Friday Oct 18, 2013 by Dennis Keohane - Staff Writer, VentureFizz
On Wednesday, Jordan Fliegel, the founder of CoachUp, announced that the company has brought Gene Shkolnik, who has been an SVP of Product Development at Kayak and an EIR at Matrix Partners, on board as its Chief Technology Officer.
At first glance, the move may seem like an odd pairing for both parties involved.
CoachUp is a platform that connects private sports coaches with athletes in a wide array of sports, including football and basketball as well as boxing and running. (Fliegel himself, a former college and semi-pro basketball player, is even one of the top private coaches for the Boston-area for young hoops players looking for some one-on-one guidance.)
Shkolnik arrives at CoachUp after working for Kayak, a company whose product completes a very complex set of engineering tasks in order to aggregate all of the airline, hotel, and rental car shopping data from the web, and present the best deals available to its users. From a product development stand point, Shkolnik would have worked on (and overseen the deployment of) "deal shopping" tools from concept, to code, to testing, etc., that do web scraping or connect with API's in order to cull data that they can deliver to a user when called upon.
So why would CoachUp, whose athlete/coach platform doesn't seem like it needs much tinkering, need a CTO with a background in data grabbing and information aggregation.
The answer can be found in CoachUp's plans to have a bigger impact on the fitness world at-large.
As Fliegel told me yesterday (and as the BBJ's Kyle Alspach reported this summer) CoachUp has plans to expand its current athlete/coach connector to allow for fitness and athletic facility reservations.
"We are going to be integrating facilities - independant gyms, etc.- into our network. We think there is a real opportunity there to help our coaches and athletes gain access to facilities," he said.
"We look at the workout/training industry, and its a very large space when you factor in everything for personal training and private training, its a $55 billion dollar space, and no one has consolidated that space," Fliegel said. "We think there is a real opportunity to go after it, and CoachUp is at the forefront, nationally, in democratizing and creating great value for people who want to train and work out."
"In the next few years," he added, "I think you'll see CoachUp not only be the absolute best platform for private coaches and personal trainers, and people looking for them, but to even expand and penetrate deeper into the workout/training space."
With the plans, CoachUp is stepping into some uncharted territory for the company. As such, having Shkolnik come in to work on the facility reservation platform makes complete sense. Although it isn't necessarily becoming the "Kayak" of facility reservations, CoachUp will need the expertise in combining facility's schedules with a payment/reservation system that doesn't presently exist. Shkolnik's experience should be vital in CoachUp's bold expansion plans; for Fliegel, bringing the ex-Kayak Product Development SVP into the fold seems like quite the tactically smart move.
It should be interesting to keep an eye on CoachUp as their new product emerges in the near future.