Founded by Jordan Fliegel, a former professional basketball player and longtime private coach, and Arian Radmand, an experienced sailing instructor and software engineer, CoachUp.com is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts and is currently in the second Boston TechStars program for 2012. CoachUp has the most sports private coaches in the nation and helps athletes achieve their full potential by connecting them with great private coaches. The independent coaches who list their services on the CoachUp.com platform take advantage of CoachUp’s digital marketing, scheduling, payment processing, client review gathering, and sophisticated profile pages to find new clients and manage their private coaching business. There is no fee to join and CoachUp doesn’t take any money from the coach’s earnings. Jordan Fliegel and I talked during their 3rd week at TechStars.
Q: Your understanding of the power of one-on-one coaching was the catalyst for CoachUp. At what point did basketball coaching as a side gig turn into this full-fledged business?
A: I gave private lessons in basketball on the side while I was in college, during the summers while home from playing professional basketball overseas, during business school, and have continued to coach every weekend to this day through CoachUp. After business school I worked at a venture-backed online marketplace, and then left in September of last year to build CoachUp, applied to TechStars right away, got rejected, worked hard on the business, recruited a team, launched the site in May, applied to TechStars again, and was very excited to get in!
Q: Where did you first meet Arian?
A: He was introduced to me by my best friend, Jeremy Levine of StarStreet (Boston Spring 2010 TechStars company). He had met Arian and realized it could be a great fit right around the time I was looking for a full-time technical co-founder. Arian had the same understanding and pain that I had about basketball with sailing; he loved it and and when he was younger, didn’t know how to get better. He began sailing when he was eight years old and his parents didn’t know how to help him improve. He ended up sailing in college at Boston University and received regular coaching, recognized the value of it, and wished it were available to him when he was just getting started in the sport. Arian, along with Gabe Durazzo (CoachUp’s Lead Engineer and first hire) make an exceptionally strong technical team, and I am truly lucky to get to work with them, along with our other six talented team members, every day.
Q: I can’t help but make this comparison. Your philosophy of coaches being able to make all the difference for an athlete’s ability is eerily similar to the TechStars belief that deep mentorship is invaluable to founders. What’s the mentorship process been like so far?
A: Alec Stern comes to mind, he’s been so available to us. Mike Troiano has been schooling us in marketing, storytelling and branding. Sheila Marcelo has been extremely helpful with all things fundraising and marketplace building. Sean Lindsey has been helpful with our development team. I could go on and on with other mentors in the Cambridge and Techstars communities, including many of the TechStars alums: Jeremy Levine (StarStreet) Will Sulinski (AccelGolf), Dan Sullivan (Crowdly), Ziad Sultan (Marginize), Chris Howard (Libboo). All of these different people with various strengths are helping us get so much better.
Q: What will you be focused on during the remainder of your time in TechStars?
A: We have acquired lots of coaches (over 5000 now and growing) and customers and revenue are all up and to the right. We have a great eight person team in place. Our goals in TechStars are to get more data on our primary assumptions, test out a few additional customer channels, optimize our various conversion funnels, and then get some sleep!
CoachUp is hiring a qualified engineer (preferably fluent in Ruby on Rails) and a superstar marketing person to manage CMO duties (bonus points if you love sports). Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with your resume and interest.