Banking & Finance, Sports Business, and Technology

Startup lands $3.7M to boost national expansion

September 8, 2015
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Varsity News Network

VNN is a collaborative effort between traditional and community sports journalists to provide media coverage for every high school sport, from football to field hockey. Photo via fb.com

A Grand Rapids-based sports information technology platform has closed on an additional financing round to support its continued national expansion.

Varsity News Network, a provider of online communication platforms for high school athletics, announced recently it has completed a roughly $3.7 million financing round that will go toward expanding its platform on a national level and launch the company’s mobile application.

The financing

The approximately $3.7 million completed financing round is in addition to the roughly $3 million Series A financing round VNN closed on in February 2014.

The most recent financing round was led by Florida-based Arsenal Venture Partners, which is an early- to mid-stage venture capital firm focusing on the intersection of emerging technology companies, large corporations and the government.

Ryan Waddington, partner at Arsenal Venture Partners, said VNN is quickly building the largest school athletic digital media platform in the country and is growing at a pace that will allow it to continue to dominate the market.

“VNN has grown from 250 schools in the Midwest to 1,500 nationwide in little more than 18 months. That can only be accomplished with an extremely scalable business model (and) an all-star team with a vision for the future,” said Waddington. “With their suite of web and mobile tools and applications, VNN helps families and communities create strong, social connections through athletics.”

VNN also received financial support from a number of other investors, including: North Coast Technology Ventures, RSL Venture Partners, Start Garden, Nir Arkin, Detroit Innovate, Grand Angels, Northern Michigan Angels, the Michigan Angel Fund and Avram Grant, who is the former head coach of England’s Chelsea Football Club. Grant will also serve as the advisor for soccer-related affairs for the company, according to a press release.

The expansion

Since its establishment in 2011, VNN’s connections have grown by more than 500 percent to cover roughly 5 percent of high schools in the United States, according to the press release.

Ryan Vaughn, VNN co-founder and CEO, said the team is excited to take the next step in its mission to simplify high school sports communication and connect student-athletes and families in local communities across the country.

“Athletic directors from across the country are leveraging the VNN platform at a pace that has exceeded even our expectations,” said Vaughn.

The company

VNN is headquartered at 15 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids, and provides custom online communication platforms for high school athletic departments. The platforms not only grant access to streamlined information for athletes, families and their local communities, but also allow VNN to work with schools to sell advertising to local companies and organizations.

The company’s products include both web and mobile-based applications with schedules, games results, articles, photos, and alerts for different high school sports.

VNN released an updated version for its mobile application in March and anticipates releasing VNN 2.0 in early 2016 to allow users the ability to create profiles to connect with families and teammates.

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