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Sports entrepreneur discusses success with students

By Abigail Gardener

Section: News

September 25, 2015

At last week’s Entrepreneurs Forum, Jordan Fliegel, founder, president and chairman of CoachUp.com, spoke about the start-up experience in Lee Hall on Tuesday, Sept. 22.

He played basketball at the high school, collegiate and professional levels, and attributes his success in college basketball to a private coach. This success due to one-on-one coaching gave him the idea for his business.

The purpose of CoachUp is to connect athletes to private coaches and trainers across the country. “It’s like Uber or Airbnb, but for sports and fitness training,” Fliegel said. “One of the things we’re trying to do is really tell the story of what you can achieve with some help and guidance, not only in academics and tutoring, but this also applies to sports.” The process is simple: The athlete shares their location and training goals, and CoachUp searches its database and suggests three coaches who the athlete might find to be a good fit. The athlete can then browse through these and other coaches’ profiles and book a session with a coach once they feel they’ve found the right match.

One of the things that makes CoachUp so appealing is its partnership with professional athletes who vouch for the effectiveness of private coaching. CoachUp’s main demographic is kids who play sports across the country.

“At the highest level all professional athletes have private coaches, but the real market is the 40 million kids across the country that play competitive sports … So we’re trying to use the stories of the best athletes in the world, the authentic stories, to sell our product to the 40 million kids,” Fliegel said. Helping to do this are New England Patriots player and XLIX Super Bowl Champion Julian Edelman and 2015 NBA MVP Stephen Curry. His own coaches are even in the CoachUp database.

“This partnership represents a way for me to pay it forward and help kids all over the country. It’s an extension of how much coaching has meant to me and helped me throughout my life. No matter their sport or skill level, kids should have access to great coaches to develop their game, hone their skills and build their confidence,” Curry said in a statement on CoachUp’s website.

Fliegel attributes the success of the start-up partly to that of living in a digital age. “I couldn’t have started this business ten years ago. Everyone has a smartphone. This is an inherently mobile business … We didn’t have to build smartphones, we didn’t have to build technology there, we just layered in our app on top of it. When you start a business now, you’re in many ways assembling different pieces and pulling together things under your brand and with your pricing structure and things like that … it’s become so easy to start a business now.”

When asked what his most valuable asset was when starting CoachUp, Fliegel responded with one word: passion. “I had experience as both an athlete and as a coach, and I realized how inefficient it was on both sides … and I decided to do something about it. That passion I have for sports and coaching and mentoring, that keeps me going and I think that passion helps recruit other people. People want to change the world.”

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