live results on that app would be enough.”, Willoughby remarked.
This cycle repeated for a year and significantly damaged Rodeo Results’ reputation, leading to negative word of mouth and app reviews from users who paid $4.99 to download the app. Because producers weren’t utilizing the software, no events were listed on the app.
Before it’d get better, it got worse. Rodeo Results took a significant blow when Willoughby returned to his developers in India to course correct. “Over there, cattle are sacred animals, and rodeo is looked down upon. In the beginning, there was slight friction from that, but they came to accept the work. When I returned to change directions, they didn’t like it and raised their prices on me excessively.”
Willoughby declined their price increase. Like a flip of a switch, Rodeo Results went dark. “I had to redevelop it in the states from scratch. I’ll never go out of the country again.”
In early 2018 Rodeo Results was rebuilt and relaunched a second time. But even after the rebuild, Rodeo Results was now fighting an uphill battle and continued facing setbacks.
“I’m not a producer; I know nothing about the production process,” confessed Willoughby. “I started looking for producers to partner with to perfect that side of the software. This was when I learned how fickle the industry was.”
“Everyone saw the potential of the software, no doubt, but it was either no one did what they said they would do or tried taking advantage of the situation. I had one guy to whom I agreed to pay a salary, wrote him his first check, and never heard from him again.” Willoughby’s face was perplexed.
“It’s also very slow-moving. There’s no giddyup, ironically. I’d email someone, and it’d take weeks to hear back from them. Where I’m from, healthcare, it’s rare for days to go by without a response.”
“I learned the industry moves slowly because board members run most organizations and productions…volunteers…producing events wasn’t their livelihood. They all had day jobs. Volunteers will never care like someone who does it for a living, and those environments tend to fester with politics that make it worse.” sighed Willoughby.
“Once I saw that, I knew I had to bring in outside help. I took the app to my neighbor, who at the time was an owner of Yeti. I showed it to them, told them the story, and we came up with an idea.”
In December 2018, Rodeo Results and Yeti worked together to promote the app during the National Finals Rodeo by offering Yeti Coupons & Promos only available on the Rodeo Results app. Yeti would blast Rodeo Results on their social media channels during the NFR.
“I had made connections with people at RFD-TV earlier on. I reached out, telling them what was going on, and they allowed me to sit in their camera booth. I flew out with my laptop and scored the events myself, all from their booth.”
Like a well-executed football play, the offers, promos, and social postings went live on the first night of the NFR. “That’s where we got all our Facebook followers. We went from 500 to over 10,000 likes in one evening. It was crazy!” Laughed Willoughby.
During the first round of the 2018 NFR, Yeti generated over 7500 leads through the Rodeo Results app. “that’s when I knew I wasn’t crazy or chasing fairy dust. I was onto something and needed the right people to see it.”
What appeared to be light at the end of the tunnel was a black hole that took Willoughby’s soul. “They kicked me out during the second round. I don’t know how they found me, but they did, and the next thing you know, I was being escorted out of Thomas & Mack.”
Another factor against Willoughby was the deep political roots in the industry. You could argue that the people who despise politics in rural America are the ones who play it the most.
“That incident did me in. everyone was dumbfounded. We thought about returning for the other rounds, but Yeti didn’t want to risk their relationship with the NFR. I went home”
What started as promising in 2016 turned into a beautiful disaster. After three years and close to $500,000 later, Rodeo Results failed to produce justifiable revenue.
“It was dead in the water going into 2019. I was at my wit’s end with all of it but didn’t want to let it go because of the potential I saw in Vegas with Yeti.”
“My non-compete agreement came up, so I put Rodeo Results aside and went back to healthcare. I started another laboratory while deciding what to do with Rodeo Results. For three months, I contemplated shutting it down. Then I found Gilly.”
