CoachUp Scores With a Small-Business Slam Dunk
Entrepreneur Jordan Fliegel says coaching makes all the difference to many aspiring athletes.
“I wasn’t very good at basketball, but I loved it,” Fliegel says. “I found a private coach working at a summer camp I went to, and through his coaching I got a lot better.”
Fliegel (pictured), 27, says that one-on-one coaching experience helped him go from a mediocre high-school player to captain of the Bowdoin College team in its best year in school history. He then went on to play professionally in Israel. After he began coaching young players himself, Fliegel saw the business potential of connecting seasoned coaches with amateur athletes.
In May 2012, Fliegel launched CoachUp, an electronic matching service for athletes and coaches nationwide in virtually any sport, from archery and baseball to tennis and wrestling. Since then, the Boston-based entrepreneur has assembled a roster of more than 8,500 coaches and 27,500 athletes.
“This solves the pain athletes and kids have finding a [private] coach,” Fliegel says. “We are going to be the brand for coaching.”
Since its launch, Fliegel has raised
$2.7 million in funding for CoachUp. He graduated from TechStars Boston, an accelerator program for startups, and was a $50,000 Gold Winner in the 2012 MassChallenge, a global startup competition.
Fliegel aims to expand beyond individual coaching to offering
a job board for coaches and pairing athletes and teams with available facilities. “I think we can help facilities and gyms the way OpenTable helps restaurants,” he says.
Fliegel also helps other entrepreneurs through Bridge Boys, a seed investment firm he co-founded in September with childhood friend Jeremy Levine. Bridge Boys invests amounts from $10,000 to $25,000 in early-stage consumer companies. “We look at people who we think are building interesting things and are incredible entrepreneurs,” Fliegel says. “That’s fun for us.”
Although he has many irons in the fire, Fliegel says it is important for entrepreneurs to zero in on what is best for themselves and their businesses. “CoachUp has lots of opportunity for growth,” Fliegel says. “The challenge is focusing on fewer things and doing them well.”
Carla Turchetti is a veteran broadcast, print and digital journalist who is passionate about small businesses and the stories behind them. Carla is a small-business columnist at the News & Observer, the regional daily newspaper in Raleigh, North Carolina.