Thursday Nov 21, 2013 by Dennis Keohane - Staff Writer, VentureFizz
Last year, around this time, CoachUp was a relative newcomer on the startup scene. They had finished MassChallenge and TechStars, received $28K in funding from Dharmesh Shah during last year's BzzAgent Shark Tank event, and seemed like one of the rising stars of the Boston Tech Scene.
Today, CoachUp announced a $6.7 million Series A round of funding co-led by Point Judith Capital and General Catalyst Partners. Other investors joining the round include Scott Savitz's Datapoint Capital, Suffolk Equity Partners, as well as angel investors Paul English and Albert Dobron, the managing director at Providence Equity Partners. Also returning for the current round is Breakaway Ventures.
It was only last November that CoachUp raised $2.2M from General Catalyst, Breakaway, and Founders Collective.
In addition to the funding, CoachUp announced in the press release for the Series A that Gene Shkolnik, the former Senior Vice President of Product Development at Kayak, joined as the company’s CTO, and that Isabelle Plante, the former Head of Marketing at Wahanda.com, joined as the company’s new VP of Acquisition. (We reported on the Shkolnik move earlier this fall.) Sean Marsh of Point Judith Capital also joins CoachUp’s Board of Directors that already includes folks like Cam Neely and Scott Brown.
The latest round of funding will be used to build CoachUp’s national brand presence, attract new customers, and expand the product offering. Currently, CoachUp connects athletes and coaches for mostly team sports, but the funds should help them penetrate the dance, yoga and fitness coaching markets as well. Additionally, CoachUp is making a big hiring push and will have to move out of its current office space in Fort Point/Seaport. Jordan Fliegel, CoachUp's founder and CEO told me that they already have plans to move into a bigger space and are staying in the Seaport/Innovation District.
CoachUp is also exploring ways to integrate athletic facilities into their product offerings, something that I discussed briefly in the Shkolnik announcement. If the company can keep its identity as a coach-to-athlete connector while providing a service to reserve gym, field, and fitness space, watch out.
In the press release announcing the funding, David Flalkow of General Catalyst commented, “We are pleased to continue to support CoachUp -- we love the marketplace they are building. There’s a significant opportunity for CoachUp to connect consumers with fitness professionals.”
New board member and investor Marsh added, "CoachUp is building a platform that serves the passion and need of every athlete to excel at their sport, which is resonating strongly across the consumer web.”
“I am excited to join the tremendous team of consumer Internet pioneers Jordan has assembled on his board," he added. "I know we all are looking forward to helping Coachup reach 'Another Level'.”
Talking with Fliegel yesterday, the CoachUp founder was excited for what the funding means for the future of his company. Even as the company grows, Fliegel's early experiences receiving coaching as a young basketball player at Cambridge Rindge & Latin still play a huge role in the vision for CoachUp. Although they are looking to expand their products and services, the coach/mentor connecting is the foundation of the company.
"The whole thing has been a whirlwind," Fliegel said, "but we are passionate about what we are doing."
"I had a private coach when I was a kid here in Boston, and I later became a coach," he said. Ultimately for the company, making coaches/mentors more widespread and accessible is the dream goal for Fliegel and CoachUp.
Always an advocate for the Boston tech community, one of the first things that Fliegel said about the new funding was that it was not only big for CoachUp, but that it was also "a huge win for the startup ecosystem."
He's right on both accounts. CoachUp's winning streak continues, and the momentum this company is building doesn't look to be slowing anytime soon.