Chapter 3). Angel
“I’m in a place in my career where I have a full-time business, breeding & training program, and not to mention, I’m a mom. I’m selective about where I race to make the most of my time in the arena. That’s why I love Go Fast! They’re organized, technologically advanced, probably have the best ground in the country, and the whole thing is a vibe. Rodeo Results amplifies all of it. I can check live results on the app as I’m getting on my next horse or heading home. It’s all next level. “
– Fallon Taylor
7x NFR Qualifier
World Champion Barrel Racer
“There’s already enough nerves and anxiety when it comes to competition. Go Fast takes that away and makes everything easy in ways no one else is doing. The entry system, the app, the energy, it’s like a party! Having a place to check a producer’s draw and live results with Rodeo Results makes everything smoother, more efficient, and fun! We’re there any chance we have for Go Fast.”
– Codi Harman
WPRA Professional Barrel Racer
If you asked a barrel racer who’s been to a Go Fast race, they’d probably blush while cracking a smile as if they’re keeping a dirty secret. In an old-fashioned industry, you can say Go Fast Races is where rural hearts meet an urban swag. They’d tell you it hits differently.
The seclusion of the large white palace-like structure of the Williamson Country Expo Center, away from the rest of Taylor, Texas, is attractive. What feels like a place of refuge from a distance turns into a grand and beautiful introduction upon approach.
As you’re parking or unloading the horse trailer, you’ll eventually hear the feel-good vibes of alternative hip hop and EDM (repeats – Spotify) echoing from the inner part of this palace. You’ll also hear the distinct voice of Gilly Angel. Gilly being his nickname, and Angel, the mass attempt to pronounce his last.
“I met Michael in March of 2019.”, recalled Angel. “I was on the cusp of leaving Go Fast. Like him, I was frustrated with the industry too. I lost hope for it and almost didn’t meet him at all. We had people approach Go Fast with software before, but nothing impressed me. I had zero expectations going into the meeting.”
Angel and his family produce barrel races for the greater Taylor, Texas area. What started as a side hobby in 2017 turned into a full-time venture attracting hundreds, if not thousands, of riders across the country.
Although well known for their progressive music choice, they’re more known for being technology savvy. “Everything we do is online, our entries, horse and rider changes, everything, even during the race. We’re paperless. People enter or make change requests on their phones as they pull up in their trucks or sit in the stands. They never come into the entry office. Even with our admin processes beyond the event, we direct deposit winnings. Everything we do is online”, fact-checked Angel.
Few producers and organizations, even those on a professional level beyond barrel producers, can’t say the same. This is how Go Fast made its name and turned heads in the industry. One of them being Willoughby’s.
“Technically, that’s not true.” Angel Corrected. “Our accountant managing Go Fast also happened to be managing Rodeo Results. They saw how digital we were, told us about Rodeo Results, and connected us to Michael. That’s how the meeting happened.”
“Everything about the meeting was God-sent,” Angel claimed. “Michael wasted no time greeting us. Not even 5 minutes in, my Gilly Boy senses were buzzing. He reminded me of a business conference I’ve attended since 2015 called Thrive.”
“Specifically, he reminded me of Naveen Jain. Naveen is a multi-billionaire that had been a returning speaker at the conference. I’m a dreamer like him, and I resonate with him in that way. At the conference, it’s a thing for the speakers to walk around or have a booth. Naveen always had a booth, and I always said hi. That’s all I could think about sitting in Michael’s office. He had the substance.”
“When Michael started showing us the app, it had the same brand colors as Thrive.” Angel would then cut off Willoughby mid-sentence to ask the left-field question. “Do you happen to know Naveen Jain?” Willoughby would then rotate toward Angel, saying, “I’ve worked with him.”
On June 5th, 2019, the Angel & Willoughby team was official. “Looking back, I didn’t understand how bad of a spot Rodeo Results was in because I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I had zero clue what I was getting into. All I knew was that the app could change the industry in ways people didn’t realize, and Michael needed help. That’s all I knew,” said Angel.
The beginning of the partnership between Angel and Willoughby was strictly service-based. Angel agreed to work with Rodeo Results for a minimum of 2 years to perfect the software for barrel racing. In exchange, he would be given 5% of the company.
“I told Michael I’d work for free. I was embarrassed when he told me his story. No one was helping the man…He was trying to create something amazing, and everyone was either laughing at him or taking advantage of him.”
“When the legal docs were signed, it was a milestone for me. It’s a massive opportunity to work directly with a caliber like Michael. I was 24 at the time and felt I accomplished something few people do at that age. I felt ahead of the game, made great use of my adolescence, and came a long way.”
