Small Business & Startups, Sports Business, and Technology

Start Garden invests $20K more in high school coaching site

September 29, 2014
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Startup develops high school coaching app
High school basketball players prepare for the rebound after a free-throw shot. Photo via

A web application designed to help high school coaches with player engagement and development has proceeded to the next level of funding from Start Garden.

Start Garden, the $15-million seed fund in Grand Rapids, said last week at its monthly Update Night event that it will invest $20,000 more in Programax. The fund previously made a $5,000 initial investment in the startup.

Skills training

As a web-based app that can be accessed with mobile devices, Programax is meant to increase communication among coaches, players and parents and increase high school athletes’ engagement with training.

With a goal of creating a competitive atmosphere around skill development, Programax allows coaches to post drill videos to the website for players to complete.

After the high school athletes have uploaded their personal videos, coaches can push the skill results to a program-wide leaderboard.

Jason Mejeur, founder of Programax, said the idea was to figure out a way to put workout training in front of high school athletes in an environment similar to app-based games on mobile devices.

“Now the sixth graders can see how they compare to the varsity point guard, or the eighth grade runners can see how they compare to the runners at the high school level,” Mejeur said. “Now there is a space for that. Kids are able to see results and get engaged.”

Three-month development

Investing the initial funds from Start Garden in software development, Programax partnered with Collective Idea in Holland to create a product out of the original concept.

During a three-month period, Mejeur said the app went through a development phase and a testing phase, which incorporated five beta users across the country using the software and giving feedback.

“We partnered with Collective Idea, and they have been a huge partner for us in developing this,” Mejeur said. “They have caught the vision of what we are doing and as invested partners, want to see it grow as well.

“Actually, the day before our Start Garden presentation, we sold our first two subscriptions for our first paying customers.”

Next-level investment

Presenting at the Update Night at Start Garden, the team at Programax had three minutes to discuss the outcomes of their marketing experiment and explain how the web app is a viable and desirable product.

The event in front of a live audience features multiple startups from Start Garden's porftfolio presenting on their progress to secure additional funding. The event is designed to foster social accountability.

Kim Pasquino, portfolio manager at Start Garden, said when evaluating teams for an additional investment, Start Garden considers the idea, the marketing experiment and the people involved.

“There seems to be incredible potential in this app to become an integral part of a young athlete’s life,” Pasquino said. “It can motivate them with and against their peers and simplify an ongoing challenge for coaches. The Programax team started with no app, no sales team and pulled together a beta test and then two paying customers in 90 days. We think that is an impressive test and has earned the next step of funding.”

The $20,000 investment from Start Garden will be used toward marketing campaigns to put the product in front of coaches.

“Start Garden does such a great job of creating an exciting environment, you can’t help but want to jump out of your skin when your name is announced,” Mejeur said. “It’s exciting just in the moment and to have additional funding to go out and take some of the next steps.

“Our goal is to make coaches’ lives easier through the use of technology and make their impact greater with their athletes and their program. That is what we wake up every morning excited about and want to continue to impact the coaching profession.”

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