CoachUp adds Princeton Review vet as new CEO

CoachUp's John Kelley and Jordan Fliegel
CoachUp's John Kelley and Jordan Fliegel

Boston-based athlete-to-coach connector CoachUp announced this morning that John Kelley, a former executive at The Princeton Review, will be stepping into the role of the four-year-old company’s chief executive. CoachUp founder Jordan Fliegel will continue to work as the president and will remain a member of the company’s board of directors.

CoachUp, which was founded in 2011 by Fliegel, a Cambridge-native and former semi-pro basketball player, connects young aspiring athletes with private coaches. The company took part in both the MassChallenge accelerator program and Techstars Boston, and has raised $9.4 million in funding.

Kelley is a native of Cincinnati and Harvard grad, and he first got involved in the startup space working for Waltham-based Imagitas, and later served as the head of marketing for Monster.com. Eventually, he became chief marketing officer for The Princeton Review during the period that it was acquired by Internet giant IAC in the summer of 2014.

Kelley’s experience in marketing and familiarity navigating a business that has relationships with both children and their parents could be integral for CoachUp as it looks to expand its business in 2015.

Kelley said he was attracted to CoachUp, first and foremost, because of the people already involved in the startup. “Jordan’s got an incredible personal story, and it’s amazing what he and his team have built in such a short period of time,” he said.

CoachUp’s mission to teach kids sports as well as give them mentorship also won over Kelley. “I liked working for The Princeton Review because we felt like we were doing good things for student, helping them think about getting into college,” he said. “I think for student-athletes, this is a place where we can help young kids, in particular, with their confidence and self-esteem.”

Kelley also said that his experience working through a few startup and early stage companies will be a great benefit to CoachUp as they grow. “John is the ultimate addition for this point in the business with the wealth of experience that he brings,” Fliegel said. “My goal in founding CoachUp was very similar to my goals as an athlete. And that was to play with the best players, to push yourself to get better, and to play with the best team possible.”

Data Point Capital’s Scott Savitz, an investor in CoachUp, said Kelley’s hire was a “perfect fit,” one that builds on their momentum and will transform CoachUp into a nationally recognized brand.

“It is very exciting to see the level of success CoachUp is experiencing,” Savitz added. “We are thrilled to have John on board and look forward to him and the rest of the CoachUp team positioning the company for not only a very bright future but also the opportunity to change millions of lives.”

CoachUp saw a huge uptick in interest in the company after Julian Edelman joined up as an athlete adviser in the fall and has been receiving inquiries from other star athletes who also want to get involved in the project. Expect new athlete partnerships as well as another possible funding round to be in the cards for the company at some other points in 2015.

Dennis Keohane was a Senior Staff Writer for BetaBoston.
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