Angel’s come-up is nothing shy of an adventure tale. Most of his days were spent playing select baseball as a kid. Horses followed shortly after, influenced by his sister. Later he’d come to find a passion for music in middle school band, always falling between 1st & 2nd chair trumpet.
When the housing market crashed in 2008, changes in scenery often made friendships and relationships nonexistent. Having gone to 4 different middle schools and his home life in the rural middle of nowhere, Angel’s social life transitioned online with Xbox Live. Here, he embraced a secret passion, Halo.
“Many people don’t know I was deep into esports before esports was esports. I went to a charter school with 4hr school days so I could invest more time playing. That’s how much I loved it.”
From 2008-2013 Angel competed in online Halo 3 tournaments and went on to play at a Semi-Pro/Pro level. With over 14 million active online players, tournaments would stack between a minimum of $250k to $1mm+ in prize payouts.
“I’m low-key proud of that to this day. That was the first time something was challenging for me. It was the first time I had to put something into real practice. Everything I’ve ever done came naturally and turned to silver or gold. This was different. It was hard. I learned what it tasted and felt like to sweat.” In 2013, the competitive halo scene died. Angel “retired” from competitive gaming.
After graduating high school, his college defiance landed him the first-class gig in car sales, where he honed his knack for people. With no passion for cars, he transitioned into phone sales for Six Pack Shortcuts, a fitness company out of Austin.
Here Angel climbed the sales ladder, his sales skills hitting their apex. In his best fiscal quarter, he landed just shy of $300,000 in gross sales, putting him into the top 5 at the company and qualifying him for the company’s NASM Certification Program, of which he was later certified.
“Fitness has been a staple for me since high school. Football had me in the weight room twice a day. The NASM certification was one of the reasons I went to work for Six Pack. The company paid for the certification if you hit a certain sales threshold. Working for a company that embraced fitness like that was awesome.”
Angel continued to climb without hesitation, creating relationships in other company departments. Through doing so, he grew a keen awareness of business systems and processes. This knowledge and experience would go on to open unforeseen doors. “So, you know that business conference I mentioned earlier?” asked Angel.
“From 19 to 23, Thrive was my equivalent to a college education. My logic was that if kids borrowed $50k+ for college, I could stomach the $5000 for a ticket and surround myself with rich people. So, I did.”
“I was in Tai’s 67-step program back in the day before I was in sales. His program was why I went into sales and to that very conference. Like Naveen, I grew a ‘conference’ relationship with him over the years. We were small talking, and it turned out that Tai knew the owner of Six Pack, and when he realized I worked for him and who I was, the conversation changed instantly. We exchanged numbers, and he flew me out three months later. It was surreal and a highlight of my life. I still have the plane tickets as mementos.”
“That period of my life was crazy. So much happened so fast that I didn’t realize what I was accomplishing…I was absorbing everything like a sponge and would immediately move on to the next goal without recognizing anything… It wasn’t till years later that I realized how much I had learned and grown…It was an amazing time of my life. I wish I lived in the moment with a little more.”
At the end of 2016, Angel resigned from sales. “You know how when you’re young, and you’re determined to prove to people you’re worth something? I had that bad, and early on, I felt not only sales, but the fitness industry as well, wasn’t all it’s cracked out to be”
“Being young, I ignored those signals and threw myself into the work because I hated the idea of not having something to speak for myself. Yes, I was successful, but I wasn’t happy. I didn’t appreciate what I was doing, and that’s the part people didn’t see. Success doesn’t mean anything if you don’t thoroughly enjoy what you do or have anyone to share it with. It’s one thing to hear that. It’s another thing to live it.”. Six Pack Shortcuts liquidated in 2018.
In April 2017, Angel backtracked, moved home, and soul-searched part-time at Starbucks. “It wasn’t even soul searching as much as it was therapy. I was exhausted. I had put my head down for four straight years and didn’t look up…Making lattes was therapeutic for me, haha! For 3-6 months, I was decompressing and recovering mentally.”
