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Start-up CoachSeek raises more than $450k to plough into development

Software start-up CoachSeek raised more than $450,000 after going through the Lighting Lab accelerator programme, and plans to knuckle down and develop its product before ramping up marketing efforts.

The Auckland-based start-up, whose software helps sports coaches manage their programmes, raised more than its targeted $450,000 from a syndicate of angel investors through Ice Angels and AngelHQ, chief executive Ian Bishop told BusinessDesk, without being more specific. CoachSeek made the pitch for funds at Lightning Lab's May demonstration day, with $100,000 already committed at a pre-money valuation of $1 million.

The software-as-a-service platform is specifically built for sports coaches to cut down the time they spend on administration, and CoachSeek is aiming the service at what it estimates is two million coaches across the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand. Charges range from $29 a month for a single user, $49 for up to 10 coaches, and premium access for unlimited coaches on inquiry, according to its website.

"In the next two, three months we're refining the product to a level where we're happy with the additional improvements we have made, then taking it out to market later this year and into next year," Bishop said. "That will be the initial focus then pushing it out to a broader audience."

New Zealand alone has some 36,000 coaches across 10 national sporting organisations, the vast bulk of whom are volunteers, with 82 coaches receiving government funding and access to services through the high performance unit, according to Sport New Zealand figures. Among its priorities, the government agency is tasked with developing professional coaching programmes, and also aims to support management of volunteers.

Bishop, a former tennis coach, said CoachSeek has more than 300 coaches across 34 countries using its tool so far, and is using their feedback to help refine their product. That uptake has been aided by targeted Facebook advertising to sports coaches, he said.

"The early adopters are more forgiving," Bishop said. "Once we're happy with that, we're looking at various ways to commercialise the product and getting it out there."

CoachSeek will face competition from a similar desktop service, which Bishop says is "pretty expensive", while other Saas-based platforms aimed at hair salons and pilates instructors.

"We feel there's a real niche for us," he said.

(BusinessDesk)