HCHSA Insider: Sam McGuffie moves on to next challenge
Sam McGuffie doesn’t stand still. Never has, never will.
There’s always at least one challenge – maybe two – in front of him. Something that’s he thought about doing, something that just sounds too interesting not to explore.
Some hill he just has to climb.
This, after all, is a guy who would try anything growing up. He taught himself gymnastics as a kid and kept right on going through a résumé that included football, baseball, karate, hockey, surfing and BMX cycling.
And did we mention that last February, the former Rice running back added Olympian to that list?
Yes, McGuffie was flying down the Olympic track in Daegwallyeong, South Korea for the USA in the two- and four-man bobsled events. He finished 25th in two-man with Cody Bascue and ninth in the four-man.
Then, when he stopped by on a quick 24-hour trip to Houston, we found out he was off to play Rugby Sevens and was contemplating a turn at speed skating.
“I just like challenges,” he said. “A jack of all trades and a master of none. I champion that term very well.”
Don’t let him fool you. He masters them, too.
Currently, the 29-year-old is working on his MBA at Rice and still thinking about rugby, speedskating and maybe one of the new football leagues while he’s climbing his next hill — software.
McGuffie and lifelong friend and tech whiz Nasser Khazendar are developing software solutions for remote online notarization. Through their company ProNotary, they hope to capitalize on the recent changes to the laws concerning remote notarization and they are the first company to offer software and service solutions
Translation? Their software will allow companies — and notaries — to offer the option of taking care of notarized paperwork for clients without traveling into the office.
What did he know about all this before teaming up with Khazendar? “Not a lick,” he said, chuckling.
McGuffie and Khazendar grew up on the same street and have been friends since third grade. They played football in junior high, but McGuffie stayed in sports and Khazendar went into computers and founded a cloud hosting company — Kazila — when he was 17. He has worked in the industry since and founded a data center management company — L20 Technologies. Now this.
“I used to throw rocks at his window when we were kids, telling him to get off the computer and his parents would make him come play with me because they wanted him off the computer,” McGuffie said. “I’d make him take bike rides all around miles.
“And he ends up being a tech wizard. We’re kind of like the oddballs.”
He laughed. And it works.
Khazendar read about the law changes and brought the opportunity to McGuffie jumped on board and can now talk notarization laws and software with the best.
“There’s 1.25 billion notarizations done each year,” he said. “When we saw that … What! That’s an insane amount of documents. Now there is a solution — an easier way to get things notarized.”
The pair spent a lot of time with folks Rice’s LILIE (Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship) and The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, who helped them with business and marketing strategies.
“It’s been a wild ride for me,” said McGuffie. “It’s a total 180 for me. I go from 180 to 180 to 180. I don’t even know where I’m pointed right now.”
Oh, he does. Really.
This weekend, he’s taking a break to go up to Texas A&M- Commerce and help his former Rice head coach and current Lions head coach David Bailiff with spring drills.
“I can’t wait to see what’s going on and help out in any way I can,” McGuffie said. “You know I love Coach Bailiff. He’s the nicest man in the history of people.”
McGuffie got a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Rice and has taken advantage of a USOC program to work on his MBA. Although he’s taking a little time away from academics now, he holds a 4.0 GPA with nine classes left. And as for training? He did injure his knee playing Rugby Sevens but is healed up and working hard in the gym.
“If I don’t work out, I’ll go cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs,” he said. “I’m still pretty explosive and work on box jumps and things. I see which different ways I can hurt myself.”
Yes, he’s kidding — about the last line.
And, even with the business and school, trust us, he will find time for sports. Will it be the SaberCats? The XFL? Speed skating?
Who knows? What he does know is he’s stayed close with his Olympic teammates and is thinking about making a run in 2022. He won’t have to make a decision and get serious for another year, but one thought is out of the question. He’s ditched the dream of being a driver. He’ll stay a pusher.
“On a scale of 1 to 10 of how good a driver I am?” he said. “I’m about a zero. I’m trying to apply the same instant movement to the bobsled — let’s just turn left. You have to anticipate. You have to know the track so well you start turning before you see the turn coming.”
Right now, he’s content to just offer advice to girlfriend Logan Wudi, who is competing in the skeleton regionals in Lake Placid. Wudi, who once trained at the same gym with Simone Biles, is a senior Oklahoma and was on “America’s Next Olympic Hopeful.”
“She’s up there heading head-first down the ice,” he said. “It’s her first competition and it’s pretty exciting. I sent her two videos today to help her with pushing.”