During this period, Angel assisted with Go Fast, where his growth streak would unexpectedly continue to capitalize and where he would become a critical piece to a much greater puzzle. “It wasn’t anything I took seriously in the beginning. I was just passing the time. When I became fully aware of how run-down the industry was, professionally and technologically, that’s when shit got real, and my compulsive focus returned. I knew my family, and I could rock the boat in ways no one else could. For me, it was digital.”
Angel would develop the inner workings of Go Fast for the next two years. “The goal was to be 100% digital. I touched everything from social media marketing to web development and brought my knowledge of systems and processes from Six Pack into play.”
Angel’s development was most noticeable in the online entering processing for contestants. “I wanted to create an entering process that was seamless. Something that made people go, wow! Most 3rd party entry systems are horrid, in my opinion. I knew it would be a talking point with people for word of mouth. I knew people would talk.”
Where most 3rd party entry systems are dated, non-user-friendly, and aesthetically unpleasing, the Go Fast entry system was simple, easy, and clean. “To this day, we get compliments on how minimal our entering process is. Making things fun and easy with a personalized touch goes a long way.” Said, Angel.
Angel made other advancements that positively impacted Go Fast, including Direct Deposit of winnings, automating the W9 & Waiver collection process, and creating an email newsletter with currently 14k subscribers nationwide. In addition, he grew into the personality, aura, brand, and vibe behind Go Fast.
“I feel Go Fast was my basic training for Rodeo Results. Rodeo Results was a whole new ball game and level. It’s been a crucible. It’s changed me.”
Chapter 4). Recovery
With no traction, funding, negative reviews, negative word of mouth, and only what could be afforded out of pocket, Angel was a last-ditch effort to recover Rodeo Results. “There were many nights I thought this was it. This is my opportunity.”
“It’s either I was going to make it work or not. I had to bring everything I had to the table. I went into what I call the time capsule. Every other aspect of my life stopped. I sidelined my physical health, mental health, relationships, hobbies, everything. I went into a compulsive focus. The goal was to create the most user-friendly & intuitive platform for both producers and contestants the industry had ever seen.”
“Rodeo Results was a beautiful disaster,” described Angel. “When I looked under the hood, the live results only worked with round-based formats for rodeos. Divisions didn’t even exist for barrel racing… There were no live results for divisional barrel races….”
Immediately out of the starting gate, where the first year of the partnerships was hoped to be of growth and progress, Angel instead halted all development. “Yeah, Michael and I butted heads real quick, haha! There was so much wrong with the software he didn’t see because he didn’t know what he didn’t know, and no one in the industry had the technical knowledge to tell him different…For the first six months, I had to wrap my head around what did or didn’t work and the overall design so I could navigate decisions. Rodeo Results couldn’t afford missteps. Every decision had to be right.”
During this time, Angel flipped Rodeo Results on its head and inside out in every aspect. Within the six months, he course corrected the platform from being contestant-centric to producer-centric. Contestants were no longer the priority; producers were. The mobile app and web software were made free to access, and barrel racing would be the new flagship event for the platform, not rodeos.
“The producers are the ones with the power, not contestants,” educated Angel. “If we could condense a producer’s job into Rodeo Results in a simplistic way, everything else would follow. Moving forward, if it didn’t benefit producers, we didn’t build it.”
“Making the app and web software free was damage control. Pro Tip: Charging for nonfunctioning software will give you a bad reputation…I know…wild…hahaha! It gave us air to breathe. Michael, at the time, was so fixated on generating revenue that he almost didn’t care how. Me coming in as a 24-year-old kid changing everything wasn’t comfortable for him. It was the opposite of everything he was doing.”
By March 2020, Angel had led contract developers that successfully created a divisional-based format for barrel racing and other timed-based events along with other core features. “We built a lot in a short period. All the core features a producer needed were built but with many bugs and quirks. The next challenge was making all of it seamless. It’s one thing to have software features functioning. It’s another thing for those features to be sewed together smoothly and seamlessly from the start to finish of a producer’s process.”
In May of 2020, Covid took full effect, shutting down all western sporting events. “I don’t know what to think of covid. It sucked because development stopped again but at the same time gave me space to marinate with what Rodeo Results could truly be.”
