Upper Hand, the Indianapolis startup focused on sports management software and business services, announced earlier this month that it has snagged $1.5 million in Series A funding from Houston, TX-based Park Ten Capital.
Company co-founder and CEO Kevin MacCauley came to the sports management sector a few years ago after a stint coaching Little League.“I learned there was a huge disconnect between coaches and parents” when it came to communication, he says. In addition, many parents were still paying for their kids’ training with paper checks. “How is that the most advanced way? It seemed clear there was an opportunity for disruption in sports and fitness.”
MacCauley and co-founder Myles Grote, alumni of Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, founded Upper Hand in 2011 to facilitate and improve communication between coaches and parents of student athletes. MacCauley knew the problem firsthand. The Evansville, IN, native played baseball at Memorial High School, where he had the same coach as Don Mattingly.
“As an athlete, my parents invested a lot in me, but parents don’t get a true return on investment from kids’ sports,” he says. “The average time a kid spends playing sports is seven or eight years. I’d ask parents, ‘Do you even know [everything] these programs offer?’ It amazes me that we don’t have access to that information because of the way youth sports have been run. Our platform de-fragments that process.”
Over the years, Upper Hand has gradually shifted from a consumer-facing offering to more of a business-to-business play with a subscription model. MacCauley says Upper Hand helps sports and fitness organizations manage front- and back-end office duties, delivering business analytics and tools to help them grow. Upper Hand’s cloud-based platform enables online scheduling and registration, the creation of waiver forms, payment processing, automated marketing, point-of-sale capabilities, and more.
“Over time, we noticed the people using our product the most were training facilities because they just wanted online capabilities,” he says. Parents still use Upper Hand if they register their kids for sports through one of the organizations utilizing the company’s software.
Because Upper Hand’s platform is mobile, organizations can use it to register clients on the spot even if it’s on the playing field. Thanks to the March acquisition of Double Blue Sports’ video analysis products, MacCauley says Upper Hand is now the world’s first sports and fitness management platform to integrate video coaching and analysis.
MacCauley says his 18-person company is different from competitors in the space because its software consolidates multiple features into one platform. “Most businesses need three or four platforms to schedule classes and perform various functions,” he adds. “Today, everyone talks about scheduling classes—they expect that part to be good. We want to push the limits on customer service by also delivering data and insights.”
Upper Hand, which has raised a total of $4 million since the its inception, plans to use the new capital on product development, sales, and hiring, MacCauley says. A 2017 Mira Award Peoples Choice winner for best tech space, Upper Hand is up for another Mira award this year, this time for best tech t-shirt. Winners will be announced at a gala on April 28.