Written by Robert Leitch.
There are more than 40 million young athletes in the United States, ranging from preschool to high school. Managing a youth sports team can be time consuming, often led by volunteers who spend time after work coordinating the teams. They have to schedule practices, lead fundraisers and communicate with players’ families, and Jersey Watch is working to make this process more efficient.
“Jersey Watch handles everything it takes to manage a team,” said co-founder David Carter. “It only takes us 24 hours to get a team’s page up and running, and from there it can be used for everything from communicating with parents to processing credit card payments for team dues.”
The company, named for the oversight it gives coaches, provides a web app and online tool where teams can keep all of their important updates and information in one spot, free of charge.
10,000 teams in four states are already using Jersey Watch, with advertisers like Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Wilson and Pizza Hut covering the cost of the system through in-app advertising. Jersey Watch connects with each individual team upon enrollment and helps them as they transition from their old system – typically a simple Google or GoDaddy site – to their new and improved web presence.
“The sites teams were using before Jersey Watch were not at the level they needed,” said Carter. “Volunteers were settling for anything, regardless of how lackluster the system was. Our tool is made for scheduling practices and organizing fundraisers. It’s easy to use, looks great and parents love it.”
Carter and his co-founder Tim Gusweiler met in grad school at Ohio University. Both were student athletes, and identified team disorganization as a major problem in the sports industry. From the time they started their company, Carter and Gusweiler have worked closely with TechGROWTH Ohio, a southeast regional partner of Ohio Third Frontier.
“TechGROWTH was a vital partner for our business from early on,” said Carter. “The funding we received through TechGROWTH enabled us to do our first test launch in Columbus, and we’ve had their support in each additional market launch since.”
The company’s rapid growth in Ohio was evidence Carter and Gusweiler had built a strong business model with optimal product market fit. Scaling to other parts of the country was the next logical step. To accomplish this goal, they applied to The Brandery, a nationally ranked accelerator and southwest regional partner of Ohio Third Frontier.
“Our goal in The Brandery program was to achieve maximum efficiency, while thinking about the next iteration of Jersey Watch and how we can continuously improve our product for our customers,” said Carter.
Jersey Watch launched in three new states during their time at The Brandery – Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida. Carter said the accelerator was a good fit for his company because of their connections with marketing and branding giants like Procter & Gamble.
“We’re so thankful to have been a part of The Brandery’s 2015 class,” said Carter. “In order to offer Jersey Watch for free to teams, we depend on advertising and brands who want to connect with families through our system. Getting to network with professionals from these companies is vital for our continued growth.”
Gusweiler is a Cincinnati native, and while Carter is from Pennsylvania, both are Ohio University graduates and proud to say that their company is firmly Ohio-based.
“Initiatives like Ohio Third Frontier and the access it provides to early funding is why we chose to stay here in Ohio,” said Carter. “Ohio and the Midwest as a whole are huge for sports, which is obviously very important for our business. We plan to have a presence both in Athens and in Cincinnati in the future.”
Jersey Watch is still in the process of raising its early funding, including investments from both TechGROWTH and The Brandery. They currently have five employees, but are looking to grow to 12 by early next year. The company is working to expand along the east coast, and the founders are promoting their product to as many youth sports organizations as possible across the country.