“Michael is in the genetics space. Imagine registering horses through the app…Michael could send people a DNA kit for their horse, and they send it back…We could do what takes AQHA six months or longer in two weeks…this is something I want to try and do as a long-term goal. It would change everything” Angel smiled.
That wasn’t all mad scientist Angel thought of. During the months of the covid lockdowns, more significant changes were made. “We turned the app into a social network. Not only can you see live results, but you can follow other riders and get notifications when they’re timed or scored. We also used the advertisement concept with yeti and made it a platform-wide feature.”
Now, any producer that used Rodeo Results could sell sponsorships or advertisements as Willoughby did with Yeti. In other words, producers can place ads directly on the mobile app where the live results are for their events and generate revenue for themselves.
“No other software platform offers that kind of opportunity for producers. The ads link anywhere online. When you show a potential sponsor or advertisers that they can link their website on the app where the live results are, where everyone’s eyes are, it sells itself and is a money maker.”
In November 2020, Angel would put Rodeo Results to the ultimate test at the Thanksgiving Classic, an annual 3-day barrel race held at the San Antonio Rose Palace, produced by him and his family. “That race was huge. It was an American Qualifier, and people were eager to race with all the shutdowns. The facility Had over 500 horse stalls and sold out three months in advance…it was the perfect revival opportunity for Rodeo Results.”
“I was and always am optimistic, but that was the first time we’d have more than two people operating within the software simultaneously, so I was anxious. What many software developers don’t understand about our sport is that producers deal with a tremendous amount of nuances…you can’t just artificially test what we do…you have rider changes, horse changes, draw-outs, entry additions, new entries, and let’s not forget the mistakes we the producer make because of the fact we’re managing all of this information…now add the riders time into the mix and the chaos of the event….”
“It’s a lot to keep up with. It’s data that must be accounted for and manipulable all on one screen before and during the event…if we wanted the software to be good, that is…the only way to see if Rodeo Results would hold its own in that way was to test it in a live environment. Thanksgiving Classic.”
A day before the first race day, Rodeo Results was already spurring problems. The draw manager started “glitching,” with every action taking a handful of seconds to register within the software.
“We were prepared and had our engineers ready and on call. We had over 600 entries for that Saturday and were still processing more into the draw. The developers confirmed it was a loading issue with the raw amount of data we were inputting into the draw manager. That’s when my gut sank. That’s not something you just fix in an evening.”
Rodeo Results failed to operate during the Thanksgiving Classic. “I didn’t know what to do, say or think……ever since I partnered with Michael, my emotions had been tested in ways they never have before…I had turned into the face of Rodeo Results; everyone knew me and was watching…I had a moment where I shut down but had to snap out of it because I was announcing the event. I couldn’t just stop. That’s when the switch flipped.”
“Gilly was Satan pissed,” recalled Willoughby. “In the two years working with you, I’d never seen you that out of character. I think that was the moment you realized we were fighting a behemoth. You weren’t the same after that weekend.”
“I was over a lot of shit,” responded Angel. “I always knew we needed better engineers, but everything was being paid out of pocket, and I’m no millionaire. Michael wasn’t willing to fund better engineers until I turned into a dick at thanksgiving. I was over trying to make a Honda Civic run like a Ferrari.” They both laughed.
Rodeo Results had outgrown the abilities of its more armature engineers pushing Willoughby and Angel to find better ones and bite a bigger cost bullet. Finances had been an obstacle since the beginning of the partnership and had always loomed in the background.
“I was exhausted,” Willoughby pleaded. “I had already put close to $500k into it, $250k of that being mine, before Gilly was even involved. When it was apparent that more was needed, I said, fine, but we’re going the cheap route…I wasn’t willing to fork out more money like that, and Gilly doesn’t have finances as I do, so it just made sense.”
Angel concurred. “I hated the fact I was the weakest link financially. Thanksgiving Classic woke me up to that and pushed me to take a bigger financial risk.”
Willoughby and Angel took a calculated leap and broke ground on optimizing Rodeo Results with an expert-level engineer, jumping from $20 an hour to $150 an hour in cost. “I had $5000 available on a credit card, and based on our operating agreement, Michael was responsible for $7500, totaling $12,500 to work with.”
