connecting athletes with private sports coaches

Interview with Jordan Fliegel

Jordan Fliegel, CEO and Founder of CoachUp, a Boston-based online network that connects athletes with private sports coaches explains to us the idea behind this service, how it all started, and what's next for .

Can you explain in a few words the idea behind this online service that connects athletes with private sports coaches and how it all started?

Private coaching is the best investment an athlete can make. It's the best way to achieve excellence in your sport, and it develop confidence, work ethic, and an appreciation for mastery that extends far beyond the realm of sports into all aspects of a person’s life. CoachUp is the leader in private coaching, with over 12,000 coaches across the country in every major sport. We work with athletes of all ages, but the majority of CoachUp athletes compete at the youth, high school, or collegiate level.

I benefited tremendously as a basketball player, and as a person, from having a private coach. When I was in high school, no one knew about private coaching – you certainty couldn’t find quality, vetted coaches online – and my parents struggled to find someone who could really help me improve my game. Through private coaching, I was able to go from a mediocre high school player to playing collegiate and professional basketball. I later became a private coach myself, to pass on my love of the game to players in my hometown. My idea was to build a company to allow athletes and private coaches to connect, and build long-lasting relationships working together. Athletes really need private coaching, and coaches need help marketing and managing their business, but nothing existed to help either side. I was compelled to do something to help facilitate those connections, and with the help of an incredible talented team, we are now the leading coaching company in America, and have thousands of success stories of athletes and coaches finding one another and flourishing together.

You are an athlete yourself, what was your Aha! moment with CoachUp?

I was driving fromBostonup toMainewith my best friend, and we were having a deep conversation about the people who really changed our lives, and what we wanted our lives to be about. And I realized that basketball has fundamentally changed my life – from the friends I’ve made, to the education I’ve received, to the life lessons I’ve learned, and the opportunity I’ve had to travel the world playing the game – and I realized that none of that would have been possible without my private coach. I knew that I wanted to spread that impact to every athlete, and that there had to be something I could do to spread the value of private coaching and help facilitate connections between athletes who needed training, and coaches who are best served to help them. 

As we understand, coaches earn badges and points-can you explain how the process works?

CoachUp has a system called “Coach Score.” A coaches’ Coach Score is governed by their behavior on CoachUp; its CoachUp’s way of tracking who are the best coaches and ensuring that coaches live up to our community’s high expectations. A lot of variables go into Coach Score, but things like the quantity and quality of reviews that coaches receive, whether or not they have passed our Coach Course, how optimized their profile is, how responsive they are to athletes who reach out to them, and how likely their clients are to rebook them (a strong indication of quality), all drive Coach Score. Coach Score helps us determine who are the best coaches in each sport, and in each city, across the country. CoachUp only partners with the best coaches, so coaches who do not perform well will be asked to leave our community.

Has CoachUp got the feedback and growth you expected since its launch in 2012?

It has been amazing to watch CoachUp grow from a startup to the leading company in the industry. We have so much more work to do, and we will not rest until every athlete is aware of the benefits of private coaching. Through CoachUp, high-quality, affordable private coaching is now accessible across the county. On a personal level, it is extremely rewarding to watch our team grow – now over 25 full-time employees in CoachUp’s headquarters and over 12,000 coaches across the nation – and we are just getting started!

What strategies do you use to market your platform? 

We have an entire team dedicated to marketing our coaches. Furthermore, what we are also really doing is marketing and growing private coaching itself. 10 years from now every athlete with ambition to reach their full potential will have a private coach, and CoachUp will be the brand behind the movement. We rely heavily on word-of-mouth, PR, Social Media, brand ambassadors, and digital marketing to spread the word about CoachUp. Ultimately, our best marketers are our athletes and coaches themselves… we just try to capture their success stories and spread that message. Private coaching really works, but no one knows about it. Our job is to create awareness and grow the industry.

Every Founder makes mistakes. Can you share a few of yours and if you were to start again, what might you do differently? 

I’m sure I’ve made a thousand mistakes since launching CoachUp, and I’m likely to make a thousand more. And that is ok. The key is to be self-aware, and to learn from your mistakes. It's the same as playing sports, and it's the same message I would tell athletes I coached: don’t worry about tomorrow, or the next game, or the the shot you just missed, just stay focused on the next play, and try to self-assess what just happened so that you can quickly correct it. I love CoachUp so much, sometimes it’s hard to separate that passion for our mission, and for our team, from the day-to-day needs of the company. I am very excited about all of the potential opportunities we have to help athletes and coaches, and the challenge for me, and where I have made mistakes, is always around staying focused on the present challenges of today, and not worrying about things that are further down the line.

Do you have any expansion plans for CoachUp?

There are a million opportunities for CoachUp to expand to help athletes and coaches, but that doesn’t mean we should focus on them now. We really believe that private coaching is the secret to reaching the next level. It's the most underappreciated, and the most valuable, factor behind athletic success. Our mission is to grow private coaching by connecting athletes with coaches, and by making sure that they have an incredible experience. Although today we do this better than anyone else, we hold ourselves to a higher standard, and we have a long way to go to reach our goals.

What is your advice for other entrepreneurs?

Do something you love, and be self-aware about what you are good at doing (and can be great at doing), and what roles in your organization you should hire for. Focus your company on a core mission, and stay the course. It's a marathon, not a spring – don’t lose site of the big picture. Make sure that you hire for narrow excellence, not broad competence, and try to get some sleep.

What are you most excited about at the moment?

Our team. We have an incredible group of people that have come together to build something amazing, something that we can all be proud of. I know that someday when we are all retired, we will look back on this time together and feel great about what we accomplished.

Pie in the sky, whose advice would you like to get?

Immanuel Kant (rationality as basis of morality), or Tim Duncan (how to score in the low post).


Review Author: Irina Georgieva

About the Author

- Irina currently works as a Chief Editor for GeekyCorner after having previously worked over 10 years in IT and Marketing across a number of industries, including mortgage, electronics, and software. She enjoys spending time with her family and is an avid fan of salsa.
August 02, 2013
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