CoachUp is an online platform connecting athletes with private coaches. It offers private and group coaching lessons and training courses for local sports. It was founded in 2011 and is based in Newton Upper Falls, Massachusetts.
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CoachUp is included in 1 Expert Collection, including a16z Marketplace 100.
a16z Marketplace 100
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Latest CoachUp News
Dec 22, 2022
Funding round to date: “We're fully self-funded.” Who are your investors? “We’ve raised a small amount from family and friends, about $10,000. The rest is bootstrapped by myself and my wife, Elaine, to run the company.” Are you looking for more investment? “Eventually, but not right now.” Tell us about yourself, founder Gene Williams: “I played college basketball at Johns Hopkins University and played overseas for a year in Ireland. When I came home, I got a job in tech at a real estate company. I always missed the game of basketball, so as my way of getting back involved I started doing one-on-one private coaching. I just found a real love for helping the next generation of athletes get better on the court while mentoring them. As I was doing that, I realized there weren't many apps, websites meant to help private coaches grow their business. I wanted to create something that would easily connect kids, parents and coaches in one marketplace and make the process a lot easier for coaches to find new clients. Athletes Untapped was born from that idea. I have experience doing coaching, but nothing was out there to help me grow my business. That's where it all came from.” Who are your co-founders/partners? “My wife, Elaine Williams. She has a similar background to me. She played soccer at Temple and does a lot of private coaching. We put our heads together and built this over the last few years. Our other main partner would be my former college teammate, Matt Chiusano. He worked at Overtime and Under Armour and has a great sports background, so we brought him onto the team.” How does your service work? “The service is really a matchmaking platform between parents and coaches. When parents hop onto athletesuntapped.com, they can search for — we have at this point 10 sports, really in the Philadelphia area — Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, and they pick their zip code. When they pick their sport, pick their zip code and search, it pulls up a list of all the private coaches we have in that specific area. From there, they can read their bios, read their background, reach out to them to either get a sense for what they're all about or just from the website, book training sessions and begin working as soon as that day. It's a marketplace for people to find coaches, essentially.” What problem is your company solving? “I’d say two things. First is the availability for coaches. A lot of times parents don't know where to go to find a coach. It's not like we're reinventing the wheel with private coaching, it's been happening for decades, but finding a reliable coach that is vetted, has the right background and will work with your kid. If you don't have a marketplace that showcases all of that for the coaches, it's really tough for parents to know where to look. We're solving that problem. For the kids, beyond that, it's helping them take the next step in their athletic careers because a lot of times we see kids that are maybe really talented, but they only play against kids their own age and are not really getting challenged. When you work with a private coach who has experienced and knows what they're doing, it can really help the kid take their game to the next level and be a mentor for them throughout the entire process. It helps young athletes on their journey. We're making it easier for parents to find coaches but then once they actually meet, helping young kids actually get better at sports and improve their lives because of it.” What does your product cost and who is your target customer? “It's not really up to us. All of our coaches are technically 1099s, so they set their own rate. It ranges from $30 an hour all the way up to low hundreds an hour, depending on the coach and their experience. Our target customers are the parents of sports focused-kids. The age range for the athletes is from six to 17, with the sweet spot really being elementary and middle school. Parents can sign up for free, and then we just take a cut of every session booked through the site.” How are you marketing your product? “We do a bunch of things. We pay for Facebook and Instagram ads, just to reach people. We have partnerships with different nonprofits and organizations that have access to parents and kids that want private coaching. Beyond that, it’s word of mouth. We're trying to do referrals with parents and coaches. It’s kind of slowly but surely picking up our user base just based on being out there. The quality of the coaching staff speaks for itself. If you get the right people with the right experience, who played at college or pro levels, eventually parents are going to find it.” Users can inquire about working with a coach through Athletes Untapped's messaging system. How do you scale, and what is your targeted level of growth? “We scale by adding more sports and bulking up the number of coaches. Let’s take it back to last year at this point. We launched in 2021 fall/winter, it's only been about a year in business. We started out with just basketball and soccer, so really small. Those are our two main sports. Initially, we had about five coaches for each at the very, very beginning until we got those numbers up to about 15-20 for both basketball and soccer. Over the last six months, we launched the next eight sports and as of now we have about five to 10 coaches for each of those sports. As we add more coaches, we just were able to serve that many more parents because parents want it to be local. We get a lot of questions from parents saying, ‘I love the idea, but I don't want to drive more than 10-15 minutes for a coach.’ We try to find coaches in each little subset of Montgomery County, Bucks County, Philadelphia County, West Chester, just to make sure parents can have someone that's close enough to them, while still having a high-quality coach. It's a lot of recruiting. Once we get the coaches set in those areas, it's easier to expand because parents are willing to go around the corner for private coaching.” Who are your competitors, and what makes you different? “We really have two buckets of competitors. The main one is CoachUp, they're a similar idea and started in 2013. They connect parents and kids with private coaches. The biggest tech difference we have is that we have a video feedback platform, which CoachUp does not. We're building it out through the app now, which is going to look great in a couple of months. But technically coaches and parents can sign onto the website and upload sessions and snippets of their training sessions, where the coach can then go on afterward and leave feedback, so the kids know what to work on when they're home. Say if it's basketball and they were training the kid’s shot and the elbow was sticking out and the coach tried to teach him to bring it in for the next time, he'll be able to see that when he gets home by having that video feedback component built into athletesuntapped.com. CoachUp doesn’t have that and we do, which goes a long way for the kids and the coaches to show they're making progress and to have tools that help them on their journey. Besides that, a lot of coaches try to promote themselves on Facebook, Craigslist, their own website. It's probably solo coaches that don't have access to a platform or haven't signed up for something yet. A lot of coaches say they’re already built up or established. It's up to us to prove that we can find more leads for them and actually help them grow their business outside of just doing it themselves.” What’s the unfair advantage that separates your company? “There’s two parts. The first one is the people. We only recruit the highest quality coaches. We try to find a mix of experience too, so some of our coaches are college athletes and they're probably a little bit cheaper for the parents. Some are college coaches, which might charge a little bit more if they have a lot of experience. Some are pro athletes and they charge a lot. But parents can go on the site and find a huge range of coaches, which really helps us. It's not a few. We try to offer a wide range of people. Beyond that, it's just the customer support we offer. We're super dedicated to this. If a parent reaches out about having us help them find the coach, then within a couple hours we give them a really detailed response on who they should work with, their price range, where they can go. The reason we do that is because we love what we do. We want kids to get better at sports, we want to find them coaches and mentors. We're passionate about it and that really goes a long way in customer support.” What milestone have you recently hit or will soon hit? “We just hit 200 coaches on the platform, which is a big number since we only had about 10 at this point last year. It comes down to the coaches. The more we add, we've seen the more parents we can find and the more kids we serve.” Beyond the pandemic, what obstacles has your company had to overcome? “It's growing this the right way. A lot of startups and startup founders I talked to, they try to be everything for everybody all at once. We've had to be patient in that we're trying to build it the right way organically from the beginning. So, sport by sport, adding more coaches as we go and not expanding too quickly across markets. Right now, it's just in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. We have big aspirations and dreams to go to different cities and take this across the country. But to build it organically from the ground up without funding takes a lot of patience and effort but we're doing it and it's being proven right now. It just takes a little bit more time than if you're raising funding or taking those moon shots to go on.” Athletes Untapped also features a video feedback component where coaches can leave feedback for athletes. How has your company been affected by the current economic situation, and how are you dealing with it? “We haven't been too affected. What we're doing right now is staying the course. We have a pretty unique model that's worked really well. We haven't seen too many setbacks, so we're lucky in that instance.” What are the values that are core to your brand? “We're mission driven. We want to provide young athletes with better opportunities to succeed through private coaching. That goes back to being all about helping the next generation and giving them mentors and coaches to work with. We're super mission driven when it comes to athletes.” What does success ultimately look like for your company? “It's a little cheesy, but fantastic parent and kid feedback. We want this to be a legit, long-term business. The more and more reviews we get, the more we hear from parents that they love working with coach X or coach Z did a really great job with their daughter. We got one review last week where the parents said, ‘Coach Ricky was fantastic. My daughter loves working with her. She's such a nice person, and because of her she's already getting better playing a lot better in her winter basketball league.’ It's stuff like that, and that's why we love what we do.” What should investors or customers know about you — the person, your life experiences — that shows they can believe in you? “It’s my background. Having played basketball at high levels in college and overseas, I definitely get the sports aspect, but besides that I also run a real estate technology company called VeryApt, so I have the tech and business acumen as well. Combining those two with the love I have for private coaching and helping kids reach the next level is the right mix to lead Athletes Untapped.” What made you decide on starting with a smaller scope versus trying to expand across the country? “I’ve been working with a couple of mentors for a long time that have been around the startup industry and they advise, which I appreciate. I think a lot of startup founders in the beginning try to go too big, too fast. We started the exact opposite, really small in the area we know best, which is around home for us in the Philadelphia area of Pennsylvania, Jersey, Delaware, but even on top of that with just two sports, just basketball, soccer. We really found out what we needed on the platform. That way, when we had questions pop up or maybe even tech issues or bugs, we could go right to the coaches that we knew and say, ‘Hey, what happened? Or what can we do to fix this and make it better?’ As we got feedback from parents and coaches, but just those two sports in this area, we’re able to tweak the platform, make sure it was a lot more useful for people as time went on. Now, it’s expanded. I'm really thankful we did that because we don't have a lot of problems early on. You can imagine if you did 10 sports, 10 cities, that's a ton of feedback and if you have those problems you get a really bad rap. If you start small, this works out a lot better.” Photo credits: Courtesy of Athletes Untapped Latest
CoachUp Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
When was CoachUp founded?
CoachUp was founded in 2011.
Where is CoachUp's headquarters?
CoachUp's headquarters is located at 397 Elliot Street, Newton Upper Falls.
What is CoachUp's latest funding round?
CoachUp's latest funding round is Unattributed.
How much did CoachUp raise?
CoachUp raised a total of $10.41M.
Who are the investors of CoachUp?
Investors of CoachUp include Breakaway Innovation Group, Data Point Capital, Stephen Curry, General Catalyst, PJC and 12 more.
Who are CoachUp's competitors?
Competitors of CoachUp include Inuka Coaching and 4 more.
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