From December 2020 to April 2021, Rodeo Results’ codebase was completely gutted and revamped. During this time, Angel designed a more intuitive User Interface and curated ways to generate more funding.
“The $12,500 wasn’t enough. When the new engineer got into the code, he made us aware of how neglected the platform was by the previous engineers. There was much refactoring that was needed to accomplish what we wanted.”
“I had to find a way to make money fast,” pondered Angel. “We were doing everything the right way now, and it simply cost a shit load. It was money I didn’t have. Thinking of what I could do, I thought of my entry system with Go Fast.”
In January 2021, while Rodeo Results was being refactored, Angel took a gutsy risk and funded a separate and covert project to enhance the Go-Fast entry system. “I didn’t tell anyone because I had to use the money I was supposed to pay the new engineer. If I had told people, they would’ve stopped me. If I were to have just paid the engineer, we’d be dead in the water from lack of funding.”
“It was an industry-known fact that we had the best entering system for contestants. I knew if I could offer that to other producers, it would be the money machine rodeo results needed.” Calculated Angel.
The idea was to facilitate online entry fee payments for other 3rd party producers through the Go-Fast system. Through facilitating payments, Angel would receive a percentage of each transaction.
In February 2021, the new and enhanced Go-Fast entry system went live. “That’s when life got crazy,” Angel smiled. “I didn’t know how much time I had to make money back or if any of it would be successful. I started hammering the phone and direct messaging producers on Facebook and didn’t stop. I had my back against the wall.”
Chapter 5). The Crazy
In mid-March, five producers were actively using the Go-Fast entry system. By April, when the refactoring of Rodeo Results was complete, it was seven.
Willoughby and Angel not only paid for the refactoring project, making Rodeo Results the best it’s ever been to date but now had a machine to fund further development at an expert level. “The refactoring project made rodeo results a night and day difference.”, awed Angel. “It started becoming what I had always envisioned. We were finally at a place where we could go on the offensive with development.”
Between April and November of 2021, Angel continued working with the engineers in optimizing Rodeo Results in preparation for the Thanksgiving Classic that year. “I had debilitating anxiety from everything going on and needed to take a step back to breathe. We decided to hold off on new development. Instead, we took a fine-tooth comb through every part of Rodeo Results. The goal was not to repeat what happened at Thanksgiving Classic in 2020.”
Meanwhile, Angel passively continued onboarding producers onto the Go-Fast entry system. “The entry system sold itself. The producers got their payments directly, as did I. It was all automated. I tailored their entry forms specific to their events and managed everything for them.”
By November 2021, twenty-three producers across the country were actively using the Go-Fast entry system. By March 2022, it would increase to thirty-four. In its first year of production, the Go-Fast entry system facilitated over $1.1 million in entry fees.
“The best decision I’ve ever made was not going to college. My second-best decision was pulling the trigger on that project…it more than paid for itself and saved Rodeo Results. Every penny we’ve made from that went into Rodeo Results and still does.”
At the Thanksgiving Classic 2021, almost three years after the beginning of Willoughby’s & Angel’s partnership, Rodeo Results operated seamlessly at a grand scale for the first time. While staring out a window from where we were interviewing, smiling, “It was an amazing moment,” reminisced Angel.
He paused to gather his thoughts. Bring his left index finger’s knuckle to his mouth, covering his lower lip, exposing his top, thumb hiding under his chin; he stated, “Rodeo Results is the hardest thing I’ve ever done….” He continued staring out the window.
“We had three people operating in the draw manager simultaneously, not missing a beat. It worked like a dream. I wanted to give everyone a high-five, but I was announcing. Like last year, I couldn’t just stop. I sat there, watched the software and people using their phones, wondering if they were using the app.”
“Few people knew that was a triumphant moment. I told these two kids working with me, Holly & Cole, I made that, pointing at my laptop screen. They probably thought I was bragging or nothing of it…I was celebrating.”
“That evening, we posted the final results to the app within 2 mins of the last runner…With 500+ entries, that’s unheard of…I wasn’t even expecting that….We all got to sleep that night.”
With a planned marketing campaign behind Rodeo Results that led up to and during the event, the mobile app landed just shy of 1300 downloads for the weekend, sending a ripple through the industry. “We had an American Qualifier again, so people were watching from all over. They were screenshotting the app and posting it to Facebook. All I saw was Rodeo Results scrolling through Facebook in my hotel that night.”
It wasn’t till mid-December when Rodeo Results started to see a faint ripple effect. “We get notifications when producers create an account on Rodeo Results, and one day I was sitting in the study at home and got a notification…. a day later I got another…. then another…then I started getting direct messages from producers with questions….”
Intuitively and heavily, Angel signaled green lights for all development projects sitting completed but idle in concept and design. “During my downtime from April to November, I had designed mockups for a handful of features that would change the standards of event software.”
“They were big projects. Not just as projects but big in what it meant for me to press that little red button. It wasn’t about recovering anymore. I saw that and wanted to wait until after Thanksgiving for the right time to press that button. To make sure it’s what I wanted.”
On December 31st, 2021, at 11:46 pm, Angel sent “Greenlight. let’s go” across the Rodeo Results Slack channel to his engineers. “Sending that message was emotional for me. That whole week going into the new year was emotional. Professionally and personally. Sending that message meant leaving one world and arriving in a new one.”
In March 2022, an update to monetize Rodeo Results went live, along with other additions, including automatic BBR reporting and advanced push notifications that notify registered app users of draw postings, their scores/times, and final results. For $75 per event, or $45 a month billed annually for unlimited events, producers can use the Rodeo Results platform, their first event free to try. In the first month, and for the first time, Rodeo Results generated over $4000 in revenue.
By May, the first iteration of the Rodeo Results entry system was introduced, with payment processing added later in August. It’s the first entry system for western sports to reside natively on a mobile application. It mimics the revenue model from the Go-Fast entry system, which was later moved to the Rodeo Results ecosystem. The Go Fast entry system lives on under the Rodeo Results brand for producers who want a more tailored entering process and experience for their contestants.
Mid-June, from its embarrassing 1-star, Rodeo Results surpassed a 4-star rating in the app store, with google play not far behind. They’re currently in the concept and design stage for an Average and Carryover function and exploring what Rodeo Results could look like as a more prominent social network for western sports. They’ll soon be making their way back to Rodeo events. If you’re a rodeo producer, you can follow their updates for Rodeo-based events here.
Rodeo Results is currently being used by producers in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, Washington, Michigan, and Organ. Other parts of the globe include British Columbia, Alberta, Canada, and Australia.
Chapter 6). Changes
“Rodeo Results is the best it’s ever been because of Gilly. Working with him showed me that the western industry isn’t what I thought. It’s very run down and neglected. God forbid if you dream or want to be successful in it. It’s an industry that eats its own, and I saw it happen to Gilly and his family. That’s not my cup of tea, nor will it change my life financially. But it could change Gilly’s if he’s willing to fight that giant.” In July, Willoughby resigned.
“Michael had wanted out since 2020. I’d been making all the decisions. It wasn’t worth his time. He’s very successful and is frying bigger fish. The western industry didn’t meet those standards for him. He also has three kids in college he wants to spend time with. I had bought another partner out in 2020, so it was just him and me. It was a matter of finding someone willing to buy him out and sweat like I was. That didn’t happen.” On August 12th, 2022, Angel signed as the new majority stakeholder and managing member of Rodeo Results LLC.
“It’s nothing to brag about,” ordered Angel. “It’s not what people think it is. It’s a heavy responsibility and not one I’m truly ready for. I’m just the only one willing to try…I’d be stupid not to….so here I am…
Angels’ ability to navigate the recovery of Rodeo Results was unprecedented. Only 28, his ingenuity is a fraction of what it’ll become in the years and decades to follow. So much so that it’s captured the attention of a giant. Apple.
“I tried getting a day job to aid our funding problem with Rodeo Results but stopped when I started that risky entry system project. Long story short, I had put Rodeo Results on my resume, and Apple reached out to me on Indeed about a new department they’re building and wanted me to apply.”
“Rodeo Results isn’t going anywhere. But it’ll be a 5+ year journey to grow into the behemoth I know it can be, and I need a break. I didn’t go to college. I’ve been sprinting since I was 18. I’m a personality that believes I deserve better than everyone but, at the same time, constantly questions if I’m enough. Because of that, I tend to focus compulsively and block everything out. During the period of buying Michael out, there was a moment I realized I could stop sprinting…that I could slow down… That next day Apple contacted me.”
What was supposed to be a 3-round interview ended up being 2. In August of 2022, Apple offered Angel a full-salaried position. “I accepted. Apple doesn’t casually hire just anybody. I’m honored. I’m going to let other people drive Rodeo Results for a bit. Rodeo Results is on its feet. That was my job. My job is done. There are people in place that will take care of it…I’m moving the hell out, bro, hahaha!” We all laughed.
Angel has sprouted something never conceived before by an industry. A social network for western culture facilitated by western sporting events. A platform that would scale western sports to a global level, booming the industry exponentially. A scale the industry has never seen.
“The biggest thing holding the industry back is its way of thinking. In order to get where you’ve never been you have to do things you’ve never done…It’s getting people in the industry to be more ambitious, think bigger, and understand that technology is not the problem, but the answer. Software is the only thing that’s capable of scaling an industry like ours. The beauty of Rodeo Results is that it’s decentralized. We’re not a sanctioning scheme trying to force people to do things a certain way. That’s a big bottleneck in the industry right now. We’re the industry of acronyms because everyone thinks they can do it better, and it’s preventing the industry from growing. Many people don’t see that…Being a producer is like owning a Specs liquor store. You’ll never move the liquor industry by being a stand-alone store. It doesn’t matter how much liquor you offer.”
“No stand-alone producer or event, not even Ruby or Pink buckle, will ever be capable of moving this industry. It doesn’t matter how much money you throw at a race. But we can build software, a tool, that facilitates the culture itself…that facilitates registering horses, selling horses, finding trainers, finding events, tracking career stats for horses and riders…that’s what Rodeo Results is…It’s a digital concrete foundation for the industry to stand on that allows the macro-micro-producers and communities to operate how they want while being connected to the industry on the app…it’s so much more than just software….it’s a digital ecosystem for our industry like Amazon is for shopping…I know…wild… it’s why Apple hired me, Baha!” peacocked Angel
Angel’s vision of Rodeo Results is grand. But is it grand enough to influence an industry from its old ways? Is it grand enough to transcend above the small-mindedness and petty politics that infests the industry?
“That’s why I need a break. Before going to Apple, I thoroughly outlined a manifesto-like report of everything needing to happen to Rodeo Results, and it’s in motion. It’s just a matter of time now. If shit hits the fan and entities try to stop Rodeo Results, I’ll come back. Till then, I’m going on vacation to Apple.”
“I’m single, young, and have no kids. I’ve never had a life of my own. Many people don’t know or understand that. I haven’t been in a healthy place mentally for a long time, and it’s taken a toll. I need space, time, and a girlfriend, haha! I’ve never had a salaried position before, and I feel like a kid on Christmas with it. I’m thankful and happy to be an Apple.”
“Ever since Thanksgiving Classic in 2021, things have started changing. I’ve slowly come out of that time capsule I mentioned earlier. It’s like being released from a mental prison. I can let my mind go where it wants and breathe.”
“…I’m going to try and recover relationships I sidelined when Rodeo Results came around…try and clean up some good blood I spilled…That’d be nice…to tell them where I went…show them what I’ve built.”
The actual story of Rodeo Results has just begun. Is it a fad, or, like horses and buggies, is this the beginning of an end for the old ways of an industry?
Only time will tell. Talking about ideas is easy and peaceful. Making fundamental changes is uncomfortable and violent. There are many who talk and have messages of inspiration. There are few who make changes.
Angel is no messenger. He makes things happen. But can he change the minds of an industry? Or could we be witnessing the precursor of a western tech giant?
Angel’s Show & Rodeo Results
By Granite Media Partners
By Gilly Angel
I’ve tortured myself, fearing I wouldn’t be accomplished. The hysteria, fight, and disarray have taken a toll…Things are happening, though…Great things.
There’s no hysteria or disarray anymore. Only fight. That’s where politics in this industry have a big problem.